Six miles to the south of Whitby, Robin Hood's Bay is one of the most picturesque fishing villages in England. Known locally as just "Bay", the old village was a notorious smugglers haunt. Separated by winding narrow passageways, the red-pantiled cottages jostle with each other to retain their precarious hold on the cliffside. So closely packed that, reputedly, contraband could be spirited away through secret hatchways and passages, from the bottom to the top of the village, to evade the prying eyes of the Excise men.
The steep road leading down through the village ends at the slipway known as the Coble Landing, which is also the end of the famous 190-mile long Coast to Coast walk. Weary hikers often soothe their feet with a well-earned paddle in the sea. The sea shore around Bay is utterly fascinating, with its rock pools, fossils and areas of sandy beach - though please be careful not to be cut off by the incoming tide. Check the times of the tides.
At stormy high tides, the waves can thunder up the slipway and into the street. During one storm, the bowsprit of a sailing ship was said to have crashed through the window of the pub. This storm-battered coast has seen many heroic rescues at sea, but that of the brig Visitor in 1881 stands out. The storm was so great that the lifeboat could not be launched from Whitby, so it was dragged overland, 6 miles across the moors to Bay in a raging blizzard. Over 200 men cleared the way, digging through snowdrifts up to seven feet deep, before helping to brake the boat down the steep hill through Bay. This amazing feat was achieved in just two hours and all the crew of the stricken vessel were rescued.
Many less fortunate mariners were buried in the graveyard of St Stephen's Church which lies high above the village, on the road to Whitby. Its beautifully simple interior is well worth a visit, and is still furnished with box pews and preaching pulpit. The church also has an unusual display of maidens' garlands, traditionally made for the funerals of unmarried girls.
For more detailed information about the many delights of Bay and Fylingthorpe, please follow this link to the Robin Hoods Bay Tourism Association website