Once upon a time, a journey to Scarborough seemed to take forever through the bottlenecks of Tadcaster, York and Malton. Then came the by-passes.

Now, apart from on certain holiday weekends when the few stretches of the route which aren’t dual carriageway become clogged up, you can do the trip from here in an hour and a half.

That brings Scarborough and its nearby stretches of glorious, rugged coastline well within the reach of Bradford for a day’s walking. It’s easier to get to than Swaledale or even Wensleydale and the sea air makes a refreshing change.

Our outing started at the village of Cloughton - four miles north of Scarborough on the busy A171 Whitby road. We soon left the village behind and for a short stretch followed the route of the railway which once linked the towns and villages along this coast.

It’s now a popular footpath/cycleway, a fine reminder of what a glorious national network of these we would now have if so many lines hadn’t been bulldozed and built on after Beeching made them redundant. This line, of course, was closed long before the good Doctor could wield his axe on it!

It wasn’t long, though, before we diverted from the railway and walked down the lane leading to Cloughton Wyke - a rocky cove overlooked by a seat, with fine views of Scarborough Castle across the fields to the south.

Here we joined the coastal path which was, as are most coastal paths, an up-and-down experience as it dipped down into wooded gulleys before climbing again to traverse high cliffs. The sea was there to our right as we headed north. And on it bobbed fishing boats containing optimistic anglers out for a few hours from Scarborough.

I paused to study them through the binoculars, keen to see if any of them matched the shade of green I adopted years ago within minutes of my then teenage son and I setting off on just such a trip.

In company with maybe half a dozen others, we chugged out of the harbour shortly after 7am. By 7.15, barely into open sea, I had become ill.

I spent the longest four hours of my life either with my head over the side or hunched up in my misery and wishing I could slide under one of the seats and into oblivion. Meanwhile, the rest of the jolly fishermen were reeling in fish and gutting them, and enjoying their breakfast butties and flasks of tea. Oh misery!

Far better to be here on the shore looking out to see than the other way round.

Eventually the path climbed again to around 200ft and suddenly tree-filled Hayburn Wyke came into view, ending in a waterfall and a stoney beach.

It was in this very bay where, in 1914, two German cruisers lurked before setting off to shell Scarborough and Whitby, causing many casualties.

Down in the woods, we made a detour down the steep path through the trees and ferns to the beach before clambering up again and heading across a field to the green lane leading to the Hayburn Wyke Hotel, and a welcome pint sitting outside in the sun.

From there our route was level pegging as we returned via the disused railway between fields, passing along the way a tucked-away, white-painted house, North End House, in a lovely though remote setting and apparently accessible only from this railway line.

What a place to live!

Step by Step

  1. Walk back through Cloughton on pavement, heading in Scarborough direction but looking for Station Lane on left. (Alternatively, if you prefer a quieter start, instead take snicket to right just past general store building and walk ahead to cross footbridge into cricket field. Turn left and follow Cloughton Beck as far as you can go to a railed footbridge over beck. Over this, go right, then right again to recross beck and follow it through another field to where a track goes off to left, passing to left of graveyard to meet road. Cross road into Station Lane).

  2. At bottom of Station Lane, go left on to disused railway and walk along it to where a bridge crosses it. Go under bridge then immediately go left to climb up on to top of it.

  3. Cross bridge and walk down road to Cloughton Clough, turning left on to coastal path just beyond seat.

  4. Follow path all the way along and up and down for a couple of miles to descend to stile into dell at Hayburn Wyke. Go over stile and scramble down steep, stepped path to footpath signpost at bottom.

  5. Turn right here, if you wish, and clamber down to beach then retrace steps to signpost and continue ahead to stile into meadow. Turn right immediately and pick your way over marshy bit, then go left and walk up to stile into lane leading to Hayburn Wyke Hotel.

  6. Walk up road away from hotel, soon turning left on to disused railway. Follow this back to bridge over it and climb up to road. Walk up road back to Cloughton.

Fact File

  • Time for six-mile walk (including beach detour at Hayburn Wyke): 2½-3 hours.
  • Going: easy.
  • Map: OS Outdoors Leisure 27 North York Moors - Eastern area.
  • Parking: drive up through Cloughton then go ahead on Ravenscar road where main road (A171) swings left, parking on right-hand side about 50 yards from junction.
  • Refreshments: pubs in Cloughton and at Ravenscar.
  • Toilets: in the pubs.