The village of Ravenscar on the North Yorkshire coast lies on both the Cleveland Way National Trail and the Cinder Track (the disused Scarborough to Whitby railway line). The Cleveland Way in this area follows the cliff tops, and the Cinder Track is slightly inland, so it’s easy to connect the two to create circular walks. I prefer walking to Ravenscar along the Cleveland Way north from Cloughton (about six miles) or south from Robin Hood’s Bay (about four miles), then returning by way of the easier going Cinder Track.
Ravenscar has a hotel, a National Trust visitor centre, a cafe, public toilets and a few houses. It’s often described as ‘the town that never was’. In Victorian times plans were made to turn the village into a popular tourist destination to rival Scarborough. Roads, foundations, sewers and a few homes were built, but the development company went bankrupt and the expansion was left unfinished.
The views from the top of the high cliffs at Ravenscar, especially north towards Robin Hood’s Bay, are superb. Downhill and just north of the village is an old alum works, once an important part of the country’s fabric dyeing industry, and now an interesting National Trust site.
The village is lovely at any time of the year, but I particularly like to go in November, and I plan my arrival to coincide with low tide. A steep path leads from the golf course down to the bottom of the dramatic cliffs, and what follows is amazing. It’s the highlight of any visit to Ravenscar. Dozens, possibly hundreds, of seals lying on the exposed rocky beach, and plenty more in the sea – their heads bobbing up and down in the water.
There are two main areas of the beach. The first and most obvious area is a smooth wave-cut platform protruding out to sea. The second is around the corner on the right, where many seals are resting behind the large boulders.
It’s possible to get quite close to them, sometimes within just a few feet. If you get too close, they hiss or growl, or propel themselves awkwardly but quickly back to sea. Walking amongst the Ravenscar seals, in their territory, is a fascinating and memorable experience which I always enjoy, despite the uncomfortable climb back up to the top!