Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Robin Hood's Bay

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OS grid reference  NZ950053
Sovereign state  United Kingdom
Postcode district  YO22
Local time  Monday 5:31 PM
Dialling code  01947
UK parliament constituency  Scarborough and Whitby
Country  England
Post town  WHITBY
Shire county  North Yorkshire
District  Borough of Scarborough
Civil parish  Fylingdales
Robin Hood's Bay newsimgbbccoukmediaimages41304000jpg41304
Region  Yorkshire and the Humber
Weather  9°C, Wind W at 34 km/h, 57% Humidity

Smugglers at robin hood s bay

Robin Hood’s Bay is a small fishing village and a bay located within the North York Moors National Park, five miles south of Whitby and 15 miles north of Scarborough on the coast of North Yorkshire, England. Bay Town, its local name, is in the ancient chapelry of Fylingdales in the wapentake of Whitby Strand.


Map of Robin Hood's Bay, Whitby, UK

Robin hood s bay


The origin of the name is uncertain, and it is doubtful if Robin Hood was ever in the vicinity. An English ballad and legend tell a story of Robin Hood encountering French pirates who came to pillage the fisherman's boats and the northeast coast. The pirates surrendered and Robin Hood returned the loot to the poor people in the village that is now called Robin Hood's Bay.

Early history

By about 1000 the neighbouring hamlet of Raw and village of Thorpe (Fylingthorpe) in Fylingdales had been settled by Norwegians and Danes. After the Norman Conquest in 1069 much land in the North of England, including Fylingdales, was laid waste. William the Conqueror gave Fylingdales to Tancred the Fleming who later sold it to the Abbot of Whitby. The settlements were about a mile inland at Raw but by about 1500 a settlement had grown up on the coast. "Robin Hoode Baye" was mentioned by Leland in 1536 who described it as,

"A fischer tounlet of 20 bootes with Dok or Bosom of a mile yn length."

In the period 1324-1346 there was an early reference to Robin Hood's Bay. Louis I, Count of Flanders, wrote a letter to King Edward III in which he complained that Flemish fishermen together with their boats and catches were taken by force to Robin Hood's Bay.

In the 16th century Robin Hood's Bay was a more important port than Whitby, it is described by a tiny picture of tall houses and an anchor on old North Sea charts published by Waghenaer in 1586 and now in Rotterdam's Maritime Museum. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540, Whitby Abbey and its lands became the property of King Henry VIII with King Street and King’s Beck dating from this time.


The town, which consists of a maze of tiny streets, has a tradition of smuggling, and there is reputed to be a network of subterranean passageways linking the houses. During the late 18th century smuggling was rife on the Yorkshire coast. Vessels from the continent brought contraband which was distributed by contacts on land and the operations were financed by syndicates who made profits without the risks taken by the seamen and the villagers. Tea, gin, rum, brandy and tobacco were among the contraband smuggled into Yorkshire from the Netherlands and France to avoid the duty.

In 1773 two excise cutters, the Mermaid and the Eagle, were outgunned and chased out of the bay by three smuggling vessels, a schooner and two shallops. A pitched battle between smugglers and excise men took place in the dock over 200 casks of brandy and geneva (gin) and 15 bags of tea in 1779.

Fishing and lifeboats

Fishing and farming were the original occupations followed by generations of Bay folk. Fishing reached its peak in the mid 19th century, fishermen used the coble for line fishing in winter and a larger boat for herring fishing. Fish was loaded into panniers and men and women walked or rode over the moorland tracks to Pickering or York. Many houses in the village were built between 1650 and 1750 and whole families were involved in the fishing industry. Many families owned or part owned cobles. Later some owned oceangoing craft.

A plaque in the town records that a brig named "Visitor" ran aground in Robin Hood's Bay on 18 January 1881 during a violent storm. In order to save the crew, the lifeboat from Whitby was pulled 6 miles overland by 18 horses, with the 7 feet deep snowdrifts present at the time cleared by 200 men. The road down to the sea through Robin Hood's Bay village was narrow and had awkward bends, and men had to go ahead demolishing garden walls and uprooting bushes to make a way for the lifeboat carriage. It was launched two hours after leaving Whitby, with the crew of the Visitor rescued on the second attempt.

The main legitimate activity had always been fishing, but this started to decline in the late 19th century. These days most of its income comes from tourism.

Robin Hood's Bay is also famous for the large number of fossils which may be found on its beach.

In 1912 Professor Walter Garstang of Leeds University, in cooperation with Professor Albert Denny of the University of Sheffield, established the Robin Hood's Bay Marine Laboratory, which continued on the site for the next 70 years.


Robin Hood's Bay was part of the chapelry of Fylingdales in the Liberty of Whitby Strand which was a wapentake in the North Riding of Yorkshire.


Robin Hood's Bay is built in a fissure between two steep cliffs. The village houses were built mostly of sandstone with red-tiled roofs. The main street is New Road, which descends from the cliff top where the manor-house, the newer houses and the church of St Stephen stand. It passes through the village crossing the King's Beck and reaches the beach by a cobbled slipway known as Wayfoot where the beck discharges onto the beach.

The cliffs are composed of Upper Lias shale capped by Dogger and False Bedded Sandstones and shales of the Lower Oolite.

The Wine Haven Profile near Robin Hood’s Bay is the Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) of the Pliensbachian Epoch (183,0–189,6 mya), one of four chronographic substages of Early Jurassic Epoch.

The headlands at each end of the beach are known as Ness Point or North Cheek (north) and Old Peak or South Cheek (south).


The town was once served by Robin Hood's Bay railway station on the Scarborough and Whitby Railway line which opened in 1885 and closed in 1965. The track of the old railway is now a footpath and cycleway. The nearest railway station is in Whitby.

The town connects to the A171 allowing access to Whitby and Scarborough. The 93 and X93 Arriva bus services between Scarborough and Middlesbrough pass through Robin Hood's Bay. Robin Hood's Bay is the eastern terminus of Wainwright's Coast to Coast Walk. Robin Hood's Bay is also on the coastal section of the Cleveland Way, a long distance footpath.


Robin Hood's Bay is in the parish of Fylingdales which contains two churches both dedicated to St Stephen. The Old St Stephen's Church, Fylingdales, on the hill side at Raw, above the village, replaced an ancient church which had Saxon origins and was demolished in about 1821 and was a dependent chapel of Whitby Abbey. A new church, also St Stephen's, designed by George Edmund Street, was built in 1870.


Robin Hood's Bay is the setting for the Bramblewick novels (Three Fevers, Phantom Lobster, Foreigners and Sally Lunn) by Leo Walmsley, who was educated in the schoolroom of the old Wesleyan Chapel, in the lower village. "Robin Hood's Bay" is a poem by children's poet Michael Rosen.

The Bayfair newspaper contains news and local information on the town. Wireless internet access is provided for visitors all around the town by the Bay Broadband Co-operative.

In 1948 LIFE magazine ran a story of an unknown Poison Penman who had been writing spiteful anonymous letters to the inhabitants of Robin Hood's Bay since 1928.

The 1935 film "Turn of the Tide" was filmed in the village

The 2008 film Wild Child contains several scenes filmed at Robin Hood's Bay.


Robin Hood's Bay Wikipedia