As soon as the abbey and the jet-sellers are left behind, you pass a farm, and come out on a great expanse of close-growing smooth turf, where the whole world seems to be made up of grass and sky. The footpath goes close to the edge of the cliff; in some places it has gone too close, and has disappeared altogether. But these diversions can be avoided without spoiling the magnificent glimpses of the rock-strewn beach nearly 200 feet below. From above Saltwick Bay there is a grand view across the level grass to Whitby Abbey, standing out alone on the green horizon. Down below, Saltwick Nab runs out a bare black arm into the sea, which even in the calmest weather angrily foams along the windward side. Beyond the sturdy lighthouse that shows itself a dazzling white against the hot blue of the heavens commence the innumerable gullies. Each one has its trickling stream, and bushes and low trees grow to the limits of the shelter afforded by the ravines; but in the open there is nothing higher than the waving corn or the stone walls dividing the pastures—a silent testimony to the power of the north-east wind. The village of Hawsker, with its massive though modern church, can be seen across the fields towards the west, but it does not offer sufficient attractions to divert you from the cliffs, unless you have a desire to see in one or two of the fields, gateways and rubbing-posts formed of whales’ jaws, suggestive of the days when Whitby carried on a thriving trade with the great cetaceans. To enjoy this magnificent coast scenery, there must be plenty of time to linger in those places where it seems impossible not to fling yourself on the long brown grass and listen to the droning of insects and the sound of the waves down below. At certain times of the day the most striking colours are seen among the sunlit rocks, and the boldness of the outlines of overhanging strata and great projecting shoulders are a continual surprise.
After rounding the North Cheek, the whole of Robin Hood’s Bay is suddenly laid before you. I well remember my first view of the wide sweep of sea, which lay like a blue carpet edged with white, and the high escarpments of rock that were in deep purple shade, except where the afternoon sun turned them into the brightest greens and umbers. Three miles away, but seemingly very much closer, was the bold headland of the Peak, and more inland was Stoupe Brow, with Robin Hood’s Butts on the hill-top. The fable connected with the outlaw is scarcely worth repeating, but on the site of these butts urns have been dug up, and are now to be found in Scarborough Museum. The Bay Town is hidden away in a most astonishing fashion, for, until you have almost reached the two bastions which guard the way up from the beach, there is nothing to be seen of the charming old place. If you approach by the road past the railway-station it is the same, for only garishly new hotels and villas are to be seen on the high ground, and not a vestige of the fishing-town can be discovered. But the road to the bay at last begins to drop down very steeply, and the first old roofs appear. The path at the side of the road develops into a very long series of steps, and in a few minutes the narrow street, flanked by very tall houses, has swallowed you up.