Browsing the touristy leaflets in our rental cottage, I came across an article about Ravenscar, a tiny place just beyond Whitby described as “the town that never was.” They had me at that, I wanted to go and see it for myself. Today it is no more than a hamlet set on spectacular cliffs. In Victorian times however it was earmarked for development and was to become a tourist resort to rival Whitby and Scarborough. Streets were planned and laid out but all came to a halt when the developer went bankrupt.
A bit of interesting history plus some spectacular scenery and great hikes were what that leaflet promised, this sounded like our kind of thing.
We found the old railway line, apparently this is where you can see the street layouts and parts of the unfinished village. It was mighty overgrown and we saw next to nothing – we tried!
The National Trust visitor centre just a short distance away seemed like a good place to find more information. They had lots of leaflets on walks and hikes, we picked up one of these and set off. Blustery, cool and a bit damp, we were well wrapped up on this July day in Yorkshire and felt ready to face the elements.
Our hike took us downhill and across a golf course to the cliffs. The views along the rugged and wild coastline are glorious.
Down at the bottom of the cliffs is a colony of seals, they come here in June and July to pup and people can watch from a distance. We walked part way down, decided thanks to the incredibly steep slope that was enough. We spotted the seals on our camera zoom and could hear them quite plainly.
Our walk also took us past the ruins of the old Alum Works. There are lots of information boards about the manufacturing of alum which once happened here. Alum was used in the textile industry to help fix dyes and stop them washing out. They extracted it from rocks quarried from the hillside and turned them into alum. The production site here was in operation for over 200 years and once employed 150 men. Now just a jumble of old walls, some say this was the birthplace of the British Chemical Industry.
All that downhill walking at the beginning was very pleasant but it came with one big drawback – from the alum works it was (steeply) uphill all the way. Hard going but with some pretty woodland we were pleased to arrive back at the National Trust cafe for a much anticipated cup of tea and an ice cream.