Photo of Robin Hood's Bay

Visit Robin Hood's Bay

Robin Bood's Bay is a fishing village to the south of Whitby on the coast of North Yorkshire, and on the eastern edge of the Yorkshire Moors National Park.

It was around the abbey that the original village developed, and the imposing ruins of the Benedictine Whitby Abbey still overlook the sea from East Cliff, above the town. The abbey was dissolved in 1540 (as were all abbeys in England) and fell to ruin, and in the 16th - 19th centuries the fortunes of Robin's Hood Bay depended on smuggling and fishing. The decline in these industries has given way to the rise in tourism from the 20th century.

Explore Robin Hood's Bay

A very attractive village, the harbour and houses that we see today in the lower, older part of Robin Hood's Bay (called Lower Bay) largely date from the 16th-18th centuries.

Fishermen's cottages at Robin Hood's Bay

There is a warren of narrow streets to explore, many of them steep cobbled alleys, lined with a fascinating mix of old houses in various architectural styles and with a great deal of character, with various shops and cafes and a couple of pubs scattered among the streets to fortify you as you explore. Take a look at the door knockers which often have interesting shapes such as fish or galleons!

As you wander round the lanes and cobbled streets you are regularly treated to a view of the lovely bay below with its beach which is a mix of sand and rocks and very beautiful.


Among the steep cobbled streets there is a small museum that relates the colourful story of the history of Robin Hood's Bay, while the natural environment is explained at the Old Coastguard Station, now a National Trust operated property - a useful stop if you are here at low tide and are set to explore the rock pools along the coast below the village.

A key part of the local history is that of smuggling and you will see various references to this including pub names. In the 18th century taxes were high and "luxury items" such as tea, rum, brandy and silk were smuggled over from France and Holland and landed in the bay in the middle of the night.

Interconnecting cottages and tunnels were used to discreetly move the smuggled items and then pack ponies carried them across the moors.

Beach-front pub at Robin Hood's Bay

The fishing industry in Robin Hood's Bay goes back at least to the arrival of the Vikings 1000 years ago. Fishing became the main trade in the village and the lovely cottages that make up the lower village were once home to the fishermen. By the 1820s the fishing industry here was bigger than in Whitby a little further up the coast. Cod and herring were the main fish caught and crab and lobster too. Crab is still very popular on the menu here and along the Yorkshire coast along with fish and chips of course!

Whilst the fishermen lived in the cottages of the lower village the ship owners and captains built larger homes up above in the upper village.  These Victorian villas built in brick are larger and more spread out and many have beautiful sea views. However to most visitors it is the warren of streets of the lower village that will captivate you.

After exploring the village and admiring the fishing boats in the harbour, and perhaps doing a little fossil hunting and rock pool exploring in the rocks around the coast, head back up the hill to see the early 19th century Church of Saint Stephen - the interior is a good example of traditional churches of the region.

As well as the village and the beach many visitors come for the walking. The dock is the end (or start) of the coast to coast walk which is 192 miles long and goes from St Bees on the Irish Sea to Robin Hood's Bay on the North Sea. The village is also on the Cleveland Way National Trail.

Places to Visit Nearby

Robin Hood's Bay is on the edge of the beautiful North York Moors National Park which is well worth exploring. The charming villages of Goathland and Grosmont are both situated in the heart of the Yorkshire Moors countryside.

Further up the coast is the lively seaside town of Whitby which has a ruined abbey, lovely fishermen's cottages and a sandy beach.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Yorkshire Moors guide, and the North Yorkshire guide.

See also: 

Photos of Robin Hood's Bay

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • beach-pub
  • beach
  • cottages-flowers
  • cottages
  • fields
  • high-street
  • pub
  • roofs
  • smugglers
  • square
  • steep-streets
  • upper-village

Map of Robin Hood's Bay and places to visit


Robin Hood's Bay places to visit



Whitby guide


Grosmont guide


Goathland guide


Scarborough guide


Staithes guide


Pickering guide