The Scarborough to Whitby railway now known as the “Cinder Track”
The Scarborough to Whitby railway was opened on 15th July 1885 and closed as one of the Beeching cuts on 8 March 1965, it is now known as the “Cinder Track” long distance footpath, the following is a record of a walk along the route showing what is left of this once scenic rail line.
We start at Whitby where Westcliffe station has been turned into housing, what you see in this first picture is the approach road and entrance, the platform area is still there but is in an area that is private. The route we are about to embark on to Scarborough is 21.53 miles from the site of Whitby West cliff station and was opened by the Scarborough and Whitby Railway company on 15th July 1885.
The first half mile from the station has to follow the main road as the track bed is inaccessible until a road under-bridge is approached up a signposted street directing you to the Cinder track, go under the bridge and a path leads up onto the trackbed where we make our way to the mighty Larpool viaduct.
Shortly before Larpool viaduct the remains of the junction which lead down to the Whitby to Middlesbrough line is passed which descends down Prospect Hill, an incline of 1 in 40 to join Bog Hall junction sidings just outside Whitby Town station, the signal box which controlled the incline was on legs straddling the line with the trains running underneath.
In the two pictures above the junction is clearly seen with the Scarborough line going to the left and the Whitby Town line descending on the right passed the site of the signal box, the right hand picture shows all that remains of a once large structure.
The next remaining structure we come to is the mighty 915 yard long Larpool viaduct with the following pictures showing views both from above and below.
The first station we come to after leaving Whitby is Hawsker, the station is still fully intact and is used as a base for a cycle hire company called Trailways, here you can hire cycles for use on the Cinder track trail, below are details of the hire facility along with pictures of the station taken in 2009, the carriages that can be seen in one of the shots are used as a store for the hire cycles.
Trailways Cycle Hire & Sales
The Old Railway Station
Tel/fax 01947 820207
Visit their website: www.trailways.info
After leaving Hawsker the path emerges at what once would have been a level crossing across the busy A171 Whitby – Scarborough road, using the pelican crossing cross over the road and rejoin the trackbed. This section has views over farm land and is easy walking.
Not long after the above bridge we cross a track which gives access to Northcliffe and Seaview holiday park which is one of many possible bases you could use while exploring the route. Continue for about another two miles to where you will come to the unspoilt village of Robin Hoods Bay. A stop here is recommended with many café’s serving good food and pubs also serving good food plus some great real ales, the exception to the food being ” The Laurel Inn” half way down Bay Bank which does not do food but allows customers to bring fish and chips in from the shop further down the hill. If you walk down to the bottom of the village to come out into the bay you can look across the to the highest point on the trail which is Ravenscar.
Back up to the rail route and we pass through the remains of Robin Hoods Bay station much of it has been developed into shops and holiday accommodation, once passed here we cross the main road again as the bridge once crossing it has been removed going on through woodland till our next stop the small station of Fyling Hall, little is left as can be seen from the following pictures.
From Fyling Hall the trees give way to open farm land looking down steep fields to the cliff tops and out to sea, a farm crossing is passed leading into a busy farm which also has an active stables, riders can often be seen on the trail.
Before the approach to Ravenscar a large siding was located at an Alum Quarry as can be seen from the picture, sleepers are still in situ showing the line of some of the sidings. Shortly after the sidings care should be taken as a landslip has partially blocked the track bed but it is still passable with care.
We now approach Ravenscar which is the highest point on the line, the station is approached through a short tunnel but due to safety reasons this is not accessible to the public so a detour has to be made via the coast road returning to the line at Ravenscar station.
The tunnel, close to the summit of the line, was only cut thanks to the obstinacy of one W H Hammond, the landlord of Raven Hall, who didn’t want an unsightly railway crossing his land. He died in October 1885 – just long enough to see ‘his’ tunnel brought into use.
Ravenscar was at the top of a steep 1 in 39 climb from both north and south directions, other than the platforms nothing much remains of this mainly wooden structured station which served the small village once known as “Peak” the name being changed on 1 October 1897. A camping coach was in situ until the autumn of 1963.
Ravenscar is also the location of a late 4th-century Roman signal station, part of a chain that extended along the Yorkshire coast.
At the turn of the 19th–20th century, plans were made to turn the village into a tourist resort to rival the popularity of nearby Scarborough. Roads were made, houses were built and sewers were laid. However, Ravenscar’s popularity never soared, mainly due to the long trek needed to reach the rocky beach. Ravenscar is also the eastern terminus of the Lyke Wake walk, the official end of the Walk is at a point where the path meets the coast road.
The route now follows a leisurely down hill stroll through some very beautiful countryside to the next station of Staintondale, this station is still fully intact with both platforms in situ but is now a private residence so please have respect for the occupants when passing through. This being a double track station would have been a passing place when the line was in operation.
Staintondale railway station is 8 miles north of Scarborough and had a small goods yard, containing a camping coach and was listed in 1956 as being able to handle general goods, livestock, horse boxes and prize cattle vans but there was no permanent crane.
On leaving the station on our way to Scarborough if you look in the undergrowth to the right you will see one of the few remaining track-side information signs in the form of a catch points board.
Our next stop after a short walk, again through lovely countryside is Hayburn Wyke station which is 7 miles from Scarborough. It served the popular local beauty spot of Hayburn Wyke , and the Hayburn Wyke Hotel.
It was rebuilt in 1900, and closed temporarily on 1 March 1917, it reopened on 2 May 1921 before final, permanent closure on 8 March 1965. From 1955 the station was reduced to an unstaffed halt.
Cloughton station is next on our route and is the last intact station before Scarborough, it is now used as a tea room where you can sit and have a really nice cream tea sat where trains once ran, the station has been fully restored and also has guest accommodation provided in a converted railway carriage, a converted goods shed, and two B&B suites.
The following photos show the station taken from roughly the same position but over 40 years apart and the goods shed and camping coach accommodation.
The station had a canopied goods shed, and in the ‘1956 Handbook of Stations’, listed it as being able to handle general goods, livestock, horse boxes and prize cattle vans. it also had a 1 ton 10 cwt permanent crane.
We are now within 5 miles of Scarborough and only one station remains which is Scalby, it was closed to regular traffic on 2 March 1953 when the station building was turned into a camping cottage. Occasional trains still stopped for users of the cottage until final closure in 1964. Since closure, a road called Chichester Close has been built on the site and no part of the station remain.
The last two shots show the approaches to Scarborough and if not for the railway bridges would be almost unrecognisable as a rail route, the large Gallows Close goods yard is now home to a Sainsbury’s supermarket with the mouth of Falsgrave Tunnel which leads to Scarborough station now blocked up.
An act allowing construction of the line was passed on 29 June 1871.
Construction began on 4 May 1872. The 20.5-mile line was engineered by Sir Charles Fox and Son, and cost approximately £27,000 per mile. Included in the construction was the 13 arch brick Larpool viaduct over the river Esk near Whitby. The line was opened on 16 July 1885. The North Eastern Railway operated the line until 1898, when the company acquired the railway for £261,633, less than half its capital cost.
Until 1 October 1897 the Ravenscar station was known simply as “Peak”, this station was temporally closed between 6th March 1895 to 1st April 1896.
Withdrawal of railway passenger services between Whitby and Scarborough was from 8th March 1965.
A brake van journey over part of the then closed Scarborough’ to Whitby Railway took place 31 October 1967 consisting of shunter D2051 and two brake vans, this was the last journey as the line has been disused for several years, and the brake vans carried demolition contractors looking to see which parts of the closed line they might buy.
This is a scan of an original excursion poster dated October 1894 showing a train to Scarborough from various towns in the West Riding of Yorkshire.