Guide to Whitby walks

Coastal, Activity, Walking

Posted by Ed Roberts on 28th July 2023

Vista of Whitby landmarks and harbour

A walking holiday in Whitby in Yorkshire is most rewarding because of the town’s literary and spooky reputation. Known for its world-famous associations with the infamous Count Dracula, a spectacular selection of ghost walks, and some very interesting landmarks and bewitching landscapes to trek through, Whitby is sure to be a memorable choice when discovering the sights of Yorkshire.

There is a huge itinerary of places to visit and things to do in this seaside town, such as visiting the ruins of Whitby Abbey, the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, wonderful Whitby Sands, Dracula’s 199 Steps leading up to old St Mary’s Church, and the bi-annual Whitby Goth Weekend, many of which are included in this Whitby walks guide. 

To get the very best out of your Whitby walking breaks, why not book into one of our self-catering holiday cottages? We have a superb collection of holiday accommodation in Whitby for you to choose from. Click on the button below to browse our range or have a read of our guide to the best coastal walks in Yorkshire for more hiking inspiration.

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Whitby coastal walks

Robin Hood's Bay aerial shot

Best Whitby coastal walk for ocean views - Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay

This challenging section of the Cleveland Way Long Distance Path between Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay is nearly 8 miles long, yielding rewarding sea views, and a winding path with very steep sections. The trail meanders past the iconic ruins of Whitby Abbey, along high cliffs above Saltwick Bay, and craggy natural landmarks such as Pursglove Stye Batts.

Take care if you plan to try this trail on a wet day as some of the route is eroded and narrow, with steep drops from the cliffs to the sea below. Nevertheless, it’s a great walk all year round for seasoned trekkers who love a good view. You can enjoy a spot of lunch and a drink at one of Robin Hood Bay’s great pubs and restaurants.

Also check out our guide to find out more about Whitby Beaches.

Good to know

  • Distance: 8 miles | Difficulty: Challenging
  • Parking: Robin Hood’s Bay car park, Bank Top, Robin Hood’s Bay Rd, Whitby, YO22 4QN (A local bus, X63/4 runs between Robin Hood’s Bay and Whitby Bus Station)
  • Stay nearby: Duck’s Cottage | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Sandsend Beach with colourful holiday huts

Best coastal Whitby walk for kids and dogs – Sandsend and Whitby via West Cliff Beach

This linear out-and-back trail between Sandsend and Whitby is relatively simple and is popular with joggers, hikers, and birdwatchers. This long beach walk benefits from amazing views of Whitby Abbey and the wide sweep of Sandsend which accompanying dogs and children will adore. The beach is dog friendly with no restrictions between 1 October to 30 April.

If you aren’t planning to dilly-dally along the way, the entire walk takes around 90 minutes. There are cafes at the Sandsend end of the walk for refreshments and some well-earned recuperation.

Good to know

  • Distance: 4 miles | Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: West Cliff Car Park, Royal Crescent, Whitby, YO21 3EG
  • Stay nearby: Jet Cottage | sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Kettleness Beach at sunset

Best Whitby coast walk for fossil hunters - Sandsend to Kettleness Beach

If you like seeing the remnants of old industry on your countryside walks, the stretch between beautiful Sandsend and Kettleness Beach (which is part of Yorkshire’s Dinosaur Coast) may interest you. You can see old alum pits and sealed railway tunnels in the hillsides.

On this trail, you will encounter some steep climbs up through woodlands as you follow the clifftops along the coastline north to the remote Kettleness. The coastal alum works are eye-catching, lending unusual form to the landscape. Kettleness is home to a disused railway station and a beach popular with fossil hunters too, so you never know what you may find on your visit.

Good to know

  • Distance: 6 miles | Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: Sandsend car park, Sandsend, Lythe, Whitby, YO21 3TG
  • Stay nearby: Doris Cottage | sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Whitby circular walks

Whitby Abbey ruins at dusk

Best Whitby circular walk for vampires - Whitby Abbey and Dracula Walk

For many visitors, the Whitby Abbey and Dracula Walk could be the quintessential local walk as it brings in the iconic landmarks, including many of the locations that inspired the Irish author, Bram Stoker, to write the evergreen horror classic Dracula. You get an education on Whitby Abbey’s potted history and enjoy a short section of the Cleveland Way, as well as the 199 steps and St Mary’s Churchyard.

Other locations include Whitby’s swing bridge, and Whitby Harbour. Stakes are optional. On average, this semi-challenging route can be completed between 90 minutes and 2 hours. 

Good to know

  • Distance: 4.5 miles | Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: West Cliff Car Park, Royal Crescent, Whitby, YO21 3EG
  • Stay nearby: Swanning Off | sleeps 4

Curious seal on a rock

Best Whitby circular walk for seal spotting - Ravenscar to Robin Hood’s Bay circular

After rainfall, wear your wellies on this potentially muddy circular route that focuses on Ravenscar and Robin Hood’s Bay. The 6.75-mile-long circular trail follows a section of the Cleveland Way and can take up to 3.5 hours to complete; it is popular with runners, seabird enthusiasts, and those hoping for a glimpse of the local seal colony from the cliff tops.

You will encounter the old alum works and a very rocky shoreline. The pathway itself comprises several long climbs but you will enjoy the feeling of being out in the wilds – the views are stunning, and the walk invigorating. Start and end the trek with lunch or dinner at a Robin Hood’s Bay pub or restaurant.

Good to know

  • Distance: 6.75 miles | Difficulty: Challenging
  • Parking: West Cliff Car Park, Royal Crescent, Whitby, YO21 3EG
  • Stay nearby: Minstead Cottage | sleeps 4

Views north across the bay to Whitby

Best for a countryside pub walk - Whitby and Hawsker circular

The Whitby and Hawsker circular snakes through a variety of landscapes as it passes along clifftops and the course of a disused railway track. Again, you can see the major Whitby landmarks as you leave town but then the path moves inland through rolling farmland and woodlands. If you are bringing your dog with you, be aware that livestock may be grazing in some fields so always check ahead to see if the way is clear, leaving the many gates you open closed behind you once you’re through.  

The Hare and Hounds in Hawsker is a great place to rest your feet and enjoy a well-deserved pint at the halfway point on the walk. If you choose to walk the trail in an anticlockwise direction, the views of the abbey ruins on your way back into Whitby are among the best around.

Good to know

  • Distance: 8 miles | Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: West Cliff Car Park, Royal Crescent, Whitby, YO21 3EG
  • Stay nearby: The Secret Garden | sleeps 4 + 4 dogs

Whitby ghost and Dracula walks

199 Steps in Whitby at sun down

Choose a ghost walk in Whitby

Only the brave need apply to go on a ghost walk in Whitby, a most atmospheric place when it comes to shape-shifting, blood-sucking, cape-wearing legends and if your guides are to be believed, enough spectres to keep the Ghostbusters in business for decades. There are several guided walks to choose from, all offering their unique perspective on the incorporeal dimensions of Whitby. Locations vary but can include the 199 Steps, St Mary’s Churchyard, and Whitby Abbey.  

The best guided walks in Whitby

  • Dr Crank’s Whitby Ghost Walks – Learn all about the town’s history of grisly murders and supernatural activity on his 75-minute walk. Try out his 'In Search of Dracula' tour of Whitby, it’s ‘fangstastic’.
  • The Whitby Storyteller – Ghost walks and tours are Rose Ryland’s speciality. You can learn all about the smugglers, pirates, and ghosts of Whitby as she orates tales rich in folklore and mystery.  
  • The Red Hat Ghost Walk – Those of you with a taste for the theatrical will have fun on the 'Red Hat Ghost Walks'. Gill, the guide, performs limericks and monologues crammed with Whitby legend and horror. It’s certainly memorable for visitors with an interest in the performing arts.

Stay at a self-catering holiday cottage in Whitby

Treat yourself and your loved ones to a stay at one of our self-catering holiday cottages in Whitby. We hope we have inspired your next break to the North Yorkshire coast. Browse our collection of coastal properties for your Whitby walking holiday today by clicking on the button below.

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.