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Country walk at Ravenscar
They were sometimes called watchtowers as their purpose was to look out for Saxon invaders approaching from the sea. If the enemy was sighted, a warning signal would be lit in the beacon to signal the danger.
Some forts were built close to the edge of the cliffs and have since been claimed by the icy waters. Remains of some are still visible and one of them has left evidence of a murderous end to its inhabitants.
There is little left of the Goldsborough fort even though it was built some way inland to give it a more commanding view of the sea.
The fort at Filey was built on the brig, although some remains were excavated it suffered from cliff erosion leaving nothing but a few stones.
Scarborough’s fort was built on the headland and some of the walls are still standing on the edge of the cliff.
But it is Huntcliff which had a gory end, although it has since suffered the same fate as others and ended up at the bottom of the high cliffs.
The walls at the Huntcliff fort were five feet thick and it was about a 100 feet in diameter. A huge tower would have been prominent with a signal beacon on top. But when the Saxon raiders arrived they easily breached the defences, killed all the inhabitants and threw them down the well.
Soldiers, women and children suffered the same fate.
No such evidence exists at our last fort which was built at Peak, or Ravenscar as we know it today. The cliff top at Peak probably had the most commanding view of any of the east coast forts.
Evidence of the fort appeared as workmen dug the foundations for the Raven Hall Hotel. They found a large stone inscribed which pronounced the existence of the Roman army and their fort at Peak.
But why was the hotel called Raven Hall?
Of course it was built on Raven Hill, so it seems the answer must lie within this name. Let us take a look at who could have occupied the site after the Romans – The Viking raiders.
The name Raven Hill is down to the Danish chieftains Hungar and Hubba who raided the east coast in the year 876AD. Hubba landed two miles south of Whitby and hoisted the black raven of their flag on Raven Hill while a little further south Hungar landed at Peak and struck his black raven flag on the Peak version of Raven Hill.
So there we have the answer and we can now get on with the serious stuff, a walk which starts from high up on the moors overlooking Ravenscar, or should I call it Peak, or perhaps give it the real name of Raven Hill.
Leave the Ravenscar radio tower car park from the left rear corner and walk past an information board.
Go right at the wide track to walk across the moor. Soon you reach a boggy area which has been drained to form a pond, keep straight ahead here to eventually arrive at a junction of tracks, go right now at the blue waymark and enjoy the scenery across to Robin Hood’s Bay on the right.
Soon you pass a large stone signpost on the left, it is inscribed HD and has a direction arrow pointing towards Harwood Dale and is inscribed with the date 1902.
Continue along to soon reach a farm road and a collection of houses and farm buildings, there is a wooden signpost here, keep straight ahead following the sign for Spring Hill. Walk through the farmyard and exit through a gate onto a bridleway marked by the Iron Man, a modern metal sculpture of a knight in armour complete with sword and shield.
Soon enter a field to walk diagonally left towards the wood to exit through a large gate and in a few paces reach a concrete road. Go right here following a bridleway sign for Spring Hill.
Downhill through a grotto now then up again to pass farm buildings and holiday cottages at Spring Hill Farm. Bear right past the farm, then left following the direction of the blue waymarks. Keep on this wide track until you meet the road at a farm. Turn right at the road and take care, there is very little traffic along here but there are blind corners and no footway paths.
In about a mile you cross a bridge across the Scarborough to Whitby railway line. Just past the bridge, turn left at the road junction signed to Fylingthorpe and Robin Hood’s Bay, then in the dip go left up some wooden steps to join the old railway track.
Continue along the railway track for a little more than a mile, (two kilometres) to a road bridge overhead. Pass under the bridge then leave the railway track on a path to the left then go left again at the road over the bridge. Continue up the steep hill to reach your finish point near the radio tower.
Distance – 6½ miles (10½km)
Time – 2½ hours
Grading – Moderate
Start/grid ref – Ravenscar radio tower, grid ref 970013
Best map – OS Outdoor Leisure 27
Parking – Small car park on the left past the radio tower
Refreshments – None
Public toilets – Ravenscar