As we take a walk around Scarborough we will meet a rather strange character, Dickey Dickenson. For a fee he would let you have a drink, not to quench your thirst but to cleanse your bowels!

The waters were ‘discovered’ by a Scarborough lady, Mrs Farrar in the year 1620 when she noticed the strange colour of the stones the water had passed over. The stones were coloured russet and the water tasted acidic. Being an intelligent, educated lady Mrs Farrar tested the water with galls which gave it a purple tinge of which she pronounced would have a medicinal use.

People flocked to Scarborough to be cured of their ills and Scarborough’s life as a spa town was assured. The water flowed from two wells, each slightly different, the main constituents of the water were magnesia, lime, iron and soda.

Initially the water was bottled by the council and sold but as demand grew it was decided to collect the water. For this they appointed a governor who built a Spa House, rented the wells from the council and distributed the waters for a fee. But who could they trust with such an important job?

Our friend Dickey Dickenson of course. Dickey was the first governor of the Spa, he built not one but two houses, one for use of the ladies and one for the gentlemen. Dickey was a real character, his body was deformed but his mind was as sharp as a razor and he was a great orator with the gentry and loved by all who met him.


Your Route


Leave the Seacliffe Road car park car park at the top end then turn right, at the crossroads keep straight ahead to the traffic lights. Cross the road here then go right then soon turn left along College Lane. Keep straight on at the Golf Club crossroads along Deepdale Avenue which soon starts to climb up to Oliver’s Mount and the motorcycle race circuit. The footpath ends at the corner but there is a wide grass verge, at the junction keep straight ahead all the way to the memorial and café. Enjoy the grand view across Scarborough to the moors and beyond.

Walk past the Memorial then at the bend leave the road to walk through the fixed fence on the right, this is the entry to a flag marshals post on race days. Go left here onto a path through the woods, then in about one hundred paces turn right to descend steep man made steps. At the bottom of the hill there is a footbridge across the road, do not cross the bridge but squeeze down a track to the left of the bridge onto the road, Cross the road onto a footpath and go right under the bridge. At the hairpin bend leave the race circuit to keep straight ahead onto a roadside footpath along Oliver’s Mount Road.

Continue along keeping on the roadside footpath then where the road splits at the triangle of roads keep left. Stay on this road to meet the busy A165, turn left here to walk along the roadside then cross the road with care at the bollard near the traffic lights. Once across the road leave the A165 to walk along Avenue Victoria towards the sea. At the crossroads cross straight over to continue along Avenue Victoria to a t-junction. Cross the road then turn left to enjoy the fantastic view over Scarborough to the sea, perhaps there will be some merchant shipping from Teesside going past.

Walk along past the beach lift then the Crown Spa Hotel, when you reach a sharp corner at the Esplanade Hotel keep straight ahead/right on the wide footpath which starts to descend, the footpath soon gives way to steps which takes you to the Swiss Chalet at the bottom. Go right here then immediately left to cross the Spa Bridge with the Grand Hotel towering above you. Walk past The Grand then at the Cafe Italia keep right keeping the cafe on your left, just past the café ascend a few steps to reach the road.

Go right here, then in a few paces go right again onto a narrow road/wide path. Not far to King Street then to a crossroad. Go right here then just past Argos cross the road to enter St. Helen’s Square to walk past the old Market Hall. Just past the Market Hall at the junction turn right along Market Way, at the t-junction go right again then almost immediately left onto St.Sepulchre Street. Walk down this old road past the Quaker burial Ground of the 19th century then at the crossroad near the Food Market off Licence turn left for a long ascent along St. Mary’s Street. Keep climbing over the next crossroad then at the top of a long flight of steps turn right and in a few paces you reach a road junction.

Go left here and still climbing you soon reach another junction. Go right now along the footpath, look over the cemetery wall to see Ann Bronte’s Grave then continue along onto a wide path which leads towards the harbour. You soon have grand views of the harbour, the old town and across the bay to the Spa and Oliver’s Mount in the distance. When you reach the houses turn right along Castle Gardens to descend all the way to a t-junction.

Go left here downhill then bear right at the corner then left along East Sandgate to an old church. Go right along The Bolts, an alleyway which runs along the side of the church, go left at the bottom of Custom House Steps, then almost immediately right keeping along The Bolts. At the other end of the Bolts go left, then cross the road at the traffic lights onto the footpath near the harbour. Turn right now past the lifeboat house and continue along eventually bearing left at the roundabout to walk along to the Spa. This is where you would have found Dickey Dickenson, first governor or the Spa. Maybe Farrar’s Bar, named after Mrs Farrar who found the Spa waters should be called Dickey's Bar where you would have had to pay to get in!

Keep on past the Spa, perhaps stopping for refreshment at Farrer’s Barr, where I assure you the drinks taste better these days, but the same applies as did to the Spa waters, don’t take too much or you will soon know about it! Continue along past the Sun Court Café and the Clock Café where more refreshment is available. At the end of the promenade keep straight ahead onto a wide gravelly path to climb up the cliff to return to the car park.


The Facts

Distance - 5½miles/9km

Time - 2 hours

Terrain – Moderate, with steep ascents and descents

Best Map - OS Landranger 101 but a better choice would be a street map of Scarborough

Start/grid Ref. - GR.050867, Seacliffe Road car park, currently free for three hours

Parking - To find the car park drive along the A165 towards Filey. At the traffic lights adjacent to the University turn left along Wheatcroft Avenue, at the crossroads go left then take the next right turn along Seacliff Road to the car park

Refreshments - Mobile Tea shop in the car park in Summer, Oliver’s Mount café, others along the way through Scarborough town. Choice of three in the Spa area

Public Toilets - Scarborough foreshore and pier. Spa

Guide Book - If you enjoy cycling I have just published an e-book in the Kindle bookstore called Cycling through History across Yorkshire by J.Brian Beadle. It contains 40 great cycle rides across the county