Whitby Storyteller


Ghosts and Robin Hood's Bay

Ghosts and Robin Hood's Bay

March and early May were freezing. Going out at night to run a ghost walk is always a challenge in the cold months. Smaller groups and down to minus zero, I wonder how long I can keep this up for. Knees hurt, back hurts, hands are frozen even with thick gloves on and everything is stiff with cold. But yet and yet... there is never a time that my heart doesn't start to sing when I get out of the car and take in the view over the Bay. An epic panorama of cliffs, sea and sky, never the same twice, ever changing. Extraordinary, dramatic, breathtaking. It has a song.

I walk down the hill into the streets and alleys of old Robin Hood's Bay. Red rooftops, nooks and crannies, hidden secrets. Ghosts galore. A storied place. Still a magic here, an ancient echo of times when women would throw ashes at the moon and toss odd shoes after loved ones as they sailed away on a wild, unpredictable sea. They would send their men wrapped in charms and invocations, with enchantments in their pockets, to keep them safe, to appease the spirits and those old salty Gods. 

Children would stand on the beach and sing to the wind, invoking it's spirit to bring their fathers safely back - ' Suther wind, Suther! Blow ma Father heam tae ma Muther, wind!'

These were times when everyone would talk to the sea and stars, land and sky, wind and rain, rivers, birds, animals, fish, trees - the living tapestry that makes up this unimaginably beautiful world. It was a great conversation.

It was also harsh, yes, and many offerings were made, heads bowed to the spirits and elemental forces of nature, hats off to deep superstitions. This combined with a Christian fear and love of God and a church full on Sundays where hymns were sung and prayers were said for those in peril on the sea.

Many were lost at sea, many were washed up on beaches after ships were wrecked along the coast in wild winter storms. Often identified only by the pattern in the ganseys they wore, thick woollen jumpers knitted by the village women, each village with its own pattern so a body could be better identified when it was unrecognisable. 

There were no roads fit enough to take a horsedrawn stagecoach across the high, open moor until just over two hundred years ago. It was an inhospitable landscape criss-crossed with old pannier tracks, animal pathways and corpse roads. These coffin trails were used for relaying the bodies of dead sailors across the moor to the coast for burial by the sea, where it was believed their spirit belonged. The highway was the sea and the people of this old village had a profound relationship with the tides and seasons, and other elemental forces.

There are strange stories, legends and folklore from such times and Robin Hood’s Bay is famous for its paranormal phenomena, hauntings, visitations and  apparitions. This is a village reeking with the supernatural and if you are looking for things that go bump in the night then you have come to the right place. If you are looking for cosy, character and unspoiled charm, then you will find that here.

And if you are looking for a ghost walk that includes all of the above and much more, you will also find that here.