What’s better than a sharp frost and winter sunshine, for a short brisk walk with no soggy meadows, stiles or gates to negotiate? This route encompasses breath-taking views and historical features, along with a golden carpet of daffodils in season.
Start from Scarborough’s Railway Station, built in 1845 and designed by architect George Townsend Andrews. The Stephen Joseph Theatre (previously Odeon Cinema) is across the road. From Pavilion House on the corner of Valley Bridge, seek Plantation Hill, descending steeply alongside Nicholson’s Estate Agent, (to the immediate left of Valley Bridge).
Meet Valley Road, with Valley Bridge and ponds to the right. Your route is left beside stone walling, with rustic fence to the right, high above Valley Road. Skirting The Crescent, head for the Grand Hotel and Spa Bridge. Lawns and a golden carpet of daffodils welcome early spring.
From the Rotunda Museum on Museum Terrace, which is the embodiment of the pioneering work of William (Strata) Smith, cross roads to your right, and pass beneath the Spa Bridge, heading south to the Spa Complex. Keep by the left stone walling as far as the bus roundabout. Near the bus stop are a pair of stone pillars. On the left one is a plaque: “The Spaw for Townspeople. The fountain down these steps commemorate the existence of the Spaw for Townspeople.” Unfortunately it’s in a sad state now. Descend 20 steps to view it on the left.
Continue past a row of shops and walk to the far end of Sun Court Cafe. Beyond is a covered walkway to the far end of the Spa Complex.
Reaching a tall white pole, stop before coloured chalets are approached. Now veer off right, to follow a footpath leading directly behind the chalets.
Seek immediately, about 26 railed steps ascending to the Clock Cafe – a white building with yellow paintwork. It’s extremely popular in season, with outdoor dining facilities and superb views. Dogs are welcome too! Bear left and walk behind Clock Cafe, turning immediately up flights of 69 steps. A green bank soon features alongside your footpath with seats facing the sea. A gentle slope ascends. Look back at South Bay with its harbour, Marine Drive and prominent castle. Keep ascending on the wheelchair route, and at the top is the Esplanade.
Turning right, keep to the Esplanade, unless you wish to glimpse roads off left, namely Esplanade Road; Esplanade Gardens; Prince of Wales Terrace; St Martin’s Avenue; Albion Road, and at the sharp bend – Belmont Road. Stop! From here admire the view before taking the steep pathway and descending steps to the Spa Chalet on your left. Continue to the grand Spa Bridge, and see to your left part of your outward-going route.
Beyond the bridge features the Grand Hotel on St Nicholas Cliff, designed by Cuthbert Brodrick. It was opened in 1867. The four domes represent the four season. It has 12 floors representing the months, and 365 bedrooms symbolising the days in a year!
At the top of St Nicholas Cliff, enter Falconers Road and turn left to Vernon Road roundabout.
From here turn right up Vernon Road to pass the public library built in 1840 and opened as the Oddfellows Hall and later the Mechanics Institute.
See the blue plaque to Stephen Joseph.
From the top of Vernon Road enter Westborough and turn left. This returns you beyond York Place to the crossroads, and your starting point at the railway station.
Distance: 2 miles approximately. All 1.5 hours for viewing.
Refreshment: The Clock Cafe in season, the Spa Complex, Westborough, and many excellent cafes, inns and shops in Scarborough.
The Spa Spring
Although most residents recognise Scarborough as a Spa resort, how many have viewed its origins? After nearly 400 years, on August 1, 2013, Mrs Thomasin Farrer was at last recognised for her discovery of rusty-coloured waters seeping beneath walling onto South Bay’s beach. Her momentous walk along South Bay sands took place between 1620-1627. She observed rocks and pebbles stained by the iron content of the water. It became the Spa spring at the foot of Driple Cotes.
By 1735 Scarborough’s Spaw had become a fashionable resort for the aristocracy and gentry.
Thomasin Farrer was the wife of John Farrer, the bailiff and founder of Farrer’s Hospital. He is believed to have been probably some years older than Thomasin, and died between 1627 and 1630. So maybe Thomasin was already a widow when she took that famous stroll along the sands.
She has been described as, “a sensible, intelligent lady – a gentlewoman of good repute.”