Travel UK

Local Legends || Travel Tuesday

Our house is fuelled by all things spooky. Amanda’s favourite holiday (apart from her birthday, which is a month-long celebration and has an often-referenced countdown clock available throughout the year) is Halloween. We watch a huge amount of scary movies together: some excellent (we went to see ‘It Follows’ this weekend), but some absolutely atrocious. Both categories are acceptable and eagerly sought out.
sea front

A companion piece to this is Amanda’s quest for scary and strange stories and she has spent some time looking at urban legends close to us in south London. This inspired me to look up some legends from my home town, Scarborough: The Jewel of the Yorkshire Coast.

Scarborough is just down the coast from Whitby which has all-things-Dracula as one of it’s main attractions. Close by is a lovely village called Robin Hood’s Bay. Now, the legend here is that Robin Hood was in the area and managed to fight off a roguish bunch of French pirates who were attempting to pillage the local fishing fleet. He fought them off (single-handed, probably) and returned the booty to the local poor. Now, whether ‘Robin Hood’ was ever actually there is in doubt, but it makes a great story. I’d love to have a place named after me for some derring-do. Sam Town: a hero’s home.

This brings me to Scarborough because it shares a brilliant legacy with Robin Hood’s Bay; both were notorious havens for smugglers.

In the 18th century you could get pretty much anything on the Yorkshire coast and all at cheap rates thanks to the smugglers. They’d sneak in tea, gin, brandy, tobacco and the smuggler’s favourite tipple, rum, from the Netherlands and France. It would be brought in at night and smuggled ashore to avoid the inspectors looking to charge duty on goods brought into the country.

Smugglers were seen as heroic men, celebrated in the town and aided in their escape by the locals who benefited from their cheap contraband. Robin Hood’s Bay especially must have been a paradise for smugglers. It’s built on a cliff edge and is full of winding pathways and secret alleys – many of the houses are linked by subterranean tunnels which the smugglers used to escape.

tide and lighthouse

My favourite Scarborough seaman that I found was called Copper Jack who apparently had the strength of two grown men. He was a gentle giant who avoided fighting at all costs. A legend of a man, and a local hero, he died at sea in the 1830s during a hurricane and his headless corpse was washed up on a nearby beach.`

What are some of your local legends?

 *As you can tell, this post was written for me by Sam (out of the kindness of his heart) because I was feeling unwell*

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  • I’ve been to Robin’s Hood Bay and thought how charming it was. Loved hearing the stories of the smugglers and Robin Hood! I’ve never been to Scarborough, but now really want to go. I think Whitby Abbey has such an incredible atmosphere – you can see how it inspired scenes in Dracula!! Hope Amanda feels much better soon. xxx

  • What a very cool tale – oh the stores those tunnel walks could tell…!

  • Nice post, Sam. I’ve never been to Scarborough, but Whitby is lovely.

    Get well soon, Amanda!

  • I started reading this and was like “why is she talking about herself in third person?” but then it soon became clear… I like that you let Sam take over while you were sick, and also that he was willing 🙂

    • Just like keeping my readers on their toes! (Plus he’d secretly love to have his own blog, I think!) x

  • I always imagine Robin Hood deep in the forest not out and about fighting pirates!!

    • And then Sam went to University in Nottingham – he just can’t keep away from Robin Hood! x

      • My grandma was a computer programmer and helped install a program at Nottingham University and had so much fun there with the staff, my aunt and I went too and she came in one night drunk talked about spotted dick so I am now and forever a fan of that place!

  • Sam did a great job. Thank you for introducing the Scarborough and Robin Hood’s bay. The story enlightened me a lot. I hope Amanda will get well soon.

  • Any talk of smugglers reminds me of The Famous Five. Now picturing you and Sam running around with a dog named Timmy…

  • Strange and scary stories are the best ones. Copper Jack’s tale sounds interesting! In particular, I’m wondering why/how he lost his head exactly… That must’ve been one hell of a hurricane.

  • Italy is so rich in history, that you’d just figure that they’d have tons! x

  • Haha loved hearing from Sam on your blog! I enjoyed the story because I was pretty much obsessed with Robin Hood growing up. 🙂

  • Iceland is full of legends of the Vikings, but they are usually quite gruesome stories. Hope your feeling better!

  • That is so lovely Sam wrote this when you weren’t feeling up to it… aww :)) After all, I think he would know a ton about where he grew up. The story about the sailor who was later found decapitated was so creepy! I wonder what happened… o_0

  • I was so confused as to why you were writing in the third person, haha! Now it’s all clear 😉 I didn’t know these stories so thanks so much for sharing, Sam 🙂

  • I love listening to legends from different places. I don’t know of any for where i’m from. My last name comes with a cool legend though about a knight saving a king in battle.

    • That’s pretty cool!!!!! I want to know more about your legend! x

      • My last name is Fairbairn which is Scottish and part of the Armstrong Clan. And legend has it that a knight who was called Fairbairn rescued the king who was about to be killed by riding up to him on his horse and swooping him up with one arm. And from that point on he was called Armstrong. Which is supposedly where the last name Armstrong came from.

  • Loved the post how marvelous of Sam to write the post for you

  • I was also confused at the third person at first! Hahaha. I love the “gentle giant” trope—possibly one of my favorites out there 🙂

  • Hope you feel better soon!

  • I hope you feel better soon! J sometimes helps with posts when I’m not feel well either 🙂

  • I’m feeling much better now, thanks!

    Oohh, I wonder if your crossroads were haunted! x