Has anyone ridden this recently? I would say the section from Scalby up the hill to Ravenscar is / was the worst bit, and there were signs up saying that the path was going to be resurfaced.
It was a diamond in the rough the last time I rode it. The view over Robin Hoods Bay from Ravenscar is the equal of anything else I have seen on my bike, and the surprisingly stiff climbs up to Ravenscar make it a bit more challenging than many ex-rail lines. The last time I did it, me and my brother in law hired a couple of old-ish Dawes ATB's from Trailways with rigid forks, 26 inch wheels and chubby tyres - these were fine on most of the trail but care was needed on the Scalby - Ravenscar section. I've also ridden it on a mid range Specialized MTB with a suspension fork, and that made the rough bits pretty enjoyable. It is potentially very family friendly though, and the surface should be maintained with the aim of ensuring that it is family friendly in practice. As some other posters have said, the main road between Whitby and Scarborough is no fun when the traffic's bad and it would be nice for visitors to be able to treat the Cinder Path as a traffic free alternative, whatever bike they're on.
I am always amazed that it isn't busier - it is fairly easy to find yourself alone on the Cinder Trail. The first time I ever rode it, I and a deer managed to surprise each other, and it ran along the path with these enormous , gravity defying leaps for a hundred yards or so, every bit as fast as I was riding, until it cleared the fence without any trouble and bounded off across a field.
If you're in the neighbourhood, you should give it a go. And if you don't have your bike with you, I would recommend getting in touch with Pete or Ann at Let's Bike Scarborough http://www.letsbike.net/
- they'll deliver your bike to wherever you are staying and collect it when you're finished.