Days 1 and 2 - Helmsley to Osmotherley
Days 3 and 4 - Osmotherley to Saltburn
Day off - North Gare to Saltburn
Days 7 and 8 - Boggle Hole to Filey
Day 5 - Saltburn to Runswick Bay
Thursday 13th April 2017
I was picking up the route again today, and I knew before I ever started that it was going to go wrong. Hostels set the distances for the rest of the walk - this was another long day, 20 miles to Whitby, but I had a last little pilgrimage to make, out to Upleatham, before I could get going and it certainly wasn't going to be an early start. The only good side to this was that the next day was a short one, only 9 miles on to the hostel at Boggle Hole, and although this was intended to allow for a morning sightseeing in Whitby, it wouldn't be the end of the world if I got as far as Sandsend and took the bus on.
Even without the detour, I would have been very reluctant to leave before the cliff lift opened at 11, but in fact it was more like half past by the time I was riding down to the seafront - a lovely little trip with stained glass seagulls in the carriage windows, and lots of watery noises as the counterweights filled up.
I also had to have a walk along the pier, where the beach was looking quite different from the night before, when there had been water right under the pier.
I rejoined the path at the river mouth, and climbed up behind the Ship onto the cliffs - reasonably dramatic cliffs here, after the long stretch of beach past Redcar, and the low rough cliffs at Marske. Up here there was a Roman signal station, or at least half a Roman signal station, the other half having fallen into the sea with the eroding cliffs.
Beyond that the path passes a loop of railway line taking the long way round a low hill - never a passenger line, but just running to mines further down the coast. The first of two iconic sculptures is here, a thing a bit like a charm bracelet attached to a post, with seashapes hanging from it.
The second sculpture, on the other side of the hill, is even more dramatic, a circle holding shapes connected with local stories - plus they move when you touch them, which is much more interesting than a sculpture just for looking at.
On the far side of the hill there is also the remains of an old ironstone mine, and then the long pier at Skinningrove comes into view reaching out into the sea.
The path descends from the cliffs to the shore and crosses the landward end of the pier - an attractive little spot.
Skinningrove itself is a complete change from the seaside resorts to the north and south - a definite working class village, dominated by its steelworks and with allotments and pigeons and rows of terraced houses, although there are some lovely old buildings mixed in, including an early 18th century manor house, now a guesthouse. A sign advertised a cafe open 'at the riverside building situated in the centre of the village', but although I thought I'd walked all round the village I never came across it, and instead went back to the chip shop, only to be told they'd closed - I'd read the opening times but entirely failed to realise that it was Maundy Thursday and that revised times applied. However the lady told me that she had chips left, still hot, and since that was all I was after I was perfectly happy, and remembered Skinningrove as a helpful kind of place!
On the other side of the bay the path climbed briefly along the road and then steeply up a set of steps to follow the top of the cliffs again, with a distinct change from plain grass to the addition of gorse and heather. Up here the cliffs had played an important part in the realisation that certain fossils always occupied the same place in the series of layers, although there might be more or less of them, or a thicker or thinner layer, in different places - meaning that rocks containing the same fossils could be identified as being the same age, wherever they were.
Further on there were dramatic raised beaches down below - it always makes me feel a bit odd to be walking to far above somewhere else.
Further on again were the houses of Boulby, with the much bigger buildings of its mine hiding behind the brow of the hill - I didn't remember ever hearing the name before, but when I read that it was a potash mine I realised that it was where someone I knew used to go to look for dark matter (which is obviously to be found in mines, because it's dark there!)
Staithes had been in view on an off for a while, but at this stage I felt like it was never going to get any closer - I was just horribly, draggingly tired, as if I had simply used up more energy than I had to use. It's happened to me before on long distance walks, and even occasionally after long days in the hills, and I had had a busy few days of running around, which were really more tiring than the long day over the moors - I was supposed to be being careful about eating plenty, for energy, but that hadn't really happened either, and the tireder I get the easier it is to forget to eat.
So I made a very slow way into Staithes, picking up a track which ran along the clifftop, and coming to the sudden view of the buildings piled into the little valley on either side of the harbour, which is wonderfully dramatic.
I was too late to visit the Captain Cook museum, and the shop where he once worked has been washed into the sea, but parts of it were saved and used in the house now called Captain Cook's Cottage.
The path ignores the main road out of the village, and instead goes on partway along the seafront before turning away - a nice little beach here, and another huddle of houses.
The path keeps from the edge of the cliff for a while, crossing farmland, and I was greatly amused by a crowd of lambs who had decided that a line of haybales were their own personal playground, running and jumping from one end to the other and back again.
The shore at Port Mulgrave was a bit of a mystery - it was obviously in use, with a collection of huts and small boats on it, but there didn't seem to be any way to get down there from up here.
I was pressing on steadily now but still slowly - it was about quarter past 6 as I came towards Runswick Bay, and although I'd intended to keep on for a late finish after the late start, I realised I had a problem - I really didn't believe that I would manage the 4.5 miles to Sandsend in time to catch the last bus at 8, or at best I couldn't be sure - and I was absolutely sure that I didn't have the energy to walk on from Sandsend to Whitby. So the best solution seemed to be to wait for the bus coming in about 20 minutes time, and make sure I had a good dinner and a reasonably early night before coming back the next morning to pick up from where I'd left off - since the stop was close to the hotel I even managed to squeeze in a quick cup of tea before the bus arrived.
Whitby was quite confusing - at first I wasn't sure how to get from the station to the bridge, and then once that had just kind of happened I followed a sign which told me that it was Caedmon's Trod and a way to the Abbey, in an attempt to avoid the steep climb by the 199 steps, and ended up in a tangle of closed paths and the backs of things, whch did eventually bring me to the hostel but entirely round the wrong way.
But I came back down and had a nice dinner in a pub by the bridge, making sure I had pudding, and figured out a sensible way up and down, and it was all quite nice - although I was disappointed to discover that the Grand Turk, Hornblower's Indy, had once lived in Whitby and had now sailed off to France.
Day 6 - Runswick Bay to Boggle Hole
Friday 14th April 2017
My revised plan for the next day was a bit like the day off - walk from Runswick Bay into Whitby in the morning, touristing in the afternoon, and walk on again in the late afternoon and evening for dinner in Robin Hood's Bay and bed at Boggle Hole.
Back in Runswick Bay about 9:30 it was still so early that only dog walkers were about, although it was obviously a busy place. The houses are piled up the slopes of the bay, but possibly they're sensible to huddle together for protection, because an earlier village, higher and further north, was completely destroyed in a landslip centuries ago.
Like the rest of this coast it was a busy place for smugglers, and the last house in the village is an old coastguard cottage.
The route led along the sands towards an apparently unbroken line of cliffs, with the way out only becoming visible at the last minute - if it hadn't been for a single line of footprints leading from it I might have doubted it myself, but they had to have come from somewhere.
On the other side of the bay a tiny valley suddenly appears as you come parallel to it, and steps lead up above it back to the cliff top.
Up here a cluster of redroofed houses above the point at Kettle Ness were in view.
On the other side of the point I was shadowing the route of an old railway line, with bridges still visible as well as the place where it suddenly vanishes into the ground. Further on, after a steep descent into a little valley, it reappeared from a second tunnel just as suddenly, and from then I was very obviously walking in the hollow of the line.
It was a town path now, well made and busy with people out for a stroll, and Sandsend soon came into view round its own point.
From my point of view this was more the start of the sands, but it was clear how it had come by its name. It was another pretty place, although not as dramatic as the little bay villages - clusters of houses along the sides of a first stream, which the road crossed at its mouth, and some more nice old houses along the seafront, then a second stream which the road swung inland briefly to cross. The beach was mostly empty, but there were a few people pottering about, and I stopped at a beachfront cafe for tea and extravagant cake.
From here the path runs along the main road to almost the edge of Whitby, where it turns back to the top of the west cliff, but that wasn't how I went - having started along the beach, a great open space, I once again just kept on going until I found myself passing a long line of coloured beach huts and the odd rock formations at the very end of the beach to come up by the pier and into Whitby for the second time.
This wasn't the way I was supposed to have come in, so I turned back up to the landmarks on the West Cliff - Captain Cook's statue and the whalebone arch which commemorates Whitby's whaling history. There's also a very good view to the other side of the harbour.
As I came back down from the height a little boat came sailing - or at least gliding - back into the harbour from a trip - it turned out to be a smaller scale replica of the Endeavour, which i couldn't resist, although it hadn't been allowed for in my plans. Just a short trip outside the harbour mouth, with a mix of sea shanties and a potted history of Cook played to us, but it was good fun.
My afternoon was for the town, starting on the newer side and then crossing the river to prowl the old streets and eventually find a belated lunch in a tea room unexpectedly above a jeweller's shop.
The East Cliff is the original settlement, starting with the abbey at the top of the cliff - my second abbey of the journey. The west side of the river grew up later, around Georgian tourism and the railway, but had more room to spread.
I had one last visit to make in the old town - Captain Cook's museum in the old shipowner's house by the river where he lodged as an apprentice, which was full of interesting things, but not so good at presenting the overall story which linked them. I've been to the museum at his birthplace at Marton, which did it better, and the memories of that helped.
And then I was finally ready to collect my bag from the hostel and set off along the coast again - past the point at Saltwick Nab, quarried away to almost nothing, and on to the Whitby fog signal and the tiny lighthouse after it.
At Hawsker the Coast to Coast path joined the Cleveland way for the first time since heading off in the opposite direction at Bloworth Crossing on the high moors, for the last few miles to its end at Robin Hood's Bay.
It's quite a long way from there to the village, round the curve of the last headland and past a strange piece of apparatus once used to launch rockets carrying ropes to stranded ships, but I hadn't made bad time, and it was just on 8 when I reached the top of the road, hoping that someone would still be doing food. In fact the Bay Hotel right at the bottom of the hill was serving food until 9, but it took quite a while until I could get a seat, and apart from the time factor, I was starving - eventually I found a space at one end of a table which a couple were only using part of.
It was pretty dark by the time I had eaten, but it was only about half a mile to the hostel, along a fenced path at the top of the low cliffs, and it wasn't so dark that you couldn't see a path. So I set off again, down a lane on the far side of the tiny harbour and uphill.
As I was starting to think that I might have walked far enough, I found that instead of coming to the hostel I had reached a campsite, which meant that I'd taken a wrong turning, or really failed to make a turning. I wasn't too much out of my way, and if I turned down a track to my left it should bring me down to the back of the hostel - but instead it brought me to the road, which was completely wrong.
However it was enough of a clue to help me figure out what I'd done - instead of finding my way onto the cliff path I'd ended up on a path which headed inland, passing a bigger campsite - a path that wasn't very visible on my map at all, because the museum and some trees were drawn over the start of it. Maybe I should have realised that I wasn't close enough to the sea, but the real path was set a bit back from it anyway, and I'd started by walking up above a little stream valley instead, still with the drop on my left.
But I knew where I was, and to get back where I belonged I had to turn down a farm track on my left, which would bring me down to the smaller campsite and the way down behind the hostel - but the only turning I passed was a proper road with a street sign, which threw me again. But if I went on along the main road it began to dip steeply to the river and the ford, and I wasn't going across there in the dark, so the one turning had to have been the right one.
The track shown on the map turned out to be really just a worn bit along the edge of a field, behind a locked gate, and it wasn't a right of way, but I was long past caring about any of that, or even the fact that there was something very large, cows or horses, lurking invisibly in the dark and presumably wondering very much what I was doing there. It was quite overgrown by the hedge, but I made my way through, and was very glad to meet a gate with the YHA sign at the edge of the woodland in the river valley, and a clear track leading down to the hostel.
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NB. This board is for reports on multi-day long distance routes - reports on simply long walks should be added to the standard boards.
NB. This board is for reports on multi-day long distance routes - reports on simply long walks should be added to the standard boards.