Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Cloughton to Saltburn - 20/21 July 2005 - 11+20 Miles

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This is another retrospective blog of one of my favourite walks, covering some superb coastline and passing through many interesting places.  Despite the title, the section between Robin Hoods Bay and Whitby was omitted as I had walked it earlier in 1988 - this will be the subject of my next retrospective.

I left Birmingham New Street on the 0703, changing at York for the 0937, arriving in Scarborough at 1035.  Since I had walked the stretch between Cloughton and Scarborough on a previous visit in 2000, I caught the bus to Cloughton, arriving there at about 1100.  It was a lovely Summer day and much pleasant walking beckoned, but first I took a little time to explore this sturdy stone built village where I had holidayed in 1988.

The first decision to make is which route to follow north towards Robin Hoods Bay.  The old railway track has memories for me from a holiday way back in 1953 when I travelled down the line as a passenger with my parents en route from Scarborough to Whitby.  I still remember the Shire Class locomotive "Selkirkshire" steaming into Scarborough Station ready to whisk us off to this, at the time, exotic destination.  Sadly the line closed in 1965 and has been converted to a cycle/walking track.

Despite the nostalgia, I did not take this route as it ran for much of its course in cuttings which would have limited the view.  Instead, I made straight for Cloughton Wyke (1126) and turned left to follow the Cleveland Way as my chosen path to the North.  The path was very straightforward to walk and the scene constantly varied as the way rose over hills and then descended to the beach at a number of points on the route.  I encountered few really steep inclines throughout the whole 2 days of walking.

Over the small rise at the unusually named Rodger Trod, past some lovely farmland and down to the beach again at Hayburn Wyke - This was blissful walking!  It contined like this until I reached Ravenscar (1345 - 7 miles), set on high land with a commanding view of the sea on along the coast to Robin Hoods Bay.  Ravenscar was intended, in about 1900, to be developed into a resort to rival Scarborough.  Roads were laid out and a few houses were built, but the idea never really caught on not least because it is a long way down to the beach and there isn't very much of it when you get there.  I remember passing through the station in 1953, but it was closed little more than 10 years later.

The path now took me downwards, past alum workings, to the beach again at Stoupe Beck Sands where I crossed the bridge and then passed the famous Boggle Hole Youth Hostel.  The way now climbed fairly steeply before descending to the foot of Robin Hoods Bay by the beach (1530 - 11miles).  Despite the many tourists, Robin Hoods Bay is always a lovely place to visit and I enjoyed a wander up the narrow lane past the ancient buildings.

Since I had already walked the following stretch of the Cleveland Way to Whitby, I allowed myself the luxury of a bus ride and made my way up the hill to my abode for the night, the Esklet B&B.  Having settled into this basic, but adequate and clean accommodation, I took myself out to explore the town which I knew from many previous visits.  The late afternoon light was perfect for photography as I explored the quaysides and narrow lanes on both sides of the River Esk.  I had promised myself a treat of fish and chips at the legendary Magpie Cafe on the north side of the harbour.  To my dismay, when I got there, the queue for a seat stretched out of the door and along the quay for some distance.  I therefore settled for an al fresco meal of fish and chips from a kiosk, eaten from the paper whilst sitting by the harbourside and fending off aggressive seagulls.  The food was actually very good and I finished it off with an ice cream before taking to my bed for the night.

The next day was cloudier, but still quite warm and there was no sign of rain.  An excellent "Full English" was good preparation for the day ahead and in no time I was walking soon after 0800 along the sands past beach chalets to Sandsend(0910 - 2.5 miles) which is a very attractive place solidly built in stone.  It occupies a position between two valleys and the village spreads itself along the seafront and up into the valleys.

Onwards, along the line of the disused railway and immediately into the reason for the existence of the railway in the first place.  Abandoned alum quarries are very apparent for much of the remainder of the route to Saltburn and the landscape in places can only be describes as Lunar as a result of spoil tipping over the cliffs.  The alum industry has now long gone and with it, of course, the railway.

Shortly, the railway track bed disappeared into a tunnel, but the path continued along the edge of the cliff through Kettleness (1040 - 6 miles), giving some excellent views of the sea and cliffs from my high position.  Rounding the headland, I had a lovely view of Runswick Bay, Nestling in its steep valley at the end of the sandy bay.  Walking downhill now, I had to negotiate the rocky bed of Calais Beck in order to reach the beach.  From there, it was a pleasant walk along the sand to Runswick Bay (1110 - 8 miles).

The village of Runswick Bay is best viewed from a distance.  On arrival, I found the place scrupulously clean and all the buildings were newly decorated.  Possibly because of this, it had little character - at least as far as I was concerned - it was a village of holiday cottages and second homes.  Yesterday's visit to Robin Hoods Bay was far more interesting.  I therefore pressed on over High Lingrow and through Port Mulgrave to Staithes (1230 - 11.5 miles)

My previous visit to Staithes was back in 1969 on a caravan holiday with my wife to be. The harbour, the old buildings and the instantly recognisable cliffs had lost none of their charm.  I only found one change since my last visit - the hideously wonderful "Kirkhill Cafe" had been converted back into a private residence, but still fitted perfectly into its surroundings.  I spent some time exploring and taking photographs before time demanded that I make my way across the Staithes Beck bridge and over Boulby Cliff into County Durham.

The deep potash mine at Boulby, I found out later, is also home to the UK Dark Matter detector - I am not too sure whether they have found any yet!  It is also at Boulby where the coastal railway begins again as a goods only line to carry the potash into the national rail network at Saltburn.  The views were good as I walked on past the factories and the pier at Skinningrove (1450 - 16 miles), joining up with the railway as it meandered its way northwards along the contours.  It was at this point that I came across a strange sculpture depicting a mermaid and various strange animals.

Very soon, Saltburn came into view and I could see the unmistakeable outline of Redcar in the distance.  On reaching Saltburn (1630 - 19.5 miles), I had a little time to explore the seafront, the pier and the cliff railway before boarding my 1727 train home via Darlington and Birmingham New Street.

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Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Hycemoor to Green Road on foot - 28 April 2012 - 14 miles

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A lot of soul searching went into the planning of this walk.  On the face of it, the obvious way would be to drop down the lane from Hycemoor onto the Cumbria Coastal Way and follow this long distance path until I reached journey's end at Green Road.  Although it can be described as the route closest to the coast, unfortunately it had a number of major drawbacks.  Since I was travelling alone, the path is extremely isolated apart from minor incursions in Haverigg and Millom and, presumably out of mobile phone contact for much of its length.

I also had done some pre-reading on this route and the literature is littered with stories of knee deep mud, and hard to walk on shingle.  I still recall with pain my first encounter with Morecambe Bay back in 2004.  I was on my way to Heysham from Lancaster and happened to place my foot inches from the track.  I ended up knee deep in thick clinging mud.  Further on, at the first sign of civilisation, a standpipe had been thoughtfully installed, presumably with the express purpose of cleaning the said mud from walking trousers.  Now clean, my legs were very wet, but the sun was shining and by the time I reached Morecambe, I was dry.

The third reason for not taking the coastal path was simply one of interest.  Had I followed it, I would have seen virtually nothing except for mud, sand and shingle. Walking further inland took me through several towns and villages of the area in addition to a taste of the Lake District.  In terms of my rules, such as they are, I deemed that I would be near enough to the coast.  After all, I am not trying for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records!

Enough of reflection - my journey north ran very smoothly, leaving Hampton-in-Arden (Free parking) at 0624, arriving at Bootle Station at 1050.  Why this station is called Bootle is beyond me when it is situated in the small, largely stone built Village of Hycemoor and can be easily confused with the two Bootle (Liverpool) Stations by the hapless traveller.  Despite this, Hycemoor is a very tidy, well cared for village, not pretty, but can any Lake District working village be so described.

The Sun was shining and the breeze signalled a good day's walking, so I moved swiftly along the lane out of Hycemoor and was immediately greeted by lovely views of the nearly fields and the distant mountains.  The entry to Bootle (1118 - 1.3miles) was a depressing estate of cheap grubby looking housing - yes, Bootle is within the boundary of the National Park but these houses probably pre-date the foundation of the Park in 1951 by no more than 1 or 2 years.  In a way, they could be described as heritage dwellings.  The narrow Main Street is disadvantaged in a different way through having to accommodate the A595.

This was the route I took out of Bootle and, although the verges were fairly generous, I was grateful to escape the traffic at the first opportunity and take to the footpath at Holegill Beck.  From there, I travelled south parallel to the main road along the lower slopes of Black Combe.  There, I enjoyed the pastoral scenes of the lowland beneath me and lazy sheep and cattle.  Despite the unprecedented April rains, the going was firm underfoot with only the occasional wet patch.  At Whitbeck (1221 - 4.3miles) I passed an attractive but not spectacular waterfall on Millergill Beck.

At Sledbank, I parted company with the hills and took a footpath that crossed the railway line that led directly into Silecroft (1300 - 5.8miles).  The middle of this path was not well defined, so I had to retrace my steps for a short distance before I found the correct route into this rather unremarkable village of whitewashed stone cottages.  Moving swiftly on down a grassy lane out of Silecroft and then onto a footpath across fields, I came across "Giant's Grave", the remains of which are two standing stones which date from the Bronze Age.  The associated burial mound disappeared some time ago.

I then followed a lane into Kirksanton (1330 - 6.8miles) which is probably the prettiest place I walked through.  Passing a dovecote, I discovered that many of the houses of the village are arranged round a large village green which is set back from the main road.  I then pressed on across fields which were being prepared for sowing, over a rickety bridge and  towards Haverigg.

The first encounter with Haverigg was the prison and the high fences topped with razor wire informed me that this was a maximum security establishment.  I recall back in 2007 that I accidentally walked into the North Sea Camp Open Prison near Boston.  There was clearly no possibility here!  Haverigg itself (1415 - 9.3miles) is a dull place, but it does brighten up as the small harbour and the nearby pub are reached.  At least one cottage had been spruced up, but the owners clearly had a sense of humour by naming it "Dunelm Cottage".  Perhaps that is where they buy their furnishings.

The next part of the walk was along the edge of the flat expanse of Duddon Sands.  Much of this part of the walk was spent threading my way through sprawling residential caravan sites.  Having worked my way through, I passed a disused quarry on the road into Millom (1500 - 11.5miles).

Millom is a solid if unattractive town.  This is probably down to economic factors and is evident in the poor repair of a number of buildings of architectural interest.  As I made my way towards the station, I passed a number of unoccupied shops which gave the place a rather forlorn look.  By the station, I found the "Bridge Cafe" - not the same place that is featured on "The Apprentice" - and treated myself to a mug of tea and buttered toasted teacake for the princely sum of £1.40!

My original plan was to terminate the walk in Millom but the refreshments worked wonders and I didn't fancy spending the next two hours in Millom waiting for my train.  After a brief look at the church and main square, I moved on along Millom Bank with a spring in my step, with only the sheep for company and views of the estuary on my right and the hills on both sides.  One interesting oddity was a small brick building, presumably from WW2 with what appeared to be a flying goose plaque on the front.  The military are now long gone and the place has been occupied by sheep.

I arrived at Green Road Station (1620 - 14.3miles) in time to catch an earlier 1623 train to Preston via Barrow.  Preston Station was rowdy with Charlton supporters celebrating their promotion to the Championship.  Thank goodness the football season is nearly over and Saturdays will now be quieter - until September.  I made my way to the local Wetherspoon pub where I had a tasty but small portion of fish and chips washed down with a pint.  Thus fed. I made my way back for my train, arriving back in Hampton-in-Arden at 2232 via Birmingham New Street.

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Next Walking Trips

Saturday 26 May - Cumbria
Green Road to Barrow or Dalton in Furness - 15 or 18 Miles

Saturday 30 June - Suffolk
Southwold to Aldeburgh - 15 Miles and Ferry