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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.
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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