The Cleveland Way.
An account of the 110 mile walk from
Helmsley to Filey.
(with the 48 miles Tabular hills link back to Helmsely added on at the end)
Helen - our very favourite barmaid!
(Read all about her 'antics' in the diary!)
My brother Colin and I at the start of the walk in Helmsley.
Day One – Carlton Grange to Sutton Bank – 13(ish) miles
This, my ninth long distance walk, was to start in a surreal way, with me eating a sausage and egg sandwich and being stared at suspiciously by two policemen!
My brother Colin was again to accompany me on this journey, as he had done the last three years. He had found, via the net, that there was a farm where we could park the car while we did the walk for a mere fifty pence a day. This seemed reasonable, so our plan was to get an early start, park the car and set off walking the same morning. To try and gain some extra time, I decided that Colin could cook me a bit of brekky, and I would eat it on the way. So – here I was, after being handed a large and runny egg sandwich, sitting staring into the eyes of the law.
“I wonder what he wants”, I asked Colin, as I waved cheerily with egg all around my mouth.
“Oh, he’s probably a bit edgy as the old lady whose house we’re outside did herself in, and they're watching the house.”
I gave the copper my best; ‘I didn’t do it guv – honest’ look, and waved my sandwich at him. He drove off shaking his head as I tried to wipe my yolk off the side window of the car.
A surprisingly traffic-free drive followed up to Yorkshire. The ‘start early’ plan seemed to have worked and we arrived at Sutton Bank at about 8:15am. Due to my brothers wimpishness (oh – I tried to change his mind, but to no avail) we had decided to use the Sherpa bag carrying service. To save the cost of one drop (five pounds each) we thought that, as we were passing the first B&B, we would drop the stuff off ourselves. I hoped they would be up this early, and we went and knocked on the pleasant looking cottage’s door. All was well, and we bid them farewell and said we would see them later – not too much later, as it would transpire.
Our next stop was Carlton Grange farm, where we would park the car. We were greeted by two of the friendliest people I have ever met, Edwin and Ann Kirby. I thought that seeing as we were only parking the car and not staying there, he might be a bit funny.
Nothing could be further from the truth as he parked my car with precision, using that big spike thing on the front of his tractor!
In reality we were invited in for tea and cake (and biscuits) by Ann, and Edwin came in and chatted to us like he’d known us all our lives. He sat back at the side of the cooking range with a fag in one hand, and fussing the dog with the other. What a timeless scene, I had to capture it with the digital camera in Sepia mode. I feel someday Edwin may write a book, as he has a really great line in ‘caravanner stories’, and I for one was enthralled by the antics they get up to, well – some of them anyway!
After far too long, we finally extricated ourselves from the comforts of the farm and shouldered our sacks and set off. It was like a family farewell with Ann, Edwin and someone else waving and wishing us luck. We felt like intrepid explorers setting out on some dangerous sojourn instead of a couple of wimps using the Sherpa bag carriers!
It was 9:35 am when we finally ‘broke camp’ with crumbs of cake still clinging to our lips. It was a lovely day, if a little overcast and breezy, and we had just to walk into Helmsley to get the starting pictures and begin our walk.
We walked across a few fields by the way Edwin had shown us, instead of the busier road away to our left. The new lambs filled the fields and we were entertained by several of them jumping and gambolling.
We then followed a track and quiet minor road down into Helmsley.
The red roofs soon started appearing after almost an hour of walking. The castle and the church are prominent as you enter the outskirts, and make for good pictures.
Helmsley is a bustling little town, very busy with cars and people. We were a little disappointed to see that scaffolding for repairs surrounded the main obelisk in the town centre. Surely they could have picked a better time than the bank holiday to do it? Anyway, we did a short movie and took some pictures before turning and making our way out of Helmsley, but not before a visit to Thomas’s bakers (recommended by Edwin) and a sausage roll to boost energy levels. Colin said; “I’m going out – I may be some while”. The lady behind the counter said; “doing the Cleveland way, are we – bet you’re using Sherpa to carry your bags".
We ignored her derision and stepped from the shop, heads held high.
Opposite the church, we turned up a lane with a ‘Cleveland Way’ sign on it (this is always a good move). A further delay ensued as we took pictures of the impressive castle, and had our picture taken by a Chinese lady, who insisted. We didn’t want to disappoint her so obliged.
Just outside the town, Colin saw a sign and, as we passed by it, asked me what ‘Viking sticks’ were. Intrigued, I had no option but to walk the short way back and read the sign. It said ‘Walking Sticks’. I made a mental note not to pull out of any road junctions if he said; “You’re all right!”
Within minutes we were free of the teeming hordes and into woodland and meadows, with the church bells ringing in our ears, listening to the birds and smelling the flowers. It really was just too perfect. As the church bells rang, a Curlew called and the sound of a Peacock could be heard in the castle gardens.
The first real view point came quickly at Jinny York Bank. I suppose everyone must take a picture of the lovely little lodge here with the great swathe of a valley to the left. I was no different.
We passed to the right of a dense wood, listening to the pheasant inside and the wind in the top branches. The sky was now blue and the day warm. The woodland was a delight of sound, and I just wondered how it could get any better than this. It’s a lovely feeling of freedom on the first day of a long walk. I can’t describe it, but it always feels the same. Colin knows what I mean. You don’t have to say anything – it’s just great!
After the wood, we dropped onto another minor road and passed a wooded bank to our right which was bursting with wild garlic, its’ heady aroma filling the warm air. I had seen no Bluebells yet, but it was a little early for them. I was content with all I had already seen, so Bluebells would just be a bonus if there were any.
There is an old abbey just off the path at Rievaulx (that’s how it’s spelt in the book?). We didn’t visit it, but we did take pictures. We decided to take a break by the river, and dropped onto the bank to the right of the bridge. This was a most delightful spot, and so photogenic. The sun was in just the right place for pictures, and we took advantage of it. We ate, and sat there for a good while just enjoying our situation. It only needed a Kingfisher to fly past to complete this little paradise. It never happened though. I suppose I could always lie, like I am sure guidebook writers do, but I decided not.
I can always remember looking for Dolphins from St David’s head in Pembrokeshire, after reading that the guide author had seen some. I have been back there loads of times since, and they still elude me!
We finally stirred and made a move from our little oasis. Bridge cottage (1885) was just across the bridge. What do people do for a living to be able to afford to live in these places? It really was one of the nicest cottages, in one of the nicest places. The flowers and garden were inch perfect, as opposed to my own, which would win wildlife awards from the BBC.
After about 25 minutes of road walking, we turned off the road and on to a track which skirts around noodle hill. We paused to read the sign on the gate;
WARNING! ADDERS ON BANK SIDE.
We advanced, if a little gingerly, keeping well away from the bank side and keeping a wary eye out. I have seen these signs on several occasions, in Wales, Derbyshire and Yorkshire but I have yet to see an adder. Maybe it is a figment of the guide writers imagination again (like the dolphins). Anyway, this time we think we may have captured one on film.
The walk up Nettle dale is quite pleasant, with conifers on the left and deciduous on the right, a good mixture of bird song is readily on tap.
While walking up Flassen dale, we were amazed when an obviously tame pheasant walked up to Colin. With his usual command of special languages he started to cluck like a hen! The pheasant decided to treat his impression with the contempt it deserved and just keep touting for any spare food. This worked and, magnanimous as ever, Colin delved into my sack and started to break up one of those energy bars that cost about a pound! The bird pecked up his offering with great gusto, and even came back for more. We fed him half our emergency rations before deciding that us being found dead on some barren moor with just empty power bar wrappers in our sacks would not go down too well with the rescue services;
“These two should never have been on the hill, ill equipped as they were”, would scream the headlines.
As we pressed on, the pheasant refused to believe our kindness was at an end and followed us for what must have been YARDS. He turned back to await the next mugs.
After the wooded dales, the path climbed steadily in a straight line, and up a track, with huge views back. Helmsley did not feature in these now. We reached the hamlet of Cold Kirby. Today it did not live up to its name, and it was quite pleasant in the warm afternoon sun. We were making good time, as it was only just two o’clock, and we were barely two kilometres from where we were staying at Sutton bank. The problem is, we are still in ‘one day’ mode, and not settled in to the ‘we’ve got all day to do this’ style of walking. A whole new set of rules applies when in the latter mode. Paddling and snooze stops are quite acceptable, as are long chats with locals/other intrepid trekkers.
We all too soon reached the Hambleton Inn, which was but yards from our bed and breakfast (next door but three, to be exact). We consulted our Rolex chronometers (it’s amazing what you can buy for £2:99 from the market these days) and discovered it was all of 2:45pm. This left us two choices. Arrive early at the B&B, get organised, sort things out, plan the following day with precision – or go into the pub?
The beer in the Hambleton is really nice. We fell in with some of the horse racing fraternity. A couple of lads, and some very tasty looking girls (if only I was ten years younger – I would STILL be too old) were seated at the bar. They were very friendly and lots of fun, doing impromptu karaoke and telling jokes. We sat slaking our thirsts and listening to the banter, not realising that the beer was sneaking past our unwitting lips. Before we knew it, we reached the four-pint mark! Now I like a drink as much as the next man, but I can’t remember the last time I had four at lunch! We discovered that one of the girls there, Helen, was the niece of our hostess for tonight. She carried – erm - showed us the way to her auntie’s cottage and introduced us. She was working that night, and so two choices now faced us. We could reflect on what a jolly time we had had that afternoon, vowing to come again some other time and meet again the happy Hambleton band, get showered and do a bit of research into tomorrow before a nice early night, or we could get washed and changed and go back.............
The menu in the Hambleton was as impressive as the beer. I chose a plateful of Mussels, while Colin had Pasta. The beer flowed almost as freely as it did at lunchtime, but we controlled our intake and managed to only imbibe another four pints (well, a small whiskey too). The girls were again great company, and we also had the company of our fellow guests, who were also walking the Cleveland way. The weather had taken a turn for the worst, and it had rained in the afternoon and was also raining now. Still, why should we worry? We were ensconced in a warm pub, with warm people around us, and tomorrow was another day. It was another short day too, so we could wait, if the day didn't look promising, for it to develop.
We made our way back to Cote Faw cottage, comfortable and welcoming home of Mr & Mrs Jeffray, where we spent the next hours enveloped in the arms of narcolepsy.
Day Two – Sutton Bank to Osmotherley 11½ Miles
The next morning I opened the curtains (my job every morning was to broadcast a weather forecast to my semi-comatose brother), and wondered why someone had painted the window grey during the night. Was it some form of local tradition? Thoughts of the ‘Wicker Man’ flashed through my mind, but I couldn’t remember Helen dancing naked on the other side of the bedroom door during the night (I'm SURE I would remember THAT!), so I dismissed it.
On further inspection, there was a morning out there; it was just obscured by a pea-souper mist! Also, as my eyes began to focus more on items less than the size of an apple, I noticed the clattering sound that the large droplets of water were making on anything they hit as they plummeted from the heavens. The grim realisation dawned on me – it was raining, and raining really hard!
I couldn’t believe it! Last year Colin and I had endured, sorry – enjoyed, ten unbroken days of great weather in Scotland. SURELY if Scotland could do this, Yorkshire could go one better! I rubbed my eyes, but this only made things worse, and it was with a heavy heart that I informed my brother thus; “Viking, Cromarty, Dogger and Sutton Bank –gale force winds – heavy – force nine.
He grunted, farted and turned over. My turn first in the bathroom, I thought.
After my ablutions, I re-inspected the weather. It had improved inasmuch as I could now see the wall at the end of the garden and the ferocity of the rain had abated to just ‘lashing down’.
The fish from the garden pond were rolling about on the lawn enjoying the unseasonably good (for them) weather. Colin was now surfacing and had his cell regenerator (also known as his radio earphones) plugged into his ears. He bade me ‘good morning’, a little superfluous under the present conditions, I thought. He uttered our only ray of hope – the weatherman said it might cheer up later on. Then I heard who the weatherman was – Ian McGaskill, he of; ‘there is no hurricane coming’ fame.
Osmotherley was today’s goal and, after a very enjoyable breakfast and a chat with Helen and our fellow walkers, we made ready and set off at 9:15am – in the pouring rain!
There were a couple of walkers in front of us using umbrellas. We had considered this option after seeing its practicalities in practice on the West Highland Way. Ideal for showers, I would say the extra weight was worth it. The thing was, I wanted to see if my new ‘Craghoppers’ waterproof coat was just that – waterproof. It was my third one, and I needed to know it worked. So far so good, and I wanted it to stay this way.
We wanted to see the famous white horse cut into Sutton Bank, but the mist and rain made this idea untenable. Where the path went left to the horse , we consulted the G.P.S. (as we didn’t have a barometer) and decided not to waste our time. Besides, Helen had told us last night that they had painted the horse to accentuate it, but some idiots had walked across it and it now resembled a Zebra!
We were also led to believe that the gliders used the updrafts off the bank to do a bit of soaring. Today their pilots would have to read brail to navigate.
As we walked around Sutton Bank, the rain abated and it miraculously started to clear. We never did see the horse, but the sight of the escarpment of Sutton Bank more than made up for this.
Evidence of how good the views are on a clear day was in the form of the ‘money in the slot’ type of telescope dotted here and there. The views improved by the minute, and the camera came out to record the event. We could now see all the way back, and also the only natural lake, Goremire, on the North Yorkshire Moors. From here on the walking is easy and straightforward.
The wet weather had brought out many earthworms, and lots were drowned on the path. As a joke, I took a picture of one and decided to try to pass it off as an Adder in the photograph album. A look back made us contemplate the raw power of nature. It really was impressive the way the valley behind us was neatly ‘scooped out’ by some ancient glacier. It never fails to amaze me the way the land is sculpted by the weather or natural forces. There are also some quite dramatic landslips around here, some of which looked fairly recent. All that rain last night, probably.
The day had improved sufficiently for us to remove our waterproofs and get into holiday garb of tee shirt and shorts again. This prompted another shower and the quandary – shall we stick it out or put the waterproofs back on? We decided to brave it and we were right as it was improvement all the way.
There now followed a typically Yorkshire moorland walk. The vastness, even when compared to something like my native Kinder Scout, was impressive to say the least. The scale of the views on such a day, in such a place really has to be experienced to be appreciated. The day was now warm, and the view clear as we continued along the top of a ridge. There was a huge bowl to our left and the Hambleton drove road lay in front of us.
These old drove roads are a part of history that can easily be appreciated by modern man. Even though times were a lot harder then, I often wonder if those old herdsmen sucked in lungfuls of air and reflected on how they could be stuck in one of those new fangled mills instead of being free, up here on the moors. The Hambleton road swung left at White Gill Head, and took in two spectacular viewpoints before starting to descend.
It was only two o’clock, but we could already see the red tiled roofs of Osmotherley. A lunch stop was called for, so we had it above the reservoirs on Thimbleby Moor. Our fellow walkers caught us up here, and we exchanged pleasantries before agreeing to meet up later in one of the pubs. After our lunch break, we meandered down to the Oakdale reservoirs. It’s always the same, isn’t it? You think you’ve found the perfect place for lunch then, right after, somewhere like Oakdale turns up! The only thing to mar the setting were the awful; ‘don’t do this – don’t do that’ signs. Sometimes people are treated as half wits (mind you, some of them….) but this reminded me that freedom to walk the path was something to treasure. The sort of people who put up these signs, are the sort who would have us banned from walking anywhere.
After the reservoirs, we climbed the final bank where some of the best Jews Ear fungi I have ever seen were growing. This fungus grows exclusively on elder. In dry weather it is hardly noticeable, but in damp conditions, such as had been prominent of late, they resemble a brown ear. They even feel like an ear. I took a picture and returned to the path. Why Jews were chosen to prefix the name, I don't know? I wondered why they weren't just called 'ear fungi'. Then again, Jews DO say they are the chosen ones, maybe it's because of this?
At 3.25pm we walked through a delightful stone arch into the village of Osmotherley. The first view really takes your breath away. It is just such a perfect place. I stood and took a short movie, and as I did, a cockerel crowed at my feet to add the soundtrack – perfect!
We consulted a local as to where the best food was to be had. She told us that there were two pubs, the Golden Lion and the Queen Catherine. There was another, the Three Tuns, and it was re-opening tonight after a long period of closure. One more thing, there was a CHIP SHOP which only opened once a week, and guess what? TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT!!!
We toured the village and inspected some of the shops before wending our way to Oak Garth Farm at the north end of the village.
One of the shops that I am told is a MUST to visit is Thomson’s newsagents. We didn’t get to see it though, as we weren’t told about it until we had left here. A peek inside is probably safest, as I am told that the floorboards are rotten, and the lady who runs it is an old dear with just one yellow tooth. (I was going to do the Juanita – (one-eater) joke but I decided to spare you). Anyway, it is just like stepping back in time, and I wish now that I had got a photo. Still, I know of a very similar shop in Robin Hoods Bay, and I promise you a picture of that one instead!
John and Marion Wood have the most beautiful bungalow, and it is in the most perfect setting. The view from our bedroom window was up on to the moors we had come over earlier. The tranquillity was immeasurable on this perfect evening.
As Colin took first turn in the shower, I talked to John in the garden for a while. He told me all about his family and his heart by-pass. He had built this place himself, right down to the stone wall around it. It must be so gratifying, I thought, to stare at your surroundings and know they would outlive you by many years, and that YOU had created it all. It reminded me of a poem I had seen cemented into a wall in the peak District;
God made man, man made this wall, But, in time, they both will fall. Rebuilt in nineteen ninety three, This time, I hope it outlasts me.
I fitting epitaph, I thought. This building and its surroundings would surely outlast John (and I) but would give pleasure and memories to future generations. The only ‘fly in the ointment’ in this idyllic place was theft. John said, after I had admired a small stone trough, that items had a habit of disappearing in the night. He said he once had a pair of stone mushrooms (they used to stand hen-houses and barns on them to stop rats from climbing up) but they had gone in the night – right from under his lounge window!
After Colin & I had both ‘polished up’, we strolled down into the village. Our first port of call was the Three Tuns. It was obvious that it was their first night, as everything was in panic mode, bar staff didn’t know how to operate the till, and things were a bit fraught, to say the least! It was a strange place, with every single thing being new. It was so disconcerting to notice NOTHING old in the pub! I would guess that even the glass in the windows was new. The beer was quite passable, and the menu looked divine, but it was not the sort of thing walkers went for (except on days off). Although we felt welcome, and I noted it for a future visit on an ‘day off’, we left.
We decided to investigate the chip shop, as there were signs of life. With Whitby on our itinerary during the coming week, I had started to get a bit of a ‘fish fetish’ and so I was easy meat (sic) for the owner. We stood outside, peering through the steam, when all of a sudden the owner was at our side. “Come in lads – we’re just up to temperature”. It was an offer we couldn’t refuse. We stepped inside the murky interior and queued. Before long, our request for ‘fish, chips and mushy peas’ was filled. I was a bit concerned that the peas came straight from the microwave. Hardly rustic, I thought, but one must move with the times.
We decided to eat our feast on the bench in the middle of the village, from where we could watch the world go by. As we tasted the meal, we realised our mistake. Not to make too fine a point, they were singularly the most awful fish and chips I have ever had. To be fair, the only part of the meal I was concerned about was the best – the peas. The rest just tasted strongly of burned fat or oil (hard to say which). Anyway, I blame myself, and we consigned the best part of it to the bin. The worst was to follow. We went into the Lion to see fellow walkers tucking in to a lovely looking Beef Stroganoff and a bottle of red wine. Wiping the drool from my chin, we settled on a pint of very nice Yorkshire bitter. After someone ordered, and was presented with, an enormous steak, we decided to end the torture and cross the road to inspect the Queen Catherine. This was another nice pub with the added attraction of the two walkers, Maggie and David, who had shared Cote Faw with us on Friday night. We got comfortable and didn’t move for the rest of the night.
The walk home was incredible. Do you live in a place polluted by light? Do you ever get to see the night sky in all its glory and in such clarity that you feel you could reach up and pluck a star for yourself? Tonight was that night, and here we were with a perfect black backcloth from ear to ear. Even when we got to Oak Garth, we spent a while in the garden just looking up. We must have looked strange, staring up at the sky. I didn’t care. That sort of night is precious and number few in your life. Oh, they are there often enough; it’s just that we seldom take the time to look.
Day Three – Osmotherley to Clay Bank
(Great Broughton) – 11 Miles.
A frosty night ensued our stargazing, but we were warm and snug, tucked up inside Oak Garth. As usual, I was first up and peeped through the curtains to see what the morning had brought. Nice! It was clear and sunny. The sun, not too strong yet, was casting long, hard shadows in the fields. The sheep were grazing, as usual (did they ever sleep?), and the birds were competing for the loudest call. It was barely seven o’clock. I knew this because the church clock chimed seven. It was a haunting and evocative sound – and it gave me an idea! I quickly washed and dressed. The village was only a short walk away, and I intended to record the sound of the church bells for posterity. I left Oak Garth quietly and made my way along the road. It was still only quarter to eight, but my timing was impeccable. I walked into the churchyard and took a couple of still pictures, one in sepia for effect. As the hour drew near, I positioned myself in the corner of the churchyard, my feet washed with the morning dew. I did a trial sweep with the camera and awaited the hour. 55,56,57,58,59 I pressed the shutter and started the 15-second movie. Right on cue, the bells tolled and I slowly and quietly swept the camera around the churchyard. My fifteen seconds expired just as the chiming finished – PERFECT! That made two super movies that Osmotherley had given me.
Today has the reputation as the hardest part of the walk. I am not blasé, but many times in the past what others have deemed ‘the hardest part’ in books etc, is hardly ever as bad as it is made out. Anyway, we are never fazed by these reputations these days, and set off in the calm and tranquil morning, leaving Oak Garth at 9:15.
If any sandwiches are needed, most provisions can be acquired from ‘the top shop’, one of those places that sell everything and never seem to be closed. I think they could do with a paint job though, as the phone number above the shop is given as ‘telephone 251’.
The Sun was already warm so we made sure the old Sun block was applied liberally. I have seen too many ‘lobsters’ at the end of the day to get caught myself.
As we left Osmotherley, in what the compass said was completely the wrong way, we stiffened to the steep climb up a track and watched as it gently turned to go in the right direction (west). We knew that there was something wrong, as we were walking into the rising Sun at first and, unless the Sun had changed it’s characteristics during the night, we needed to ‘come about’, as our nautical friends would say. Well, come about we did and the day was stunning. This path held spectacular views over to the left, only spoiled by the noise of cars on a main road. As the climb eased slightly, we entered South wood, a welcome shelter from the fierce Sun that now accompanied us.
We started another climb up through the woodland, which imperceptibly changed from evergreen to birch. The path underfoot sparkled, and must consist of gritstone. This phenomenon can be witnessed up on the gritstone moors in Derbyshire. It is especially noticeable on Stanton moor and looks almost like frost, (a strange sensation on such a warm day).
As the path topped out on Beacon Hill, we looked over the wall to where the starting point of the famous Lyke Wake Walk, a triangulation pillar, is situated. I have never done the Lyke Wake, a 40 mile grueller that must be finished in under a certain time (24 hours I think). I have done a similar walk in Derbyshire, the Derwent Watershed. This too is 40 miles over mainly heather moors. I did it in 13 hours, and boy – did I know I’d done it!
Anyway, back to this walk. The view from here on forward is breathtaking. We were lucky to get it on such a clear and sunny day. The valley to the left was quite badly flooded from the recent rains, but the path underfoot was drying nicely.
In the far distance we could clearly see Roseberry Topping, a conical mound which, if local legend is to be believed is the result of some giant scooping out two handfuls of earth and throwing them. This one was the contents of his right hand and went the furthest. The other, his left handful, fell shorter and is called Blakey Topping. The hole left by the giants ‘scoop’ is called the Hole of Horcum.
The path left the wood and we crossed Scarth wood moor. Presently, we again met up with Maggi and David, fellow walkers whose company we had enjoyed on the first night, and who we had seen in Osmotherley. They were occupying a seat with the most stunning views. We took pictures of each other with the wonderful backdrop from this viewpoint and swapped tales of the walk so far.
It’s really nice to meet people like this, and I find it one of the draws of long walks. We may never see Maggi and David again after this, but their company was really good. I still write to a couple I met when I did the Pembrokeshire coast path and they are always inviting me down to their place in Wales, I really must take them up as there are some great walks around where they live.
Clain wood tested my knowledge of bird song (i.e. – limited) severely. They were all competing for loudest/most interesting song, and I was privileged to witness the competition. The deciduous woods always yield a better variety of songs as they attract more species.
The path dropped down, crossed a stile and then went up again. We were puffing a little, but enjoying every minute of the day. I can see how this bit would be called difficult, but seeing as I had shed a stone in weight before coming on this walk, I was sailing up the hills!
Many a large bee buzzed us as we walked along. They are very inquisitive, are bees. They rarely buzz you once, nearly always ‘going around’ for a second or third look. Colin said I must look or smell like a flower, but I don’t know! Any mathematician worth his salt can actually PROVE that a bee cannot fly. It defies all the laws of aeronautics and should never leave the ground at all, but should plummet to it as soon as it takes off, yet here they were, busily going about their business, pausing only to inspect passing walkers.
The long but steady climb up to round hill followed. Conurbations and power stations can be seen on the far horizon, but here it was all tranquillity and green serenity. The red sandstone juxtapositioned with the greenery of the new vegetation was particularly easy and pleasing on the eye. Although the Sun was now quite strong, there was a cool breeze blowing which would have been uncomfortable to sit in without a fleece, but was ideal for walking and kept us at just the right temperature. We couldn’t have ordered a better day!
After round hill, the path drops again before another long steady rise up onto the next ridge with terrific views of the glacial valleys to the left, which were not afforested at all but just covered in purple heather. Every time I see the purple heather, it brings back to me my favourite poem, the Highwayman. I learnt it at school and have loved it ever since. I am such an old softie that I still can’t read it out aloud, as I get a lump in my throat just thinking of the tragedy;
The Highwayman - Alfred Noyes.
The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees. The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas. The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor, When a highwayman came riding, riding, riding, The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn door. He'd a French cocked hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin, A coat of claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin. They fitted with ne'er a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh! And he rode with a jewelled twinkle - his pistol butts a-twinkle, His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky. Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn yard, And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred. He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there? But the landlord's black-eyed daughter, Bess, the landlord's daughter, Plaiting a dark red love-knot, into her long black hair. And dark in the old inn yard, a stable wicket creaked, Where Tim, the ostler, listened, his face was white and peaked; His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay. But he loved the landlord's daughter, The landlords’ red-lipped daughter; Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say - "One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize tonight, but I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light. Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day, Then look for me by moonlight, Watch for me by moonlight, I'll come to thee by moonlight, though Hell should bar the way. He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand, But she loosed her hair i' the casement – (his face burnt like a brand) As the black cascades of perfume came tumbling o'er his breast; And he kissed its waves in the moonlight. (Oh sweet black waves in the moonlight), then he tugged at his reins in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west. He did not come in the morning; he did not come at noon; And out o' the tawny sunset, before the rise o' the moon, When the road was a gypsy's ribbon, looping the purple moor, A red-coat troop came marching - marching - marching - King George's men came marching, up to the old inn-door. They said no word to the landlord, but drank his ale instead, But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed. Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side! There was death at every window; And Hell at one dark window; For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that HE would ride! They tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest; They had bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast! "Now keep good watch!" and they kissed her, she heard the dead man say; "look for me by moonlight; watch for me by moonlight; I'll come to thee by moonlight, though Hell should bar the way!" She twisted her hands and tested; but all the knots were good! She writhed her hands 'till her fingers were wet with sweat, or blood! She stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years, 'till now, on the stroke of midnight, cold on the stroke of midnight, the tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers! The tip of one finger touched it, she strove no more for the rest! Up, she stood to attention, with the barrel beneath her breast. She would not risk them hearing; she would not strive again! For the road lay bare in the moonlight; Blank and bare in the moonlight; And the blood of her veins in the moonlight, throbbed to her love's refrain. 'Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot'! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear. 'Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot', in the distance, were they deaf that they did not hear? Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the the brow of the hill, The highwayman came riding, riding, riding! The red-coats looked to their priming - she stood up straight and still! 'Tlot-tlot', in the frosty silence! 'Tlot-tlot', in the echoing night! Nearer he came, and nearer! Her face was like a light! Her eyes grew wide for a moment; and she drew one last deep breath, Then her finger moved in the moonlight, Her musket shattered the moonlight, Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him - with her death! He turned; he spurred to the westward; he did not know who stood. Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood Not 'till the dawn he heard it, and slowly blanched to hear How Bess, the landlords daughter, The landlords black-eyed daughter, Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there. Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky, With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high! Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat; When they shot him down on the highway, Down like a dog on the highway, And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat. ~ and still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees, when the moon is a ghostly galleon, tossed upon cloudy seas, when the road is a ribbon of moonlight, over the purple moor, a highwayman comes riding - riding - riding - a highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the old inn-yard And he taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred; He whistles a tune at the window, and who should be waiting there? But the landlords black-eyed daughter, Bess, the landlord's daughter; Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.
Oh dear – tears in my eyes again! My Aunt always calls that poem morose, but I think it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read.
The walk continued along Faceby bank and past the gliding club. We had noticed one of the graceful white craft swishing above us. It is something I have always wanted to do, along with ballooning, as it always seems so serene the way they move and glide. We had noticed what looked like a fire engine cut in half. When we reached it, that is exactly what it was! They used the winch on the front for towing gliders. It did look strange though, half a fire engine!
There were several craft queuing to get their turn to take flight, and what a day to do it on. The views, which had been very good before, were now defying description. I would imagine you would be able to see all of forty miles or so from here on a clear day. Today was pretty clear, and the fact that we were on a ridge and the vast, flat valley was to our left only served to accentuate the magnificence. Although there was a very slight haze on the horizon, the sky was ice blue with my favourite accompaniment – fluffy white clouds! This was all to much to just walk by, so we stopped off on an escarpment just beyond the busy trig’ point, and had a long, languishing lunch. The pictures here will help to tell the story of just how wonderful the place was this day. You just have to stop taking pictures sooner or later, but every time I cast my eyes across the vast, green plain in front of and below us, I just sighed with contentment. Apart from the stark, yellow fields of Rape, we could also see the sea. It was very like being in an airplane and looking down. Colin & I sat, as we so often do in these circumstances, quietly; muted by what we were looking at. Views like this are only matched by clear, starry nights. They too have that humbling effect that is really difficult to put into words.
After lunch we reluctantly re-joined the path. We could see our destination, Great Broughton (pronounced ‘brow-ton’), but it would be a while before we headed towards it. There were several places where we could come off, but on a day like today, we would choose the very last exit so we could enjoy as much of the day as possible.
At the top of Kirby Bank there is a memorial to Alec Falconer, a rambler and founder of the Middlesborough Rambling Club, who died in 1968. The club have placed a topographic plate here, and it points out and names all the prominent features around – very handy on a day like today, but the source of much frustration on a foggy day!
The next section of the path was ‘Pennined’ – by that I mean it was huge stone slabs laid end to end to combat erosion. There is a lot of work like this on the Pennine way, and to be honest I agree with it, it is far prettier than the ugly scars of rutted paths. These stones, are the floors of old cotton mills, repurposed.
We dropped down into a small valley where there was a path to Great Broughton, but we pressed on up the other side towards White Hill and the next point of great interest – the Wain Stones.
By now the wind had risen slightly but it was still quite warm. The Curlews were calling their hearts out which just added to our huge enjoyment. I had a camera with me that took short movies with sound, and I intend to capture one of these haunting calls. The problem is, the breeze would be picked up far more readily by the microphone than the Curlews call. I would have to wait for a becalmed day.
When we reached the Wain Stones, we clambered up onto them and took another break for pictures and to chat to people there. The end of the day was just beyond the next portion of the path, and we were reluctant to bring that point to bear. Again the views from here vied with previous ones for most excellent. They were also like the stones in many parts of Derbyshire, particularly the gritstone edges, but the stupendous flat valley views were very different.
Just before we lost height, we used the mobile phone to ring our host for tonight to tell him our arrival was imminent, and to ask him for the number of a local taxi firm, (the road to the village was vergeless and busy) but he very kindly offered to pick us up. We arrived at the car park at Hasty Bank at the same time as Don Robinson. We had told him we would be easily recognisable as we were both wearing ‘Superman’ tee shirts. This was something Colin and I often do on a walk, just to stimulate comments from passing walkers and also just for a laugh! We got into Don’s Volvo and were whisked down to Holme Farm. Don made a point of the fact that we were the first walkers he has ever picked up in his eighteen years as a B&B host. I wondered why his card only said; ‘lifts back to the footpath’? Anyway, we were crestfallen. Labelled, as we were, as ‘not proper walkers’. We slunk off to our bedroom and wondered whether we deserved, or indeed were entitled to, the high tea Don had offered (lower caste that we were) but decided to go down anyway, as there were no ‘proper’ walkers to witness our shame – we were the only residents this night.
We sat in the small lounge and quietly poured the tea, observed as some ‘sub-species’ by Don from the kitchen. He was cooking something for himself, which was very garlicky. As I like garlic, it really got the juices flowing and I had already decided what I was having at the pub after this ‘nose-fest’. As we sat there, I noticed a videotape on the shelf that was about Wainwrights’ coast to coast walk. I asked Don what it was, and he said we could take a look at it (it might teach us how to walk properly). Anyway, whilst consuming the tea and bikkies, we watched it. The tape was an amateur production by two blokes who decided to walk to coast to coast for ‘charidy, mate’. They did it he-man style, ie – they backpacked! We watched in amazement as they were constantly drenched over the first few days, slept in a draughty barn as their tent and stuff was all wet, woke up still wet and miserable in the morning, plodded on relentlessly with their huge packs, missed the pubs and didn’t shower for almost a week – ah, the romantic life of a ‘proper’ walker. Colin and I did a bit of soul searching to discuss whether we should cast off this false mantle of ours, and opt for the style of MEN! The style of those who do it PROPERLEY! In TENTS!
We thought for about five seconds, and then went off to the pub for a malt or two and maybe a steak.
At the pub we met up with David & Maggi again. This would probably be the last time, as we had a long day tomorrow. We told them of our shame, and Maggi then regaled us with snippets of the walk down from Hasty Bank. She said that it was a nightmare. The cars were going like hell, and lots of motorbikes screamed past. We had seen the police with a radar gun, whilst we were in the Volvo coming down, and that should have told us the sort of road it was. Anyway, Maggi said that one woman was in tears as she tried to avoid the cars by scrambling up the banked side of the road, but kept slipping back. Colin and I glanced sideways, we might not be ‘proper’, we thought, but at least we would live to walk another day!
Maggi told us that, after walking for half the distance, they could stand no more and rang their own hostess, who willingly picked them up and expressed her surprise at them even attempting the walk, especially as it was Easter Sunday and worse than usual.
Unfortunately, Maggi was very tired so they went off early. We had a most agreeable meal (chicken Kiev with garlic bread) at the pub, the 'Jet Miner', and decided to stretch our legs and visit the other hostelry in the village. When we arrived, the welcome was fine but the place was plastic. One of those ‘Happy Harvester’ places where all the tables have numbers and the food is counted (twenty chips, thirty peas seven carrot slices, etc). They did, however, have an impressive selection of malt whiskeys. We sampled two each, and sat reading the cards with the information on about all the others.
At about 10:45 we decided to wend our way home, as we too were now feeling the efforts of the day creeping up on us. As we strolled back to Holme farm, it started to rain. By the time we got there it was coming down quite hard. We wondered if we should sleep in the barn to atone ourselves with Don, but thought better of it and snuggled down into our comfortable beds.
The next morning we went down to breakfast and found a different Don. He was much more chatty and inquisitive. His breakfast was more than adequate to set us up for the day ahead, and included two things I had dreamt about since the start of the walk – real coffee and scrambled eggs! We consumed it with gusto.
Outside the weather was perfect. The forecast was for rain later, but for now it was bright sunshine and wispy clouds – my favourite!
We set off walking, after being given a lift back to the path by a Don now in an unstoppable flow of pleasant conversation mainly about his personal war with the local cats.
Day Four – Clay Bank (Gt. Broughton) to Guisborough 17 miles
We waved him goodbye and climbed our ‘breakfast hill’ in strong sunshine accompanied by a light wind. It was 9:25am.
The views back were astounding, and, as is usual in these situations, I marvelled at what we had covered the previous day. We could see the entire range of hills, and the vast valley too. THIS was ‘proper’ walking, 100% enjoyment! It has to be said that, now it’s over, when I write this walk up I will not consider yesterday to be any harder than other days really. Maybe if the weather had been bad, I may have told a different story, but how can you mock or deride perfection?
Today too was headed for the ‘nice day’ list. A comfortable breeze, superb surroundings, Curlew calls ringing in our ears and Skylarks singing away. The only fly in the ointment was the ominous black cloud headed our way. Ah well, live for the moment and enjoy while you can!
We reached the top of Round Hill and I couldn’t resist climbing on top of the trig’ point for a photo with a wonderful backdrop of endless moorland.
I suppose it would have looked better with the Superman tee shirt on, but that was still smelly from yesterday! (Using this pack carrying service – washing was one of the lower ranks of jobs to be done. While we were there, we heard the call of what I presumed to be some bird of prey. Oh, how I wish I were more 'au fait' with these calls. It was one I don’t think I’ve heard before. A sort of screaming call that would be associated with big blokes, with big hunting birds hanging on to their leather-clad arm. We would just have to be content with the mental picture because, although we scanned the skies, and the call was tantalisingly close, we didn’t see the singer.
We carried on along the course of an old railway line, again being made well aware of the vastness of the moors. With being so high up now, we were kings of the castle and the land for miles around surrendered to our gaze. If you ever want to feel insignificant, and can’t afford a trip into space to look back at the Earth, come up here!
The days grew a little chill, as the Sun was now being hidden by cloud. We donned our fleeces, and immediately felt too warm. It was one of those days though. Too warm with a coat on, too cool without. Oh to be in England, now that summer’s here!
The path meandered left then right as it followed different tracks. According to the G.P.S. we were but eight miles from our destination. As stated before, the trouble is, they ‘talk’ in straight lines and we were much further. Not that this was an issue, as we were really enjoying the day and, apart from the way the pebbly surface of the old tracks dug into our feet, everything was tickety-boo, and we were very happy bunnies!
We were now heading for the sharp hill we had been able to see for the last couple of days. It is called Roseberry Topping. In line with coastal walking (but mainly because we were so high up), this walk ‘allows’ you to see future goals, and, as usual, I was amazed how quickly we were covering the miles to get to these distant objectives.
At about 11:45 we were surprised to see Maggi and David. We caught up with them and greeted each other, expressing our surprise that they were in front of us. Maggi said she knew we were not in front, as she had been looking at the patterns of the boot soles in the dirt, and ours weren’t there! Amazed at this piece of detective work, we nominated Maggi for the ‘Police Inspector’ award for the week, and decided thst she must be part Apache. After she had explained the difference, we kept looking at our own prints to see. Every bit of wet or soft ground for the next few miles had our boot prints in it!
Maggi and David told us good their B&B had been, and as they wholly recommend it, (and personal experience is so important), their hostess was; Mrs Huntley, the Newlands Guest House, Great Broughton. It is not in the accommodation guide, but it is on the Internet.
The sky cleared nicely, and we parted company with our companions as they were staying at Kildale, a short distance away. If they had walked with us, they would have been there for lunch, and I don’t think they wanted to get away from this now perfect day. We could see the valley in which Kildale nestled to our front and left, and we could also see a finger of stone, Captain Cook’s monument, on the hilltop in front of us. This was our next visual goal, and we would sit at its side very soon.
It looked a good walk away, but experience told us we would be there in an hour and a half or so. A quick look back proved this, as the ground we had covered already this morning looked immense.
The path turned into a Tarmac road, which is never pleasant for your feet, and continued so right into the village of Kildale. We lost height dramatically, and the views were now all up, to where we had walked all morning. We could also see the edges we had walked the previous day, they looked superb dressed in the blue mantle of far horizons. A tingle of excitement ran through me as I surveyed what we had done, and savoured what lay ahead.
We entered the sleepy little hamlet of Kildale, greeted by a couple of friendly locals. We paid the village shop a visit, which we were surprised to find open at 1:30 on bank holiday Monday, and filled our provisional needs. They were also kind enough to fill Colin’s flask with hot water (he’d die without his cuppa). They also do sandwiches, etc if you need them. There is a café too, and we stopped for a well-earned cup of tea. I thought when we came to Yorkshire that, famous as it was for it’s tea, we would get a really great cuppa. The truth was, that most of what we had had so far was the same as this – weak and a poor example. I bemoaned the fact that it was so, and cost us two pounds for the privilege of finding out.
We left Kildale by a very steep Tarmac road, with the clouds massing threateningly above us. Mercifully, the sun was not out, as this climb really was ‘a grunt’. We plodded up to the top, panting with our exertions, and turned to admire the view (always a good ploy for a quick rest); “No, no – not tired old boy, just admiring the view”.
After the mile-long climb, we turned into Coate Moor wood. Now Colin and I are both rufty-tufty walkers (despite the reservations of Don) but the mud on this path was DEEP! Quagmire would be too soft a description. It had been churned by all manner of feet and tyres. We picked our way through it, and the draw of this path soon became apparent as the obelisk that was the Captain Cook monument loomed ahead. We walked through the gap in the wall and onto Easby Moor. No wonder this thing could be seen for miles. It stood sixty feet erect, and is a fitting monument to the famous Yorkshire sea captain. Even though I knew it would be big, it is still awesome as you approach it. When we could pull our eyes from this spectacle, we noticed there was also a preety good view of Roseberry Topping to the right.
It was about lunchtime, so, using the perimeter fence as a backrest, we reclined to explore our lunch packs. At that moment the heavens opened, sending ill clad tourists scurrying everywhere. We put on our coats and continued our repast, bemoaning the fact that all the views had been swallowed up by the rain.
At 2:45 we stood and continued our walk. The rain had eased slightly, and the sky was clearing. On the path down into the valley, we heard our first Cuckoo. I did attempt to record the sound, but the camera I had, which takes the short video movies, was reluctant to pick up the call. I don’t know why, but the Cuckoo’s song was difficult to hear. Small, shrill birds were no problem – and the sound of water was positively welcomed by the camera – but the Cuckoo?
Anyway, we were ‘treated’ to a few odd showers as we went on, both of us processing the fact that we were dropping steeply now, and the old adage of Sods Law concerning walking came into our minds;
WHAT GOES DOWN, MUST COME BACK UP.
At the bottom of Cockshaw Hill (which prompted the obvious jokes), we crossed a litter strewn car park complete with the remains of a burnt out tent, and started the climb up the other side to top out Great Ayton Moor. The path here was again very muddy, this was because it was en route to the path to Roseberry Topping. Here a short diversion takes you to the top, where, we read, terrific views can be seen. Not today, Hosĕ! The rain was still coming down and visibility was about thirty yards!
We left the throngs of sandal clad women and sensible shoed blokes, squishing their way through the mud on their personal pilgrimage (we’re ‘ere Hilda, so we’re going up!) and pressed on across Newton Moor, languishing in now strong sunshine and our own company.
We entered Highcliff Wood and, after a short section, reached Highcliff Nab. Here, we were afforded our first view of the sprawl that is Guisborough. The place looked H-U-G-E to us after being used to seeing piddling little villages. Massive school buildings, a major road, housing estates and, somewhere in this mass, our B&B, the Three Fiddles hotel! How were we to find it? Even the G.P.S. would struggle here. We decided to drop straight into it and just ask for directions. We did try ringing them on the mobile, but I’m afraid the girl who answered it must have thought they shouted ‘beds’ not ‘heads’ when she was given one, and so asked for a big soft one! What we did glean from the call was that, although it was now 4:45pm, it sounded uncharacteristically busy in the bar? What had we let ourselves in for, we wondered.
We descended the slippery track and into the outskirts of the town. We headed for the centre and asked the first person we met for directions, which we were given.
Our first impression was, to say the least, only served to reinforce my belief that most pub B&B’s are overpriced. The bar was busy, but we were shown up to our room straight away. We were offered two rooms, this we found strange as we had ordered a twin, (being brothers, we had this habit of talking to one another and wanted to perpetuate it), so we asked if we could share just the one room. We were told we could, then when we saw the size (or, rather, lack of it) of the room – we seriously reconsidered our decision. I looked in the wardrobe for the cat, but of course there wasn’t one – if there had of been, there would have been no room to swing it anyway! I suppose I could make a list, (tiny room, beds too close, lights not working, window catch broken, double glazing in the form of a sheet of plastic, very creaky floors, dingy bathroom (across the hall) with shower held together with yellow insulating tape, no slip mat in the bath, black mould everywhere,) but I won’t! At forty pounds for the two of us, we decided that this must be the first of the three fiddles! Fearing that the other two would be the price of the food, and the price of the beer, we sallied forth, refusing to part with more money here as we felt we were already being ripped off.
That evening, with such a choice available to us in this great Metropolis, we browsed the take-aways. The decision made, we entered the ‘Wan Hung Lo’ Cantonese. We chose our particular poisons, and sat outside on a bench to eat it. We noticed the signs outside forbidding drinking on the street, and the antics of a gang of lads down the road. They were obviously the worse for wear from alcohol, but hey, come on - it WAS seven thirty!! I wondered just what they would be like if they had been allowed to drink in the street. Thank God for sensible laws, we thought.
After our ‘bench-fest’, we decided to have a walk through the town, check out the bus times for tomorrow. The far end (North East) of town is quite nice, with the remains of an old abbey plus some nice shops, which were hiding behind anti ram-raid poles, standing like soldiers on the pavement. (Oh my God, I’m turning into ‘Tommy Tourist’!)
We sorted out that we would catch the bus at 9 o’clock and, with tomorrow ‘sorted’, we set off to seek out the fleshpots of Guisborough.
Partial as I am to blues music, we were attracted into one of the many local pubs. We sat in the lounge, and Colin held a fragmented conversation with a chap at the bar who was obviously drunk, but in a pleasant way. The barmaid told us that their was a party for some local guy, and there was live music ‘in the back’ (which turned out to be quite a nice function room) and all were welcome – no charge. We thought we’d give it a look, and I am glad we did. We had a great night, with free food (if only we’d known) free music but alas – no free beer! Still, mustn’t grumble, the music was really good.
When we got bad to the multitude of fiddles, sorry – THREE fiddles, the landlady asked us what time we would like breakfast. We asked if 8:00am would be ok, and she said; “fine”. We made our way up to bed, being careful not to creak the floorboards too loudly so as not to upset the revellers below! We settled down and drifted into the arms of sleep.
Day Five Guisborough to Staithes - 16 miles.
For those of you that don’t recognise that sound, it’s a large metal pole (ostensibly for the construction of market stalls, but doubling as an alarm call for sleepy walkers) being dropped by some oaf from a large height at 5:00am. I say oaf, this guy must have ‘A’ levels on what height to drop these poles from to cause maximum annoyance and resonance!
It was like a horror film as I sat, bolt upright, as the noise reverberated through my brain. When the rest of me had caught up with my wide awake eyes, I pulled back the curtain and deftly swung back the ‘double glazing’ plastic sheet. I saw the object of my torment, happily going about his………
CLANNNG-DIDDLY-ANG-DANG-DANG-DANGGGGGG!!!!!!! …….business. I thought about shouting obscenities at him, but decided it would do no good, and besides – there were more of them now. Any minute now I was expecting a blast of;
“cummon laydees – get yer luverley flowers – ony one parnd a bunch”.
I sighed, Colin was still asleep, but he had his mini radio plugged into his ears – did he know something I didn’t? I got mine out, stuck the earpiece in and lay back, just as the third;
Rang through my head.
We eventually got up, a bit bleary-eyed, and completed our ablutions and then made our way to the breakfast room. It was only 7:50am, but we could get the cereals done with. When we got to the breakfast room, it was eerily quiet. The cereals were there, but no milk! We checked to make sure the cereals were still alive (can’t be too careful what with all these ‘cereal killers’ about – groan).
I looked out of the window and saw some bloke below, standing outside the pub door.
“Christ, they start early up here”, I said to Colin, nodding down at the figure below. “He looks just like that bloke that’s collecting our bags along the way”; said Colin. I had to admit that he did. Ten past eight came and went – then quarter past – no noise or milk. I went and knocked on the door that all B&B’s have that say ‘PRIVATE’ on it – no response. I had this idea, and decided to ring the ‘Fiddles’ on my mobile;
“Ring-Ring – ring-ring – ring-ring - ring-ring – ring-ring – ring-ri…..(fumble,fumble) - HELLO!”
“Oh hello, it’s Mr Singleton for the eight o’clock breakfast, do you think we could have some milk for the cereal please?”
Silence followed by more fumbling.
“Oh God – erm, this has never happened before (fumble) I’ll be right in” CLICK
“She’ll be right in Bruv”, I said.
She came in at just after half past eight with our milk. “Oh, by the way, there seems to be someone outside”, I said. She looked down, and then left the room. She re-appeared and said it WAS the guy from the pack carriers, and did we have our cases ready? He was very early, but due to clang-diddly man, we had had oodles of time this morning, and everything was indeed packed. We took the cases down between courses.
The breakfast did come eventually, and it was not bad (I think we had extra sausage to atone her 'faux pas' with her lie-in). I must say she was really pleasant, but for all that the Three Fiddles is a place I would never go to again, nor recommend to anyone else.
There was no way we would have made the bus, so she very kindly gave us a lift back to the Cleveland way at Skelton, where we resumed the walk at 9:40 in brightening weather, but VERY soggy fields from the overnight rain. Optimistically we were wearing shorts and tee shirts and, although it WAS raining very finely, we trusted it to brighten up.
We entered Crow Wood, seeing the very odd patch of bluebells. It was a bit early for them yet, but one or two brave bunches were out and it was nice to see them. The overwhelming flower was the Ramson, or Wild Garlic. There were carpets of these on most of the woodland banks, their pungent scent filling the air. We often picked a leaf and crushed it in our hands, sucking up the perfume. You can use these plants in cooking, fish wrapped in a few of them a particular delicacy. Best when young, but can be used throughout their lives, being tougher towards the end. The wood is quite a nice place, trying very hard to be a haven but, close as it is to ‘civilisation’, the amount of rubbish vied with the plant life for ground space
Skelton Beck was tumbling and rushing, gorged with the previous nights’ rain. We passed under a massive rail viaduct, which surprisingly only gets a passing mention in the guidebook, and on through Rigg wood.
In the wood, some wag had drawn faces on all the places where branches had been sawn from trees. We thought it was a one-off at first, but it soon became apparent that, whoever had done it, was prolific!
The next place we came across was a little nature reserve. There were bird tables, food for the birds on the ground, hides and information boards. It was as if the birds felt safe here, and to our surprise and delight, they came in their hoards to feed. Squirrels too took from the tables, and I got a good few pictures of the visitors feeding. We sat for ages just watching them and listening to the song-filled air around us. It was like another world here. What did surprise us was that the ‘official’ route did not bring you through here, but a local had suggested it as a nicer way to get to Saltburn. How right he was! The laid out gardens, called the ‘Italian gardens’ were stunning. There was a good deal of backbreaking work in those beds, I can tell you. The pictures will show you what I mean.
At the end of the valley we got our first sight of the sea. It was WONDEFUL! The tide was right in and the gulls were calling fit to bust. OH, how I love the sea birds call. It is so heart lifting to hear it again. We crossed to the beach and just took it all in. The sea here must go quite a way out when it recedes, as there were lots of boats and almost as many tractors to tow them!! The sea was gradually claiming the bodies of these vehicles, they were all displaying the brown streaks indicative of the corrosive effect of the salt water.
Actually, a quick look at the guidebook map shows that the sea DOESN’T go out that far – why all these tractors then, I wonder? One to ponder but for now a true taste of coastal walking, and our first cliff to climb. Two fellow walkers who, like us, were admiring the view back down to Saltburn joined us on the cliff. We talked about our different journey experiences, and they walked with us a section of the way. It was pleasant to have some different company for a while and gave us chance to recount what had happened so far, and to listen to their own tales.
We joined the Boulby Potash railway line and marvelled at how close it came to the eroding cliffs in places. SURELY it was not long for this earth? It was barely thirty feet from the edge at times, and I am sure a 100 ton loco would shake itself to oblivion before too long. Again, the picture will tell you the story.
Just beyond one of the worst stretches of erosion lies an old mine. Here we saw one of the ‘New Milestones’ of Skelton and Brotton. These were sculptures to do with the environment. The one we saw was called ‘CIRCLE’. It is a seven-foot diameter circle with metal sculptures hanging in it . A horse (for the Cleveland Bay Horse); a starfish (for the shore); a pigeon, a cat (in the 1300’s cats were hunted around here); an owl; a nautilus (for fossils); a piece of protoplasm (basic to life); Thor’s hammer (relating to blacksmith work); a ring and a Mermaids purse (common to the seashore). The works are by an artist called Richard Farrington, and there are two more along the Cleveland Way, the Trawl Door and the Marker Post.
We dropped into a place called Skinningrove. Words fail me to describe just how ugly the place is! No wonder it gets hardly a mention in the guide. The new houses on the front are an eyesore, and looking up to the old places – well, go there and judge for yourself. I have a friend who is as hard as nails, and he backpacks all the long distance paths with his brother. I think he did the ‘Cleveland’ in about three days. Even he, at the end of a long, hard day, was reluctant to stay here in his tent. He said that they got an eerie feeling here, and thoughts of a film (The Wicker Man) kept coming to mind. So unsettled were they that, despite rain and failing light, they pressed on to Staithes, a further seven miles on!
We passed the line of houses and the ramshackle huts on the ‘beach’ and quickly climbed the cliff path out of there. It will be too soon if I never go to Skinningrove again.
More startling examples of the erosion is evident beyond Skinningrove. It looks like repairs have begun on the path, but already the ‘new’ bit has been swallowed into the abyss to the left. As Colin said, the sea will win in the end – it always does.
The favourite local 'game' seems to be footpath signs. I was almost tempted to try a bite out of one, as they must be full of flavour judging by the amount of shot they attract??? I wonder what it is that makes people shoot these poor defenceless signs? It is not just a local thing – I see it all over the country when I am walking. It’s as if people who have had no sport all day take it out on the little yellow arrows because they can’t run away.
The wind chilled ominously after about fifteen minutes of walking on the cliff tops. I knew what was coming – it can be felt in the air and, sure enough, the first spits of rain were felt. We had not stopped today, so we decided to make the most of things before the rain really set in. We sat on the cliff top at Boulby, wondering just how long it would be before the house with the nice red roof slipped over the cliff and into the waiting sea. By its close proximity, we thought it might even be worth waiting!
As we finished our late lunch, the rain decided to make its presence felt. We didn’t bother with the over trousers, as we figured Staithes was close enough to get to before a good soaking was had. WRONG! It came down in rivets, and it clattered on our hoods as we walked along. A short section of Tarmac road led down into Staithes where, even though our B&B was but a short distance away, we took shelter from the lashing torrential downpour. Presently it did abate slightly, and we made our way to the ‘Harbour Side’ B&B.
I had been to Staithes a few times before and had always coveted this little place we were staying in. It looks so perfect, with the best view of Staithes you could wish for. We looked across the sheltered harbour to ‘Cowbar’, which is a rock cliff hanging perilously over a row of houses. I would not live in one of those cottages for a bagful of gold – they looked in imminent danger, even though there was obvious work being done to shore them up! On one previous visit, I had witnessed a huge lump of cliff fall with a rumbling series of thuds into the river – no, Staithes was nice, but I don’t want to live or stay on the ‘cowbar’ side, thank you!
It felt good to be ensconced here in the ‘harbourside’ at last, and the owner made us very welcome and comfortable. The room was a little small, but this was an old fisherman’s cottage, so we weren’t complaining. We had carte blanche to use all the radiators we could find to dry our stuff. To make matters worse, we really needed to do a bit of sock washing. Well, it all got done and all got dry by the next day, so all was well.
I treated myself to a bath. It was one of those bottomless affairs that really cosseted you as you sank into its depths. I have never seen so much choice of shower gel and bath additive in my life! I wondered if it was what previous guests had left behind? Whatever, I languished in ‘melee of Melon juice and jojoba’ or something like that. (What the hell is ‘jojoba’???). It seems to be in everything these days. I would be the best smelling walker in Staithes tonight, or my name isn’t ‘Cap’n Ahab’!
When Colin went for his turn, I took a stroll around the little fishing hamlet. It had stopped raining by now, and so I visited the ‘Cod & Lobster’ pub, which is perched as close to the sea as you could possibly get, so much so in fact, that it was quite feasible that the Cod & Lobster were two regulars! I marvelled at some of the photos that such places revel in putting on the walls. You know the type – you can’t see the pub for the huge wave that has just broken over it. There was also one of the sea running up the main street. “Got up as far as the butchers”, I was told when spotted looking at it on the wall. ‘Note to self – don’t have the salt beef for dinner’.
I had a walk up to poke around the rest of the village and the two other pubs. Staithes is quite a nice place, although a teensy bit run down. I know from past visits that there is a very good Captain Cook museum, which holds some amazing artefacts and personal items of his. I was trying to find out if there was any entertainment on anywhere. I felt a bit of a sea-shanty evening welling inside but the best Staithes could offer was ‘QUIZ – TONIGHT – 8:30’ in the Royal George. Ah well, the cruel, raging sea would have to remain unsung for another night.
We had a passable meal in the ‘George’, and tried the quiz. We proved woefully inadequate and didn’t even win the booby prize. We blamed this on tiredness and damp ingress. The only highlight of the evening was meeting some people who had the brilliant email address of ‘gerry@trix’ (say it). I promised to drop them a line when I got back.
Day Six – Staithes to Robin Hoods Bay (Fylingthorpe) – 18(ish) Miles
Did you know that seagulls don’t sleep, and call all night? No? Neither did I – until that night! I am a lover of bird calls, even when they break my sleep, but I was amazed, fazed and dazed after about three a.m.
It was pitch black, cold and wet but STILL the bl**dy things kept calling! The funny thing is, as I listened to my Dictaphone to write this diary, there they were in the background on the tape – still calling!
Come seven a.m. I was a very tired bunny, and seagulls were right down there at the bottom on my ‘favourite birds’ list.
The morning broke, or rather squelched. There was a sea mist that you could cut lumps out of, and, yes – it was howling down with rain! I pulled back the curtains, and then drew them again. It looked bad – very bad. This was a really nice stretch of the walk, and I was keen for Colin to see it but it looked like our luck was out and we would have to spend the day looking at our feet. It was a good job we took pictures last night, as today there was no chance.
We slowly got our things together and packed, just in case the ‘early bird’ from the Sherpa service caught us on the hop again. We then went down to breakfast, which was a self-service affair, and the owner of the harbour side (which doubled as a café), served us from behind the counter. It was a scrumptious repast, and we engaged in conversation with the very friendly owner ( I am sorry, I can’t remember his name) and I can recommend this place (but take some ear plugs!).
We left Staithes at the usual time of 9:30am. It was raining so we togged up in all the gear, trousers and all. How I hate wearing trousers – shorts are the thing for walking but, in prolonged rain, the water runs down my legs and into my boots, so I must suffer the trousers today.
The first hour or so was spent climbing the muddy path up the cliffs. We could hear the sea but not see it. The rain was as fierce now as when we left and my hopes of some views for Colin were fading fast. To make matters worse, we reached a pretty line of cottages at Port Mulgrave, and the book promised a ‘good view down to the tiny harbour and jetty’. We could see the grass underfoot – did that count?
As we walked along Rosedale Cliffs, we met a lady. She was a farmer, by the look of her, and she apologised profusely for the weather. I almost feigned enjoyment, as I felt guilty for her taking the rap – what about all the other people who lived around here? She explained how it really was nice and how we should come back and see. I vowed to do this. She then told us it would be better if we went now, because as soon as she rattled the plastic bucket she was holding, the cows would stampede toward her for their share of its contents. We hurried on, along what must (again) be one of the muddiest paths I have ever seen! The rain abated slightly, and misty views started to appear. The fields of rape to our right were getting more yellow by the day. It was as if they were trying to ‘out-yellow’ each other. Also, the gorse was making a good show and would have made a nice foreground for pictures – if only!
We reached Runswick bank top to be greeted by the smell of lunch from the hotel there. I must say it smelt divine, but we were still running on breakfast. We had decided that the harbour side breakfast was a ‘one o’clocker’. We started the descent down the one in four hill to the pretty Runswick Bay. The only thing on our minds though, was that there MUST be a one in four out of the other side! Again, from previous visits (I knew this part of the east coast quite well) I could tell Colin what he was missing. Runswick is almost as pretty, if not as compact, as Robin Hoods Bay. Bemoaning the weather and lack of views still, we dropped on to the beach and walked along it. The erosion here is ongoing all the time, and at an alarming rate too. If you take a stroll along the beach, keep away from the cliff as lumps of earth drop off at regular intervals – some quite large! There are some big cave-like holes in the cliff face called ‘Hob Holes’, a place where people thought whooping cough could be cured – probably by death from a big lump of Runswick falling on you! We had a third member of our crew, as we were joined by a friendly black Labrador dog. He was happy to have a pat and pad along at the side of us (probably hoping for us to stop for lunch). The rain stopped altogether now, and views back started to appear, so Colin got to see it after all. He agreed it was a nice place and we carried on. This beach at Runswick is impassable at high tide, and the instructions tell you that, if the tide is in, you must just wait. There is no alternative. It reminded me of when I walked the Pembrokeshire coastal path in 1993. I walked SEVEN MILES around a Gann (inland waterway) only to find, when I reached the other side, that the tide had receded enough for me to walk across it (there was a line of stones for this very purpose).
When we reached the other side of the beach, the instructions warned that the stones we had to walk up could be ‘slippery when damp’. What a laugh – today they were under water from the overnight rain, and the little beck was a raging torrent. We had a few laughs trying to cross it. Our Labrador friend had no trouble, and looked back across the beck at these wimps who were like giggling schoolgirls in their efforts to ford it.
Ford it we did, and made our way up the steep path (I knew it!) and back up to the cliff top.
Things really started to brighten up and I had high hopes for the afternoon, but in reality I was being rather optimistic. It remained overcast and spitting with rain. At Deepgrove Wyke we followed the line of an old disused rail track. Below us we could see the spoil from the Alum mining operations. It never ceases to amaze me though, how nature will try to brighten such places, and here we saw an abundance of wild Primroses. The bank sides were bursting with them. These are supposedly quite a rare, protected flower but here they were in such numbers the air was filled with their fragrance. The gorse too, was bursting with flowers, and I realised what their perfume reminded me of. It was a cross somewhere between coconut and Garlic – a very unusual bouquet!
We stopped on the cliffs above Sandsend. We decided on a light bite to eat, and I changed my socks as the incessant rain had got through my cheap boots and my feet were very wet. By now it had at last stopped, and we were able to remove our wet coats. They dry readily in this warm, breezy weather. We had already been walking for about three and a half hours, and we had about ten miles to go from Sandsend. Our spirits lifted with the improving weather (not that we were downhearted) and we bounced into Sandsend to ‘check it out’. We can recommend the village store, with such a diverse selection of stock you would think you were in Sainsbury’s, not Sandsend. I kid you not – everything from bread to pickled walnuts! Although we had already had a bite to eat, we raided their delicatessen counter for goodies, and sat on the sea front to consume them. There were not many souls willing to brave the unsettled weather today, but a few dog owners were out exercising their animals.
A smelly (exhaust fumes) walk followed from Sandsend to Whitby golf club, where we turned away from the road and back to the coast. We made our way along the west cliffs, in increasingly improving weather, to the outskirts of the famous port.
What an act of God, to give us fine weather just now. I had hoped for this, as I wanted to show Colin around Whitby, one of my favourite places. We passed through the arch of Whalebones at the top of the cliffs (I wish I had a pound for every soul that had done the same before me) and we descended the steps to the dockside.
As usual, Whitby was hustling and bustling and there was a queue of would-be diners outside the ‘Magpie Café’. This place had been feted by a prominent T.V. chef, and had been basking in the glory ever since. I have yet to see it where you can just walk into the place and eat right away!
Although full of visitors, Whitby still somehow manages to retain the air of a working harbour, with a nice mix of trinket shops and fishing boats. I took several pictures in Sepia mode as a sort of tribute to Sutcliffe, a famous photographer who has a gallery here dedicated specially to his work.
We crossed the swing bridge and made our way through the streets of the old quarter. I took Colin round to see the kipper-smoking house, Fortunes. This was another place that had enjoyed the caress of T.V. stardom. Mind you, the richly deserved it, their kippers and other stuff they smoke are the finest I have ever tasted. I also showed Colin the walls of the smoke house. They are CAKED in a fatty substance, the residue of years of smoking which is NEVER removed, but sometimes falls off in great chunks!
We left Whitby by the steps up to the old abbey (dating from 1370) at 3:30pm. The pallbearers used to ascend these steps with their load, and there are seats all the way up where they would rest on the arduous climb.
At the top, we turned to admire the view, and as if to say; “That’s your lot”, the rain started to fall gently and so we reluctantly put our coats back on.
The cliff path took us by Saltwick bay, where the unfortunate remains of a wreck can be seen on the rocks below. The cliff path here is again very eroded and great portions of it have disappeared into the foam. This was a popular walk, and the amount of mud was testament to this popularity. By the time we got to Maw Wyke Hole, we had had enough of it and, at about four o’clock, swung inland to join the old rail bed, which I knew led to Robin Hoods Bay. After the rain had started, I again cursed it, as I also knew that this was another of the great viewpoints on this walk. However, to my great surprise and satisfaction, the weather cleared dramatically, and the camera was employed to record it. The blue sky was startling, and the white of ships offshore was a very pleasing contrast indeed! We soon were overheating in the remarkably strong sunshine, but we weren’t complaining, this was a great end to the day. We walked into Robin Hood’s Bay, with aching feet but in glorious sunshine, at 6:10pm.
I don’t know if there’s a bit of Lemming in Colin and I, but we decided to ‘pop down’ to the bottom of the bay to see if a friend, Keith of; 'Cromwell’s Walking Plaques' was at home. We descended the very, VERY steep hill down (if you ever go – you’ll see what I mean) but he wasn’t in. We had a walk on the beach but noticed a big black cloud heading our way, so we quickly scaled the hill back up and made for our B&B, which was a mere extra mile or so further on in the village on Fylingthorpe. On the way, we noticed a wood, just opposite the church, was full of open bluebells – the most we’d seen thus far.
We were welcomed into ‘Saxonvilla’ by Pauline, with whom I had stayed before, so I knew we were on solid ground tonight. Saxonvilla is one of a line of houses built by the old sea captains. The view from the back windows is across the fields to Ravenscar, which we would be passing through tomorrow. But for now, Pauline made us very comfortable in the HUGE room, and we made a well-earned cuppa.
We freshened up and made ready for the walk BACK into Robin Hood’s Bay. I am partial to the food and beer there, especially the Dolphin, but it has to be said that the standard and portions are slipping of late. The chef who used to work there has moved, but only as far as the Fylingdales Inn, which is just along the road a few hundred yards from ‘Saxonvilla’. If you were not bothered about the walk to the Bay, then I recommend the Fylingthorpe Inn.
We wanted to see a band that was playing at the top of the bay; also Pauline was helping out behind the bar in one of the hotels (as if she didn’t work hard enough already).
Although tired, we had a very good night, tormenting Pauline and listening to the band. When we returned to Saxonvilla, we had the most comfortable night so far, and we both slept like babies.
Day Seven – Fylingthorpe to Scarborough 13 miles.
The morning dawned resplendent! I drew back the curtains to be blinded by strong shafts of Sunlight. I opened the window and took in some morning air, also the birds were ‘giving it some’ – WHAT a day!
Our intention was to walk down into Robin Hoods Bay (again!) to see if we could catch Keith Cromwell (the ‘plaque man’) (that makes him sound like a dentist! ).
Pauline treated us to one of her wonderful breakfasts, I don’t know where she gets her bacon, but it’s the best I have ever tasted. The rest of the food is good too. You MUST go and visit her for a bit of pampering – tell her I sent you. (I might get a bit of discount next time I go then). (NB, since this diary was written, Pauline has sadly died)
We packed the cases for the ‘bag man’ and left them with Pauline. Usually they were really on the ball and picked them up at around 8:30, but today there was no sign of them – strange? Just in case, we gave Pauline the telephone number to ring them if they ‘forgot’ us.
The walk down to the Bay was really something. This is the best time to see things, either now or late in the evening. The light, as any photographer will tell you, has a special quality about it. We took lots of pictures of the pretty village, with its’ red roofs and steep situation. This is a picture of a very old and dilapidated paper shop. Ity was run by some people who matched the building very well - two strange old hags were always outside. They too must have since died, as the building has FINALLY been sold and renovated.
We then went to the sea and took some pictures from there. We could see Ravenscar, our first port of call on today’s section of the walk. It looks majestic, perched as it is on the cliffs. There were plans to build a holiday village here, a bit like Milton Keynes (instant and purpose built) but it all fell through. Ravenscar gained the name of ‘The Town That Never Was’ because of this. You can still see the markings of where the streets were going to be though, if you look.
Keith was again not home, so we started back up the hill (again!). Halfway up, who should we se coming down but Keith and Jean! We were invited back down, but I saw the look that Colin shot me and quickly realised that I would have a mutiny on my hands if I asked him to go down and come back up again. Besides, it was getting late – 10:40 – so we really wanted to get going.
I promised Keith I would call in when I was next there and said goodbye to him and Jean.
After yesterday, we had decided to take the railway path to Ravenscar. I suppose it should have rung alarms when I saw at the beginning of the path in Fylingthorpe that there was work going on, and we had to take a small diversion. As we passed Saxonvilla (again!) we saw Pauline who informed us that the bags were STILL there, but she had rung the Sherpa service and they had assured her that they would be picked up. I wasn’t worried, because Pauline is the sort of person that, if they hadn’t, she would have taken them to Scarborough for us.
I had told Colin that this railway path was a nice flat, if slightly uphill, walk. What I DIDN’T know was that, because of work on it, there was a diversion and we had to negotiate a road that was just like the one up from the bay – only LONGER! Also, the Sun was really strong now, so we were wilting fast. After the road walk we decided to sort ourselves a route out back to the railway, and this we did. It was quite pleasant walking through the fields but, even though the day was scorching hot, our legs were constantly flecked with mud and cool water as the ground was still saturated from the past few days rain. All around the hedgerows and flowers of the field were taking full advantage of the lovely day, and I SWEAR I could see the things growing before my eyes!
We re-joined the rail track and were rewarded with stunning views back to Robin Hoods Bay and the coastline. The screaming yellow of the gorse made a really good foreground for the pictures I took. Although we had taken a late start, we were not hurrying as days like today were not ten-a-penny and we wanted to take full advantage.
There are seats strategically placed along the track, and we took advantage of a couple of those too! Another phenomenon we could witness from our lofty position was that the rains over the last few days had sent torrents of mud into the sea, and from here we could see a huge brown slick where the sea was stained with the ingress of mud. It was like one of those Nile Delta aerial pictures you see in the National Geographic magazine.
We continued along the track with the birds competing for ‘best song of the day’. Clouds were now gathering, but we had already got the morning in our pockets, so we were happy for whatever the day wanted to throw at us now.
As we approached Ravenscar, the path rose a little steeper. The views out to see were restricted now, as more vegetation was growing at the trackside and cut off our sight of the coastline. We passed through Ravenscar after a short break at the visitors’ centre, where a very pleasant lady engaged us in conversation and tried to tempt me into an ice-lolly, a temptation I managed to resist.
Just beyond Ravenscar we re-joined the coastal path. Far ahead we could see the outline of Scarborough castle. It looked absolutely miles away, but past experience told me that we would be there before we knew it. We also saw what we surmise to be Filey Brigg – the end of our journey.
For now though, we were here, and the warm day led us to collapse for ‘elevenses’ (it was now 2:00pm) on the grass at our feet. Supplies were low and I ate a strange mish-mash of chocolate, fruit and flapjack, washed down with ‘Adam’s Ale’ (water).
As we sat, we observed people in front of us dropping down a steep path into a gash in the coast. This was Hayburn Wyke, a nature reserve. We both had a peep through the binoculars from our lazy vantage point, and followed with our eyes the path we would follow with our feet in a short while.
We ‘sacked up’ and set off towards Hayburn. When we got there I was astounded by its simple beauty. There were several waterfalls, culminating in a large one onto the beach. No wonder there were so many people here – the most we had seen in one place for days. It was a little jewel. We could not walk past without stopping for a while to admire it and take pictures.
The walk resumed up a long series of muddy wooden steps to the cliff tops again. We then ambled along, past lots more evidence of Potash mining and landslips.
We reached and walked up the steep steps at Hundale Point and on to the Wyke. There is a natural rock scar in the cliff face known as Hundale Scar, and it stops you dead in your tracks. The sea has met a very hard opponent here, but it has knocked a few lumps out of him over the years. The resultant face is really strange to behold (see pictures) and we were both impressed by it. There were huge boulders that had just fallen into the sea as they had become detached. They looked big from where we were up on the cliff, so if you were standing right beside them, they must be gargantuan! It is so strange how this ‘fault’ appears here and only here – all this coastline and this only happens (as far as I am aware) right here. Nature is strange, isn’t it?
We carried on along the cliff tops, past a place called – wait for it – ‘cliff top’ and another one called, mysteriously, ‘sailors grave’. No mention of this or the reason why it got its name is given in the guide.
We reached Scaleby, which is really the outskirts of Scarborough, at 4:30. We first went wrong and started to walk up the North bank of Scaleby Beck, but Colin soon realised our mistake and we set off back to cross the beck by a footbridge. From here we got a sweeping view of Scarborough’s North Bay. I have been to Scarborough several times in the past, but never ventured North of the castle for some reason. It’s not a place that I like very much – it’s too commercialised and 'old' for me, but it is very popular all the same, so each to his own, I say.
We walked into Scarborough at 5:00pm, roughly as expected. It was quite a shock to the system to walk into a crowded, smelly (exhaust fumes) place after being used to the fresh cliff tops. I always feel out of place in places like this. Everyone with their kids holding chips or candyfloss, and me with dirty legs and a rucksack on my back. It’s like wearing a swimming costume as you walk down a high street – have you ever done that? Even if it’s summer, it feels strange. The high street is not a place for bathers!
We asked directions and were pointed – up a hill (sigh). After stopping for some provisions in a little shop, we plodded up the hill towards our B&B. We were going to have two nights in Scarborough so I hope we have got a nice place.
As we walked along the road, we couldn’t help noticing that the hotels/B&B’s were all as tall as they could be, with most of them having five stories, the top one usually a loft conversion. Scarborough was a ‘pack ‘em in and pile ‘em high’ place. I looked up and thought how ironic it would be if we were to be put on the top floor;
“Hello, you must be Mr and Mr Singleton – follow me, I’ve put you on the top floor”.
My God – five flights of stairs to our room – just what we needed! The shower was one floor down, and the loo was two. The landlady and landlord were very friendly people, and the room was comfortable. We couldn’t complain really, but those stairs!!!! I must have climbed them twenty times during our stay. I thought about buying a little plaque for the door of our room, naming it ‘mountain pass’.
Anyway, on advice from our host, we decided to visit the pub across the road, which was under new management. We had noticed the enticing words on the windows in garish colours announcing; ‘TWO CAN EAT FOR SIX POUNDS’. Well, the mixed grill sounded very good, so, washed and cleaned, we sallied forth.
We ordered two pints of beer, and looked around to select our seat for the feast. Should we go in the corner, take a window seat, mingle with the locals??? We needn’t have bothered – the food was off – all of it! The reason? We were told it was because there weren’t enough people in. But surely, we mused, people wouldn’t COME in at this time if there was no food? Apparently they stopped serving food at 7:45pm anyway. VERY strange. Well, as he hadn’t informed us until we had ordered and paid for our beer, we had no choice but to drink up and find somewhere else. This was no way to build up your business, I thought.
We found somewhere else, a Tapas bar. We had originally wanted to go Chinese, but were lured in here by the simple fact that we had never tried Tapas before. What were they (or was it)? The Greek (or whatever) man behind the counter explained and, non the wiser due to not understanding a word he said, but taken by his obvious enthusiasm and love of what he was cooking, went inside to ‘give it a go’. They also had a sign that said; ‘bring your own wine – no corkage fee’. As there was a wine shop next door, I went to get our alcoholic accompaniment for the meal.
When I returned, Colin had ordered the ‘special’, which was 18 Tapas for £10. I have to say that, accompanied by another bottle of wine; this was the finest culinary soirée that we had encountered on the whole walk. We ate EVERYTHING and thoroughly enjoyed it all.
Another trip up ‘Mount Roslen’ saw us into our comfy beds to dream of the final day of the Cleveland way, but not the final day of OUR walk, as we had planned to add 50 mles on to get back to the car at helmsley.
Day Eight – Scarborough to Filey 11 ¼ miles.
(Yawn) Excitement filled the air as we did our morning exercises; UP (ONE TWO) DOWN (ONE TWO) – then the other eyelid! We performed our ablutions and descended from our eyrie to the breakfast room. I had a bit of a ‘special’ breakfast (with TWO sausages – I think I was being mothered again) before packing up our sacks for the last days’ walking.
We were drawn to the site of where the Holbeck hotel had ‘slipped’ into the sea a few months previous. The slip happened as the guests were having breakfast. There was nearly one million tonnes of earth displaced in the slip. I had imagined that it had dropped off a cliff as the cliff was eroded, but the truth was that it looked like a landslide, and was more akin to a ship being launched that an hotel falling off a cliff! Anyway, I took the obligatory picture of the slope, now landscaped to hide what had happened and strengthened to prevent a recurrence.
We continued on in the brightening morning. The forecast is for fine weather for the rest of the walk, so this heartened us.
We reached our first unwelcome detour of the day. Someone had broken off the footpath sign, and we simply followed the path, which led downhill. We soon realised that we should have gone on along the cliff path, but these things happen, so we re-traced our steps and continued.
The rest of the walk was along cliff tops, in good weather and humour. I relalise this is an ignominious way to finish this diary, but the very last section seems to have been lost somehow???? Oh well, I KNOW we finished on Filey brig in the sunshine, then walked back to Scarborough. The following day, we set of back to helmsley, via the three-day 'Tabular Hills' walk.
In all, a really good walk, which I enjoyed a lot. I think my love of the sea helped, and my previous knowledge of the area. A walk of contrasts, I'd say it's a good walk for anyone to do.