Saturday 4 August 2018

Cleveland Way, Day 7. Runswick Bay - Robin Hoods Bay

An early start today as we only had to drive the short distance from The excellent Postgate Inn at Egton Bridge.  We were soon on our way, again with beautiful weather in prospect.  We descended steeply down to the bay where the tide was in and then half way along the beach before climbing steeply up onto the cliffs with excellent views back to the village.  We quickly reached Kettleness, once the site of alum mining and production.  The beach is a scamble to get down to but is one of the best beaches, locally, for fossils.  The path skirts the bay and then follows the cliffs again before descending to the old railway line leading to Sandsend through the extensive remains of the Sandsend Alum Quarries.  The line was the route of the Whitby, Redcar and Middlesborough Union Railway line opened in 1883 and closed in 1958.  This stretch is one of my favourite walks and is one that we have done often.
Sandsend has a plethora of eateries and two of our favourites are The Wits End Cafe and the Sandside Cafe, both serving fine crab sandwiches when in season.  From the village we walked along the excellent beach to Whitby with the views of the Abbey perched above the old town getting ever closer.

 Whitby itself proved to be horrendously busy, only to be expected on an August Saturday.  Although we had to struggle through the crowds we still enjoyed views of the harbour, old town and abbey.  This is one of our favourite places to visit, often in winter, but certainly not in August.

 After climbing the 199 steps, dating from 1370, we reached Caedmon's Cross and the magnicent Abbey.  The first monastery was founded in 657 by Oswy the Anglo-Saxon king of Northumbria with the founding Abess being Lady Hilda from Hartlepool Abbey.  In 664 at the Synod of Whitby it was decided to adopt the Roman manner of calculating the date of Easter rather than the Celtic tradition.  Caedmon was a lay brother in the abbey during the 7th century.  Legend has it that he was originally ignorant of 'the art of song' but learned to compose one night in the course of a dream, according to the 8th century historian, Bede.  He later became a monk and an inspirational Christian poet.
Once beyond the abbey and on the cliff tops once more we realised that one of the reasons the town was so busy was that there was the annual steam rally in progress.  It looked interesting but we needed to push on as we still had several miles to cover.  On the way we passed the lighthouse which can now be rented out as a holiday cottage which sounds fun.  It also gave me the opportunity to photograph it to add to my portfolio of lighthouses.  The miles went by quickly and Robin Hood's Bay was soon reached to complete another great day's walking.

 Sadly the next day it was time to return home, but as usual we found it difficult to drag ourselves away.  We drove to Danby Moors centre for coffee and cake and then drove over the moors to stop and photograph the two Ralph crosses, Young and Old.  Old Ralph is the senior of the two but Young Ralf is used as the symbol for the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. I wanted photographs with the heather in bloom but this was not so easy this year as the blossom didn't seem as prolific as normal, perhaps because of the dry summer?

Friday 3 August 2018

Cleveland Way, Stage 6. Saltburn-by-the-Sea to Runswick Bay

I was excited to be walking this stage of the route as the first section to Staithes was a stretch of the Cleveland/North Yorkshire coast that I had never walked.  The journey went well.  We met up with Dorothy and Steve in the car park above Runswick Bay and then headed off to the start of the the day's walk at Saltburn, parking in the Cat Nab car park on the sea front.  Initially the weather was overcast but as the day went on the sky cleared and the sun came out with temperatures soaring.  An inspiring start took us up to Hunt Cliff and along a section of dramatic cliffs to the highest point on the east coast of England at Rock Cliff near Boulby.  Once we had climbed up and away from the beach we had fine views back to Saltburn and west along the coast towards Teeside.  The cliff edge path was unfenced alongside rolling farmland, golden with harvest crops.  Seabirds wheeling over the coastal cliffs now became a common site and the coastal views were wonderful.  We passed the site of a Roman signal station at Huntcliff with the railway line on one side of us.  This is now used solely as a mineral line serving the Boulby potash mine.  The remains of the Guibal Fan House was the first of much evidence of this coast's past industrial heritage.  The Fan was used to ventilate the mine, which was in use from 1872 to 1906.
Before too long we descended steeply to Cattersby Sands. Quiet and backed by interesting sand dunes, it is undiscovered by tourists.  At the southern end is Skinningrove Jetty built to service the local ironworks.  Having crossed the beck it was time to climb steeply once more up to Hummersea Cliff, again walking west - east.  Along this stretch we left Cleveland and re-entered the North Yorks Moors National Park,  Here again we came across evidence of the coat's industrial past with the remains of extensive alum workings.  These quarries operated for 200 years, the alum being essential in the textile industry as a fixative for dyes.  Alum was extracted from the quarried shales through a large scale and complicated process which took months to complete.  A part of the process involved the addition of human urine.  At the peak of production the industry required 200 tonnes of urine every year, equivalent to that produced by 1000 people.  Nice!!!  The demand was such that it was imported from London and Newcastle where buckets were left on street corners for collection - even nicer!!!  Rock Cliff is the highest cliff on the east coast of England at 203 metres (666 feet).  Eventually the present day Boulby Potash Mine came into view and we descended to the picturesque old fishing village of Staithes.  Boulby Mine has the distinction of being the deepest mining shaft in England at a depth of 1220 metres (4000 feet) and is a prime source of agricultural fertilizer. 
 With its higgleby-piggledy cottages and winding streets, Staithes has the air of a place lost in time.  Once one of the largest fishing ports on the North East Coast, this hamlet is now a wonderful place to explore.  As a ten year old (just a smattering of years ago) I remember the local women sitting outside their cottages wearing traditional dress and making lace.
Again it is a steep climb up from the harbour onto the cliffs above the village.  I was delighted to find that the path had been re-routed to give excellent views down over Staithes, a spot I must return to with different lighting.  The remainder of the day's walk took us along the cliffs with yet more dramatic coastal views to Runswick Bay and the car.  What an excellent day.