The Cleveland Way ~ Day Six (Skelton Green to Staithes)
We're back on the Cleveland Way and things start to get a little different scenery-wise from here as our route heads down the coast. I've been looking forward to this part of the trail, although I have to say that the walks across the moors will take some beating for their beauty and tranquility.
So we began this sixth leg of the 109-mile Cleveland Way at Skelton, roughly halfway along the trail. We wanted to spend some time in Saltburn by the Sea on this section. The walk from Skelton to Saltburn is a pleasant two-mile stroll along paths through deciduous woodland.
We passed a towering 11-arch brick railway viaduct that has been in use since 1872 and further along some rather ornate metal benches...
As we approached Saltburn, we spotted a sign for a Victorian tea garden which looked too good to miss. And after all the lovely cafés we've passed on our travels so far, we couldn't resist stopping off for tea and a teacake at the delightful Valley Gardens Tearooms.
After our refreshments we continued alongside the miniature railway track which took us to the seafront. The official Cleveland Way route takes you along a path a little higher than this but both end up at the seafront. The golden sands of Saltburn stretch for miles, north towards Hartlepool and Middlesbrough and South towards Staithes and Whitby.
Saltburn, which was once famous for its smugglers, is well worth a visit. I'd heard a lot about it recently so was keen to look around. After it became a popular Victorian spa resort, a hydraulic lift was built in 1884 so people didn't have to clamber up and down the steep slope between the beach and the town. The lift is currently closed due to a major refurbishment so it's Shanks's pony until it opens again later in the year.
There is also an impressive pier that juts out over the sands...apparently it's the most northerly surviving British pier and the only remaining pleasure pier on the north east coast.
There is certainly lots of refurbishment going on here at the moment and we noticed some very jolly new beach huts being erected on the promenade.
Saltburn town centre is certainly a gem. It was voted best place to live last year in the Sunday Times Best Places to Live list. It is populated with stylish cafés, art galleries and independent shops. So after a meander around the town, we thought we had better press on as we had a good few miles ahead of us and time was ticking by.
You leave Saltburn along a path behind the old smugglers' cottages and The Ship Inn. It's a pretty steep climb out of the town to get up onto the headland - we are getting used to these uphill hikes by now although I am not sure we are walking them any faster.
We were due for our lunch and were lucky enough to find a bench on Hunt Cliff to enjoy our sandwiches along with a blustery cliff top wind.
The path further along meets the railway line so for a while you have the cliffs on your left and the train tracks to your right.
We were just in time to spot a freight train passing on the route which serves the Boulby Potash Mine.
We came across this lovely ironwork sculpture a little further on at Warset Hill. It's a seven-foot diameter circle with ten sculpted images relating to the history of the area.
And we also spotted some wild orchids as we neared the path towards the beach...
We passed the little village of Skinningrove, a traditional fishing port and now a small village community. I wondered what all the many sheds were on a hill behind the village. My mum recognised that they were pigeon lofts, clearly a popular pastime here as we spotted a sculpture commemorating this outside the clubhouse of the pigeon homing society in the village centre.
It was another arduous climb out of Skinningrove, clambering up a flight of never-ending steep, stony steps until we reached the next cliff top. Hummersea Beach is below this grassy cliff which was covered with poppies and wild flowers.
From here, we passed through a farm and onto a gorse-covered slope and followed the path along Boulby Cliff, the highest sea cliff in England. There were fantastic views back along the Cleveland Way towards Guisborough Forest and the North York Moors.
We could also see across to the Loftus Alum Quarries. Along the route you can see slag heaps from the steelworks which has solidified and become almost part of the cliffs themselves. We also caught a welcome glimpse of our destination as Staithes came into view a little further along.
We passed through Boulby along a narrow road. You get a close up view here of the Boulby Potash Mine, the only potash mine in the country. The route has been moved inland slightly as the original path is in serious danger of sliding into the sea. The path takes you down to the pretty fishing village of Staithes. I can't imagine many seaside villages having a lovelier approach as this one into Staithes - and this view is one of my all time favourites.
We continued down the steep hill towards Cowbar, crossing the bridge into the village and admiring the little cobles, traditional wooden fishing boats, bobbing in the water.
We just had time to grab a crab sandwich from the Royal George pub before climbing up another steep hill to the top village of Staithes to catch our bus - or should I say, two buses as we managed to make a connection back to Skelton where we'd parked the car.
All in all, another wonderful walk, this time along the beautiful Yorkshire coastline with its views out to sea on one side, pretty vistas inland as well as magnificent views towards the cliffs further along the route.