The Cleveland Way - Day Five (Kilburn to Skelton Green)
For much of our route along the Cleveland Way, the sharp peak of Roseberry Topping and the statuesque Cook's Monument have been visible as we have followed ridge lines and escarpments across the North York Moors.
The Cleveland Way starts in Helmsley and finishes in Filey and I am doing this 109-mile walk with my mum over the next few months. This fifth section of the walk from Kildale to Skelton enters Captain Cook Country, getting up close to the Cook Monument on Easby Moor and reaching Roseberry Topping on Newton Moor.
We started out at the little village of Kildale and began our climb out of the village, through a conifer plantation, passing Bankside Farm which is in a truly beautiful situation looking back over the valley.
Pretty soon after this we took a left turn and headed up a stony flagged path towards Easby Moor. My mum can be seen belting ahead as I held back for a photo opportunity. We are definitely getting used to these craggy, stone steps which have been a feature along the way.
As we reached the top of the steps, we were confronted with the 51ft Cook Monument which is far bigger in real life than it has seemed on the horizon up to now. On the side is an inscription dedicated to the famous explorer.
This famous landmark seemed as good a place as any to stop for lunch. It was an incredibly muggy, airless day which made it hard going on the steep climbs. From the monument you've got great views around and can see the next major landmark along this route - Roseberry Topping.
From here, it was a short walk along a stone path on Great Ayton Moor and along the side of a forested slope towards Roseberry Topping. You get glimpses of it along the way over the stone wall and fencing.
Climbing Roseberry Topping is an optional part of this route as it was with the Kilburn White Horse, the two spurs of the trail. As I'd climbed Roseberry Topping previously, we decided to continue along the route rather than do the up and down climb, so we turned and followed the path along Newton Moor away from Roseberry Topping.
After crossing Newton Moor and Hutton Moor and passing Highcliffe Farm, we were now in the last part of the moorland section of the Cleveland Way. We followed a stone path alongside an old quarry at Highcliffe Nab from where we had great views over the market town of Guisborough below.
From here we walked on the escarpment and along a path lined with bright yellow gorse bushes through Guisborough Forest, which was humming with insects and had a lovely aroma of pine which reminded me of being abroad.
After emerging from Guisborough Forest we continued along the route until we entered a more boggy wood following a footpath which leads to the tiny village of Slapewath. You have to cross the busy A171 moor road to Whitby to get there. We stopped at the friendly Fox and Hounds Pub in the village for a wonderfully refreshing ice cream and cup of tea.
We were going to stop here as this brought us to the 10-mile mark but having been revived by the ice cream and tea we decided to plough on for another couple of miles to Skelton. This section officially finishes at Saltburn but we were keen to stop before then so that on the next leg we'd have time to explore Saltburn - with perhaps a little time for a morning coffee.
So, onward. We passed through the little village of Skelton Green, meeting late afternoon dog walkers along the way, before heading through an arch to be greeted with a view over Skelton and the cliffs of Saltburn in the distance.
We could also just glimpse the sea from here and it was quite exciting to think that on our next leg of the trail our views would chance as we'd be following the coastal path south.
As we entered Skelton, we passed a lovely community orchard called Ringrose Orchard which has been landscaped and beautifully planted by a local group of volunteers.
In the orchard we came across a bust of explorer Frank Wild, Shackleton's second-in-command. It was Wild who stayed behind with 21 men on Elephant Island during the Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-16, while Shackleton and his crew of five made their rescue mission to South Georgia aboard a lifeboat. Frank Wild was born in Skelton, the son of a teacher and seamstress, and his statue now proudly surveys the town below.
This time we got a taxi back to Kildale to save our other halves from trekking across the moors to collect us. We are now almost at the half way point of the Cleveland Way, having walked up the western side of the North York Moors and across the Cleveland Hills at the top end.
We've done a fair bit of hiking across the rugged moorland so from now on it will be mostly cliff top walks, stopping at some of our favourite coastal resorts along the way. So, until then see you next time...