Saltburn-By-The-Sea To Runswick Bay Yorkshire
It’s Monday 23rd April 18 (St Georges day) and I am heading up to Saltburn-By-The-Sea with David Evans to walk the coastline along the Cleveland Way to Filey. Originally I was going to walk the north Devon coast, but an invitation from two senior statesman of the Wrong Roaders Steve Read & Robert Delahay persuaded me to alter my plans and head north. Steve and Bob had booked up to walk the coastal section of the Cleveland Way making a change from their normal trips up to the wilds of Scotland. Now, one of my own self imposed rules meant that I must walk the coast clockwise, but their trip was walking anti-clockwise. So the solution was for both parties to meet halfway at Robin Hood’s Bay for an evening out and a general chit chat. So having travelled up together to York we said our goodbyes and headed off for our connection to Saltburn.
Saltburn has maintained much of its original charm as a Victorian seaside resort including its pier, the colourful Italian Gardens and walks through Riftswood. Saltburn has the oldest water balanced cliff tramway in Britain that is still in operation, linking the town with the pier 120 feet below, sadly this was covered in scaffold, so no photo has been included. Unfortunately things covered in scaffold is the curse of winter walking due to maintenance needing to be carried out during the off season. Anyway you can park at sea level where the old fishing village straddles Skelton Beck. The Ship Inn remains as a focal point, steeped in smuggling folklore and the Cleveland Way passes through along the coastline, following a steep path up to Huntcliff, once the site of a Roman Signal Station. It’s a pleasant clean town and definitely worth a visit.
Saltburn pier opened in May 1869, with a steamer landing stage at the head of the pier and two circular kiosks at the entrance. The first steamers left the pier on 14 May 1870, with service to Middlesbrough. In the first six months of operation, there were 50,000 toll-paying visitors. It was built by John Anderson the engineer for the Stockton and Darlington Railway, who saw investment opportunities in the new town. Anderson followed the new pier format developed by Eugenius Birch in his groundbreaking design for Margate Pier, by specifying iron screw-piles to support a metal frame and wooden deck. Originally 1,500 feet (460 m) the pier suffered a catastrophe on the night of 21/22 October 1875, when a gale struck the pier, removing 300 feet (91 m) of the structure at the seaward end, including the pier head, landing stage and part of the pier deck. This left just 1,200 feet (366 m), however after gales in 1953, 1971 and 1973 the pier continued to lose piles to the sea and today only 681 feet (208 m) remain.
In 2000, the Council was successful in gaining a £1.2M National Lottery Heritage Grant, enabling the cast iron trestles that support the pier to be conserved and the steel deck beams replaced with traditional hardwood timber to reflect the pier’s original appearance. Reopened as a Grade ll listed building on 13 July 2001, by MP Chris Smith, the restored structure won a top placing in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Heritage awards. In October 2005, the pier was greatly enhanced by the installation of under deck lighting which illuminates at night and in 2009, the National Piers Society awarded it pier of the year.
Saltburn Mortuary was built in 1881 and is one of only a few remaining Victorian mortuaries. It was constructed for the sole purpose of providing a suitable temporary resting place for the poor souls whose mortal remains had washed up on the beach here at Saltburn. Bodies being washed up on the beach below Hunt Cliff was a regular occurrence and storing them in the Ship Inn while waiting postmortem prompted the need for this mortuary. Originally it was one of three buildings, the other two housing the lifeboat and the rocket brigade house which were demolished due to a road widening scheme. It was last used in 1970.
The coastal section of the Cleveland Way truly starts after the climb up Huntcliff at the back of the Ship Inn. Huntcliff reserve forms part of the cliffs at Saltburn, with Huntcliff being among the highest cliffs on the East Coast of England.
At Huntcliff you will find the Huntcliff Circle, one of three sculptures by Richard Farrington placed on the cliff. Resembling a large charm bracelet and being hollow inside they all have an individual tone when knocked lightly into each other. I can imagine during a strong wind with poor visibility they would sound like the bell of an old ghostly sailing ship at sea. Now a beloved landmark locals and visitors alike flock to see it.
Nearing Skinningrove on the cliff top you can see Skinningroves industrial jetty at Cattersty Sands built in 1880 to allow cargo mainly iron to be shipped from the area.
Skinningroves claim to fame was that it supplied steel to build Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia, which was designed and built by British firm Dorman Long and Co Ltd. At Skinningrove the steel was rolled, bent, formed, drilled and shaped ready to be shipped there and to be put together like a giant Meccano set. The bridge was completed and opened in 1932.
Voted in the top 40 best beaches in the Country, Cattersty Sands with its huge sand dunes is a gem. This charming bay in Skinningrove is the perfect place for a relaxing afternoon stroll.
Having already mentioned Skinningrove Jetties industrial past, I was interested as a keen fisherman to read that on the 17th February 2003, a rarely seen Oarfish was caught by Angler Val Fletcher, using a fishing rod baited with squid. The fish was 11 ft 4 in (3.3 m) long and weighed 140 lb (63.5 kg). Graham Hill, the science officer at The Deep, an aquarium in Hull, said that he had never heard of another oarfish being caught off the coast of Britain. The Natural History Museum in London said that it would have been interested in preserving the fish in its permanent collection; however the fish had been ‘cut up into steaks’ before any scientists could examine it.
From the end of Skinningrove Jetty you can see the small coastal village of Skinningrove. Skinningrove’s name is of Viking influence and is thought to mean skinners’ grove or pit.
Dave following along on the small footpath at Hummersea.
Industrial remains of ”Snilah ponds” believed to have been the settling ponds for the Hummersea Alum works opened in c1800. This site was also known as Lofthouse, and Lingberry Alum Works. The Loftus Works were one of the most successful on this site and had a long life from 1655 to 1863. Sadly for us the Alum house remains are in the cliff face below and not visible from the path. The buildings would originally have been located on a platform, to avoid the tides. Now the structures have been engulfed by a landslip from the cliff above, hence only fragmentary remains remain today.
Dave overcoming his fear of heights! Although quite safe, he is seen here skirting the outer edge of an old alum quarry at Hummersea. All credit to him at 72 years of age he is stepping outside of his comfort zone and I salute him for it.
Alum shale left over from the Loftus works has created a kind of lunar landscape at the edge of the sea cliffs between Hummersea and Boulby.
At Boulby nearing Staithes this sign on the kissing gate reminds us that this section of the Cleveland Way is part of the England Coast Path, a proposed long-distance National Trail which will follow the coastline of England, when complete it will be 2,795 miles (4,500 kilometres) in length. At the border with Wales it will link to the Wales Coast Path which was fully opened on 5 May 2012, and comprises an 870-mile (1,400 km) coastal walking route.
Our first view of the coastal village at Staithes.
Just before Staithes the coastal erosion is very evident with much of the current path falling away.
On arrival at Staithes I am spellbound by its beauty, it is a very attractive North Yorkshire fishing village with bags of charm. Nestled between the high sea cliffs of Cowbar Nab and Penny Nab on either side and with two breakwaters. With its higgledy-piggledy cottages and winding streets, Staithes has the air of a place lost in time. The name Staithes derives from the Viking word meaning ‘Landing-Place and once had one of the largest fishing fleets in the area with around 80 boats operating from its shores. Still today there are traditional yorkshire cobles which fish in the north sea. It also boasts a long history of having a lifeboat which is stationed below Cowbar Nab which was established in 1875. Staithes for a while was the home of a young James Cook who was a grocers apprentice here. It is thought that his experience of living by the sea led him to join the Navy at Whitby, before becoming one of the most famous explorers and navigators in the world.
William Sanderson’s shop, where Cook worked, was destroyed by the sea, but parts were recovered and incorporated into “Captain Cook’s Cottage” this aptly named house within Staithes.
Here the rocks are mostly sedimentary shales, mudstones and sandstones. These sediments were deposited in seas and river deltas between 200 and 150 million years ago during the Jurassic Period. Then, around 70 million years ago, earth movements pushed these layers of rock upwards to form a rounded dome shape. The top of the dome has gradually been worn away by erosion leaving a rocky platform exposed. At low tide a pattern of long, curved ridges and troughs (scars) are visible. These are all that remain of the layers of rock that were pushed up into the dome shape. The scars reflect the different rates of erosion of different shale’s and the structure of the dome. From this photograph you can clearly see the pattern of the scars a common feature of this section of the foreshore at low tide.
Dave above Old Nab.
Finally we arrive at our destination Runswick Bay claimed to be one of the most beautiful bays in England. However it is late and we will have to wait until the morning to see it. For now it’s a late shower and a search for an evening meal. 13.87 miles.