The Cleveland Way 1999

Author: George Tod

This walk is illustrated with photographs. Click on small photo to enlarge in situ, or click caption to enlarge into new window.
Part 4 - Whitby to Filey

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Day 6 - Friday 2nd July - 20.5 miles - B&B 14

Whitby to Scarborough via Robin Hood's Bay and Ravenscar

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Saltwick Nab near Whitby
Saltwick Nab near Whitby
Coast towards Scarborough from Long Nab
Towards Scarborough

I didn't have a very peaceful night's sleep, as the chap in the bunk above me was tossing and turning half of the night, but I did eventually manage to get to sleep. Breakfast was at 8 a.m. and I had very good service from the YHA staff again, as I was the only one for breakfast apart from the school party. Several others, who were staying at the hostel, were self-catering.

I walked down into town to get the film and a battery for my camera at 9 o'clock, when the shops opened and then returned to the hostel up the 200 steps to pick up my rucksack and set off at 9:20 a.m. It was a rather grey day with lots of cloud and was spotting with rain for the first couple of miles. This is also a very beautiful section of coast, but loses some of its splendour in dull conditions. I was feeling refreshed after my overnight rest, so was not put off by another walk of over twenty miles, especially as I had no deadline for arrival, having not booked dinner. After the first few miles, I came to Maw Wyke Hole, where the Coast to Coast walk rejoins the Cleveland Way, for its final three and a half miles into Robin Hood's Bay. I remember nearly being blown over by the north east wind when I was finishing the Coast to Coast walk in 1992, but this time there was hardly any movement of the air and the North Sea was like a mill pond.

By noon, I reached Robin Hood's Bay and was wondering whether to have some lunch, but decided to wait until Ravenscar instead. Unfortunately, Robin Hood's Bay has become rather too much of a tourist trap, which tends to detract from this quaint little fishing village, nestled around the very steep road down to the sea. On a fine weekend in summer, it is completely overrun with tourists, and even in this rather poor weather on a Friday, it was still quite busy.

I stopped for a rest on the cliffs just beyond Boggle Hole and finished off the few biscuits I had left with me. The dull conditions inhibited me from taking many photographs, as they tend not to do justice to the scenery in these conditions. On the ascent to Ravenscar, I had a sudden burst of energy and shot up the 120-metre climb at a very brisk pace, spurned on by the thought of some lunch. However, when I reached what I thought was a tearoom, it turned out to be a National Trust information centre. There was a tearoom sign-posted 600 metres down the road but, as I was heading along the path and not down the road, I didn't think I would go very near. I stopped for a short rest on a seat - the sun was starting to come out a little inland, but the coast was suffering from a sea fret, with mist rolling in from the sea. Just as I was thinking I had missed out on lunch, I turned round and saw the tea room, only about a hundred metres away, so I had a pot of tea for 80p and a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich for 2.25 to see me through to Scarborough.

I set off again at 2:20 p.m., along the cliffs, which should give some very fine views on a good day, but today they were partially engulfed in mist. The next few miles do not give very good views in any weather, as there is dense undergrowth between the path and the cliff edge. In the few places where it is possible to look down the cliffs, there is not a particularly interesting view, as this is a fairly straight few miles of the coastline.

At Hayburn Wyke, where Hayburn Beck joins the sea, I stopped for another rest and was shortly joined by a couple of chaps with camping gear I had passed about a mile back. They had walked from Whitby and were intending to camp at Hayburn Wyke for the night. As this is a Nature Reserve, owned by the National Trust, camping would not be allowed, although it did look like an ideal, sheltered spot. At the end of the day, no doubt, it would depend on whether anyone moved them on or not, as to whether they did stay for the night.

A little further on, over the next hill, Scarborough Castle came into sight, albeit as a ghostly outline in the distant haze. The coastline became much more interesting with views of a number of headlands on the way to Scarborough. Unfortunately, the more interesting scenery also gave rise to more ups and downs, with several steep descents and ascents. Fortunately, by now, I was used to carrying the weight of my rucksack and not finding any of this too difficult. The only problem was with the soles of my feet, which were aching, as they had done towards the end of the last day's walk. One of the problems with periods of brisk walking is that it gives the feet a lot more pounding than does a steady amble, but if there is a lot of mileage to cover it is necessary to get a move on for at least some of the time. The wisdom of taking a rest near the end of a long walk is somewhat doubtful. Much as it may be needed, the problem arises when trying to get started again. If the stop is for more than a few minutes, muscles seize up and all of the feeling returns to the soles of the feet. It then takes about ten minutes of rather stiff and painful walking to loosen up the muscles and for the feet again to become numb from much of the pain. Although the pain of soreness and blisters largely disappears, it still eventually gives rise to a feeling of nausea, just to show that the body hasn't forgotten about it altogether.

Scarborough Castle was now looming much nearer through the haze, but it still seemed to take a long time before I reached the seafront at Scalby, which is on the northern edge of the town and about a mile and a half from my hotel near the castle. I arrived at the hotel at 6:30 p.m. to a friendly greeting from the owner, who told me all the information I needed to know, including the location of a pub that he recommended for an evening meal, as was too late to eat in the hotel. It was a very nice place considering the modest price of 14 for bed and breakfast (17 with en-suite facilities).

The first requirement was to have a nice hot shower and a change of clothes, which made me feel a lot fresher, but I still wished that my feet belonged to somebody else, as they had taken another long day's pounding and were rather tender. However, a good night's rest should see them fit for the last leg of the walk of less than twelve miles.

I made my way slowly to the Scarborough Arms, as it was rather painful to walk any faster. There was a wide choice of food and I settled for a seafood platter, which came with coleslaw and salad as well as separate bowls of chips and vegetables - boiled potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, and peas - all freshly cooked. Normally, I would have found this rather too much, but after a long day's walk, I managed it along with a couple of pints of very good Marston's Pedigree, although I didn't have a dessert, after all of that.

Not far from the hotel, were seats overlooking the bay and the castle, so I sat for a while, watching a couple of jet skis speeding around the bay, then retired to bed and watched television for a while before having a well earned night's sleep.

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Day 7 - Saturday 3rd July - 12 miles

Scarborough to Filey Railway Station via Filey Brigg

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Ruins of Scarborough Castle in the mist
Scarborough Castle
Yons Nab and Cayton Bay
Yons Nab and Cayton Bay

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Crumbling Cliffs at Filey Brigg
Filey Brigg
Marker stone at Finish of Cleveland Way on Filey Brigg
Finish Marker on Filey Brigg

After a good English breakfast at 8:30 a.m., I was off at 9 a.m. It had rained quite heavily overnight, but was now just cloudy with more of the coastal mist that had plagued me the previous day. As I made my way past the castle and along the sea front, it started to look worse, and by the golf course it was spotting with rain with some very dark cloud overhead. Luckily, I escaped with just a few spots of rain and escaped the worst of the cloud by Cayton Bay. This section of the coast path is not very easy as it goes up and down quite frequently and was overgrown with wet grass in places. The far end of Cayton Bay provided a good viewpoint for a rest stop and drink of water. There was a very good view back along the coast to Osgodby Point and Scarborough, but it was marred by the poor weather. Scarborough Castle was, again, just a grey outline on a distant headland, and the normally golden sands of Cayton Bay were a dingy brown colour.

Without a map of this section, I was not sure of the exact distance, but thought that there was about five miles to go to the start of Filey Brigg. Much to the appreciation of my aching feet, the last few miles of the path improved considerably. It became more level, less overgrown and without the uneven surfaces of some of the previous few miles. Before long, Filey came into view over to the right, although the path continues along the coast and onto the Brigg, which also came into view. The official finishing stone is now just by the start of the Brigg, which I reached at 12:20 p.m., making the time for the whole walk 6 days and about 2 hours. I carried on walking to the end of the Brigg, as that is a more logical place to end the walk, although the scramble down to the beach over wet, crumbling earth was rather tricky.

The coast from Scarborough to Filey, again, offers some very good coastal scenery, with several headlands and inlets. The cliffs, however, are not as high as those further up the coast, and gradually decrease in height towards Filey Brigg. I noticed a number of orchids growing in a few places. They always seemed to be on patches of soil that had broken off from the cliff top and were in the process of sliding down to the sea. Why this should produce better conditions for orchids, I do not know, unless it is something to do with the disturbance to the soil, or a change in its moisture content.

After a short rest, I walked into Filey along the beach, where I watched a demonstration of the lifeboat being launched, accompanied by the 'Yorkshire Ridings Caledonian Pipes and Drums'. The lifeboat was towed out to sea by a specially adapted tractor, which had to drive so far into the sea, that it was almost submerged, before the lifeboat was able to float free of its trailer. From there on, it was up through the town to the railway station for the 15:15 train to Doncaster, after having some fish and chips and a celebratory couple of pints of beer.

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Thoughts at the End of the Walk

How did I feel at the end of this walk?

I was quite relieved to finish because my feet were killing me. The last two and a half days had been rather taxing, particularly on my feet, as I had been pressing on to cover a high mileage. Even on the final day, I had not taken it easy, as I wanted to get back home in reasonable time. The dreary weather over the last day and a half had not done anything to raise my spirits either. Apart from that, it has been a very enjoyable walk, with a good variety of scenery, from the gently sloping foothills at the start to the steep sided banks on the edges of the moors. This was followed by vast stretches of open moorland with distant views across the lowlands to the high northern Pennines, then the coast with its rugged sea cliffs and picturesque fishing villages clinging to steep sided valleys. Unlike some of the long walks I have done, it held very few surprises, as I had done most of it before in short stages. This is not always a disadvantage, though, as each part of the walk can be appreciated for what it is, without building up hopes and expectations that may not be fulfilled.

On any long distance walk in England, it is unusual to have continual good weather, and this walk was no exception. However, apart from the heavy rain on the first day, I had no more than a few showers for the rest of the way and it was warm enough to walk in shorts and tee shirt most of the way. I had a few days of very good weather in the middle of the walk, which brought out all the best in the scenery, both over the moors and down part of the coast. On balance, I had an average mixture of weather, so I couldn't complain. There is no doubt that the weather has one of the biggest influences on my enjoyment of a walk and the scenery it offers. For this reason, if a walk finishes in lovely weather, there is generally a feeling of sadness that the walk has ended whereas, if it ends in poor weather, I don't mind it finishing, as was the case with this walk.

The walk would obviously have been better without days with more than twenty miles, and particularly without having two of them in succession. Without adding an extra day to the walk, it was not very easy to plan it any other way and, at least, I did not have these long days near the beginning of the walk, which would have been worse. However, for anyone planning the walk with a little more time, I would recommend splitting these into shorter distances. Otherwise, the stops were very suitably placed, except for the lack of nearby pubs in the first half of the walk.

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