Cleveland Way – Kildale to Saltburn

So Peeps, We’re back at Kildale with every intention of walking to Saltburn. We’ll be meeting a slow worm that I think is a snake and a bit of interesting stuff about Saltburn. The route includes a visit to Captain Cook and a great view of Roseberry from the east whereas most road views are from the other points of the compass but usually include a westerly component.

We’ve done this route before but usually in two outings. It’s a bit of a haul to start with a 500-foot ascent in about a mile (160m in less than 2km). The day is beautiful with wall to wall blue skies and the odd fluffy cumulus to represent traditional summer.  The early part of the track is, in fact, a road. It winds its way up the rear of Captain Cook so to speak and approaches the monument from the east through Mill Bank Wood. I need a couple of stops on this one to catch my breath but regain some of my stamina as the track levels out and I find the final steps rather easier than the initial haul.

The monument to Captain Cook is not a statue, it’s a monolith and very impressive when you get close up and the views are quite spectacular. The easier approach is from the North and there is a car park at the bottom on Dykes Lane. I would encourage you to take a walk from here, you’ll not be disappointed and it’s not difficult.

We all know what we’re taught at school about Captain James Cook from Marton who sailed from Whitby and the plaque has the following inscription:

***In memory of the celebrated circumnavigator Captain James Cook F.R.S. A man of nautical knowledge inferior to none, in zeal prudence and energy, superior to most. Regardless of danger he opened an intercourse with the Friendly Isles and other parts of the Southern Hemisphere. He was born at Marton Oct. 27th 1728 and massacred at Owythee Feb. 14th 1779 to the inexpressible grief of his countrymen. While the art of navigation shall be cultivated among men, whilst the spirit of enterprise, commerce and philanthropy shall animate the sons of Britain, while it shall be deemed the honour of a Christian Nation to spread civilisation and the blessings of the Christian faith among pagan and savage tribes, so long will the name of Captain Cook stand out amongst the most celebrated and most admired benefactors of the human race.***

There may be island people of the southern hemisphere who have different views but his achievements are self-evident, not sure about beating the shit out of people that didn’t share his beliefs or the ‘inexpressible grief of his countrymen’ though.


Click on any image and you can page through them at full size…

Off we go again, this time down the path that you will ascend should you take my advice regarding the walk from the car park. Roseberry is in the distance in true Matterhorn profile and illustrates why it’s called the Yorkshire Matterhorn.

To our left is Ayton Banks Mines which has been disused since 1929 and quite badly flooded now but still sending out ore stained water from its drainage levels. After a long descent and swift ascent, we’re on Great Ayton Moor and follow the dry stone wall that guides us to the dog-leg right-angled corner with Roseberry on our left and the open moor which is our new direction on our right.

If you walk this route be careful at this point; the Cleveland Way is really well signposted and you will only need a map should you get lost but there are two or three places of slight ambiguity and this is one of them. The easy way to indicate the right route is to identify the wrong one so here goes. The wrong route is along the dry stone wall but it is very tempting, you need to take the track across the moor.

We traverse Newton Moor, Hutton Moor and Black Nab, Hutton Village is on our left and Guisborough beyond that. We also get our first view of the sea complete with windmills and estuary.

The track becomes Forestry Commission access road and clings to the ridge occasionally through woods and then with huge views towards Eston Nab, Eston Moor and Wilton Wood.

As we emerge from Guisborough Wood Louise shouts a warning to watch our feet and I look down to see what I think is a grass snake. It’s about 12 to 15 inches (300mm) long and when it sees us it freezes for a few seconds during which time we’re all trying to get photographs Louise identifies it as a slow worm and promptly tells us the difference between that and a smooth snake. She tells us that it really is a lizard without legs, has eye lids and sheds its skin. We’re just thrilled and excited at such a find. After a few more seconds it winds its way into the grass and clover disappearing almost immediately as its camouflage takes effect at the path edge.

We’re making our way through more woods towards the edge of Charltons when we see another slow worm; I’m 66 now and never seen one in my life, now I’ve seen two in 10 minutes.

It’s time for lunch so we select a lovely dappled glade with a handy pile of tree trunks set in such a way that they make ideal seats and we slip out of our boots to let our feet breath.

The glade is idyllic, it shades us from the sun which can be seen lighting up the dust and pollen in artistic rays that shine through the cover of leaves still growing stronger in the late spring. The branches, twigs and leaves kill the breeze to gentle wafts that induce beautiful smells of earth, ferns and garlic. It’s a great place to eat!

As we finish our lunch we readjust clothing and boots for the next ascent which is a bit of challenge around an old quarry just the other side of the road into Charltons. I stop several times on this stretch and I know that the others need a break too. It’s also an ideal opportunity to take in the surroundings and we all make a few photographs on the way up.

At the top, we walk adjacent to a cornfield but then we’re delighted by a ‘proper’ meadow of buttercups with ‘proper’ grass and clover just about to flower. This triggers memories of childhood, playing cowboys and Indians in the meadows around Castle Hills where I grew up. Between the first day and last days of our summer holidays, we’d be encouraged to be out. Being back for meals on time was a must and we all had the same bedtime so being back before the watershed, usually, 7 o’clock, was not negotiable and because it applied to all of us there was no reason not to be home. During the intervening times, we would run, walk, crawl and wriggle our way through the meadows like this one but the grass seemed to be much longer and in those days it probably was. The grass is cut sooner these days for silage, 50 or 60 years ago it was left for cutting as hay so it was left another month or so. If this is a child’s view looked at through mists of time then please put me right it’s just a memory now.

What I do remember was the fact that we rarely wore more than pants and baseball boots, that would be our uniform for the summer. If there was a cooler day then we might have a ’T’ shirt but I don’t remember much of that. If we weren’t playing cowboys and Indians it would be hide and seek or swinging over the beck on a rope (described in another post). Occasionally we’d borrow some potatoes from a farmer’s field, light a fire and roast them. I can almost taste the carbon of the burnt skin as I think these things as we climb a shallow ascent towards Airy Hill Lane leading to Skelton.

Walking through Skelton we meet Peter Appleton, Chairman of the Local History Society and he tells us a little bit about the area as we walk. Every time we walk this area we meet friendly folk who are enthusiastic to share their knowledge, help us on our way or give advice on the bus we need. East Cleveland People, you’re great.

On the final leg now and we enter the Valley Gardens of Saltburn. This is a great place in its own right. It’s rammed with trees of every type and you get to see some lovely waterfalls, a great bridge over the river and a majestic viaduct with eleven arches, now a listed building.

We’ve been under the viaduct many times on different walks and it still has the same impression; it’s magnificent.

We emerge from the Valley Gardens rather unexpectedly at the top and assume that the Cleveland Way is also meant to inject some money into the areas that it visits and the town centre would seem appropriate.

Saltburn-by-the-Sea is a Quaker town perhaps not founded by the Pease family but certainly developed by them. In 1856, the hamlet consisted of the Ship Inn and a row of houses, occupied by farmers and fishermen. As it was developed by the Quakers there was a reluctance to add public houses so the only way to access alcohol was via the hotels and private clubs. Believe it or not, the first new public house The Victoria was built was in 1982.

Apparently, the reason for developing this smugglers town in the first place was on the back of this vision…

“In 1858, while walking along the coast path towards Old Saltburn to visit his brother Joseph in Marske, Henry Pease saw a prophetic vision of a town arising on the cliff and the quiet, unfrequented and sheltered glen turned into a lovely garden.”

…yeah, so what did they say about public houses?

We arrive near the top of the lift and George Preston is there to take us back to Kildale for our vehicles. George is a star and has already supported us on the Clay Bank sector. Thanks George, your help is much appreciated. We do make sure he’s well ‘fish n chipped’ before we leave!

This sector is quite long and has its fair share of ‘ups’. George returns Peter and I to Kildale for our cars and I make a B-line for Scaling Dam and some wonderful friends of the Pilgrim who are putting us up for the night on their farm.

Barbara and Andy are lovely hosts and show us around the farm which has all the modern techniques interspersed with traditional methods, it’s fascinating. A couple of beers and wine later with excellent conversation, we’re then ‘lasagned’ with pasta and ready for bed and the new day.

A great but exhausting day.

Enjoy the snaps…G..x


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Cleveland Way – Saltburn to Port Mulgrave and Sandsend

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