Skinningrove to Staithes
So… the Governor is having his laughing gear sorted so we’re rudderless today.

I ‘phoned folks yesterday and organised a seamless transfer of personnel and support vehicles for our 9 km (6 mile) ramble along the cliffs from Skinningrove to Staithes. Hmmm, yeah, right!

The bonus for today is that Louise is accompanying us and will ensure that we’re all drinking enough, except Pete, he never drinks enough!
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The weather through the night has been a mixture of gales and rather less rain than expected. It’s quiet now and the blue skies are promising; however, the weather centre has issued yellow warnings for later in the day which means that we should be prepared for disruption. My thoughts are that we need to keep an eye on the direction as we’re walking a path only yards from the highest sea cliffs in England.
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There’s a bit of a hiccup at Skinningrove as I send the boys off to ensure we have a car at either end of the walk. They’re also picking Lou up. We walk from the car park at the Loftus end of Skinningrove and walk through the village. I’m a bit surprised when we find Lou already near the breakwater. I’ll not go into too much detail but it’s difficult to call someone back when they put their phone on silent 🙂
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If you’ve not been to Skinningrove of late please give it a look. It has a wonderful history. The name is thought to be Viking in origin and to mean skinners grove (or pit) then, in 1848 the opening of the ironstone workings started an industrial revolution that resulted in; a railway, iron smelting, a deepish jetty allowing heavy seagoing vessels and an interesting red river that flowed directly into the sea. All of this went on until the ’70s. Now, it’s a quiet little village with a general dealer, cafe and the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum that’s well worth a visit. Oh, and a lovely beach.
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It’s other claim to fame is that an 11 feet 4 inch (3.3 metres) oarfish was caught on a rod and line by Val Fletcher on 17th February 2002 (almost 15 years to the day of our walk). Just re-read those figures, that is a serious fish and the Natural History Museum of London expressed an interest in adding it to their permanent collection; sadly by the time the message got through it had been cut into steaks and was being deepfried ready for its final journey wrapped in newspaper and treated as a delicacy on the sea wall by a lucky local…
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By 10:30 we’re quorate and set off. Bri, our musical director and internationally acclaimed saxophonist, has already set off and has cleared the top of the first ascent and is making his way along the cliff tops. There’s a nod of admiration when we observe his progress.
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We begin the ascent and I would urge you to conduct it in stages and take the opportunity to look back at the views. The harbour and breakwater make a lovely view especially when the wind is blowing with the strength of today. I see the white foam being blown from the tops of the waves like an industrial production of washing up suds contrasting with the flat calm of the water on the lea side of the breakwater.
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The total climb is about 600 feet and we’re at about 300 feet looking down Hummersea Scar and an extremely agitated sea breaking across the rocks. The wind, which had been blowing off the sea and onto the land has now shifted rather dangerously to an extremely gusty offshore making us rather more careful of the cliff edge. The path is largely two or three metres from the edge and the majority of the cliffs are not shear so there is ample room to fall over without too much risk but it still adds a thrill to the walk.
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At Hummersea Bank we see Bri in the distance and he’s taken the sea route. This is slightly longer as there is a minor backtrack to re-join the Cleveland Way but with today’s wind it has the huge advantage of being sheltered and we follow it too.
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There is a defined line of sea that is completely still, whilst angry waves and foam are being whipped up either side and it’s only when I return and look at the detailed map that I realise that this is a cut in the rocks referred to as Old Gut. I would assume that it would be a good way in for smugglers avoiding the rocks but it would not have been advisable today.
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If you’re following this on OS Maps, you need to be turning in-land at The Warren, the path is quite clear but it will seem odd to be walking back the way you came.
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We take a short break and take in the views. There are cliffs behind us, what looks like huge mining subsidence with rocks strewn across the base to our right and yellow gorse in front of us, what a way to spend a morning with good friends!
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I double-check the map on my phone and we’re off again this time in the ‘wrong’ direction but only for 200 metres with a little bit of a climb until we reach the Cleveland Way where we turn in the appropriate direction with the sea now on our left.
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We’re still climbing but can see our objective with Rockcliffe Farm on our right and White Stones where land meets the sea on our left, this is not the highest point but it’s the one we can see.
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The sun makes another welcome appearance but the wind increases and the gusts are now so strong as to initiate a preemptive lean either backwards or sidewards into the blast and wherever there is space we take the inland path away from any of the cliff edges.
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We’re at our highest now to the east of the trig point above Boulby and start the welcome downwards path towards Staithes.
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We pass Redhouse Nab and Cowbar is clearly seen as the marker for Staithes which is hidden in its own little cut. The approach to Cowbar is over an open field then onto a tarmac lane that has a fence diagonally obstructing our way with a path clearly marked slightly inland. As we get closer it becomes obvious why and the abrupt loss of the old road gently collapsing in the sea through coastal erosion is almost sinister. The tarmac still hangs over the edge and new cracks are evident where new erosion is going to devour more of the coastline together with the road as the winter storms take their toll.
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I meet Barbara Pigot out with the dogs, it’s amazing who you bump into on these little outings and a visit is promised to catch up in the near future.
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The team is patiently waiting at a stone ‘thingy’ commemorating the lives of two people who presumably enjoyed what we are doing now. Lou points out the new water feature gushing out of the cliffs a little north of Bias Scar. They’re furiously pumping water from one of the leaking seams of the Boulby Potash mine. It’s not far from the top of the cliff so the fall is majestic and quite a site. To the east is a kind of barge that’s busy drilling holes and filling them in an attempt to stop the leak, it’s currently on legs so it sits little above the waves and looks slightly bizarre.
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At Cowbar we pass quite a few wild brassicas and I query it with Lou but we’re unsure about the origin although Lou believes there were allotments here They’re growing on banks and on the roadside, if you can clarify the reason for their existence in such quantity, it would be appreciated.
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Over the footbridge now and into Staithes. I’m expecting The Pilgrim to meet us here but getting a signal is proving challenging when a knight in shining armour appears driving a very acceptable BMW 6 series in black and asking if there is someone called George with a group of old men. Now, we may have an average age a little above the norm but ‘old’ – The Pilgrim has no shame!
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A brief conversation follows and our well-to-do messenger kindly takes a reciprocal communique back up the hill. A few minutes later we have an extra member, albeit social, but welcome nevertheless. It may be interesting to note that her age doesn’t affect the average age of the group.
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We’ve already checked out the Cod and Lobster but too full; then around the corner to the cafe but not enough tables so we retrace our steps to the Royal George where both team and social wing find a table.
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Good food and conversation are enjoyed all around.
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The walk is challenging in terms of ‘up’ but glorious views enjoyed almost all of the way. It’s about 6 miles if you include the little detours and the extension in Skinningrove. Enjoy the snaps…G..x
 

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