208. Inverie to Inverie via Airor

Unfortunately, I knew as I went to bed the night before in the Bunkhouse, that I was not going to complete my objective in doing a circular walk out to the western shore of Knoydart and back to Inverie. I decided therefore to walk out to Airor and see how far I got after 2.5 hours of walking. I had been told by the locals that the river crossing at Inverguseran would probably not be on because of the amount of rain we had had.

In my planning I had looked at walking the northern shore of Knoydart. The only account of anyone doing so was from a young “Coaster” called Nat Severs who completed his walk around the UK coast back in 2010. Nat sustained a few injuries and falls while negotiating this section and I doubted my ability to complete such a section on much older legs. Surprisingly, on advice, Nat caught the ferry into Knoydart from Mallaig! I did think I could easily get as far as Croulin, but the river crossing put paid to that idea.

I set off from the bunkhouse at 6:20 in the morning along the tarmac road to Airor, a small hamlet on the western shore of Knoydart. I had decided not to simply try to get on the first ferry, but to go for the 11:00 one. The uncertainty on the ferry situation was still at the back of my mind. I pushed on at a fast pace, conscious that I would have to turn around at some point in time. I passed a section of the road where had been a large landslide, with work currently underway to stabilise the slope and nearby crags from rockfall. I noticed over my shoulder the 8:00 ferry returning to Mallaig, which spurred me on. I was much closer to Mallaig now and I could easily make out the buildings in the town. I had great views across and up the Sound of Sleat. However, as I dropped down into Airor I knew I needed to turn around.

I retraced my steps, back towards Inverie. About two miles from Inverie, a lovely lady called Sheila, (who owned the Post office), stopped and offered me a lift which I accepted. I held her little Jack Russell in lap as we drove back the short distance back to Inverie. Sheila was herself travelling to Mallaig for provisions and could not understand why the ferries would be cancelled. I popped into the Tea rooms and ordered a large mug of coffee and bacon/egg scone. I met the lady who first imported the information about the uncertainty re:the ferries, she was rather coy, but in all fairness she and others were just imparting what was written on the Western Isles website. I got on the 11:00 ferry.

Looking back it would have been nice to have completed a bit more of the west coast, but over the years I have done a fair amount of walking in Knoydart and doubt I go back again, there are many more challenges that still lie ahead.

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:



Heading out of Inverie
Landslide on the coastal road
Removing and securing loose rock
Looking back to Inverie
The impressive Roinne na Beinn
Looking across to Mallaig with the Armadale ferry just visible
Looking up the Sound of Sleat
The footpath down to the Doune Hotel

Distance today = 9 miles
Total distance = 3,708 miles



207. Kinloch Hourn to Inverie

It was a very windy and wet night which continued through to early morning. The original forecast had been for heavy rain throughout the day, but reading the Mountain Weather forecast, that Tony had printed out, it seemed that the rain and wind would ease later on. Both couples, also staying at the B&B,  intended to continue on along Loch Hourn, one couple heading to Inverie and  the other just to Barrisdale. We all had ate breakfast together and none  of us fancied venturing out into the pouring rain! I decided to make the first move and prepared myself for the off. As I stepped outdoors after bidding my farewells, the sun came out!!

I continued on  a short distance to the end of the public road with a footpath continuing on alongside Loch Hourn. Personally I had always thought the walk-in to Knoydart from Kinloch Hourn was a sort of Rite of Passage for all  serious hillwalkers, so I was really glad to be getting this particular monkey off my back! It was turning out to be a beautiful morning now with the sun out and great views up Loch Hourn to the snow-capped peak of Ladhar Bheinn. However, there was still an awful lot of surface water still about and all of the burns were in full and in spate. However,  I only encountered one particular crossing that required some thought, careful footwork and good balance. I also soon met the first people heading towards Kinloch Hourn, a young couple on the Cape Wrath Trail.

Car Park at Kinloch Hourn
End of the public road
Looking down Loch Horn with Ladhar Bheinn in the distance
A nice section of the path
Looking down Loch Hourn
Approaching Barrisdale Bay with fine views towards Ladhar Bheinn

It took me almost 3 hours to get to Barrisdale, although I was in no particular hurry. As I turned into Barrisdale Bay the full force of the wind hit me, which I had been sheltered from since leaving Kinloch Hourn. I passed the farm and bunkhouse in Barrisdale and stayed on the path that led to the Mam Barrisdale. Although this path climbed gradually it was still tough going up to the bealach at 450m. When I reached the top of the Mam Barrisdale I recalled when I last stood there, some 15 years ago when I climbed the Munro’s in this area. I dropped down the well constructed stalkers path which dropped down gently into Gleann Dubh Lochain. By the time I reached the loch the path had become a landrover track.

I followed the track towards the Brocket memorial, where Gleann Meadail joined the track from the left. As I approached Inverie the promised showers arrived. I got myself checked into the Foundation bunkhouse and then went in search of some beer to buy from the Community shop in Inverie. I wanted to get a couple of beers for ‘Becs’, the American student who had kindly given me  her last beer a few weeks back when I arrived late at the bunkhouse.

Back at the bunkhouse I spoke to some of the volunteers from the John Muir Trust who were currently clearing Rhododendron bushes and doing path maintenance. One of the ladies was trying to change her ferry to get on the first ferry the following day; it seems it had been reported on the Western Isles website that some of the later ferries would be cancelled due to high winds. This alarmed and confused me, as the weather forecast had winds subsiding the next day. This development threw me into turmoil and led to me not getting much sleep that night, trying to reorganise my plans for the following day.

Looking east down Glean Barrisdale towards Slat Bheinn
Looking back down to Barrisdale from the Mam Barrisdale path
At the Mam Barrisdale looking down to Gleann Dubh Lochain
Approaching the Brocket memorial near Inverie

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:


Distance today = 14 miles
Total distance = 3,699 miles




206. Glen Shiel to Kinloch Hourn

Knoydart was always going to be challenging and I had given a great deal of thought on how I would tackle the next three or four sections of my walk. On my previous walk I had already walked  into Inverie from Morar. As a mountain bagger I had already done a fair amount of walking in Knoydart, but as a coastal walker I now needed to try to do it some justice by including some of the its shoreline.

I could write many pages on the permutations I considered in attempting to complete  these sections, but I think it best just to give the general plan on the next three days of walking:-

1) Drive to Mallaig, park up and sleep in the car overnight

2) Following day walk from Glen Shiel to Kinloch Hourn

3) Following day walk from Kinloch Hourn to Inverie

4) Following day walk to West coast of Knoydart returning to Inverie to catch ferry back to Mallaig

I had planned not to carry a heavy sack this time, relying on B&B and bunk house accommodation. This meant I would just carrying a  spare change of clothes and a small amount of food provisions. I had also recently bought a pair of shoulder strap ‘wraps’ which fitted around my existing rucksack straps to give extra support and padding.

I caught the 6:03 train from Mallaig to Fort William which cost £8.60 with my Senior Railcard. It was quite light outside as now, so I was able to enjoy some of the scenery I had previously walked. I then had a couple of hours to wait in Fort William until  the 10:15 Inter-City Bus service  #916 bound for Uig, but I would be alighting in Glen Shiel. I headed to the nearby Morrison’s, whose cafe opened at 08:00 and where I could get a reasonable breakfast and pass the time.

I asked the bus driver if he could drop me off 3 miles up the road from Glen Shiel (my designated stop), on a long straight, with a large lay by. He  immediately became awkward by saying “which straight, there were many long straights”. He also added that he could not stop if there was Wind farm traffic. Quite what he meant I did not know, but it did not look good. Sure enough just as we left Fort William we got stuck behind a Stronelairg wind farm convoy. Fortunately the police escort allowed the queue to clear as we stopped at the Commando Memorial. As we approached the layby in Glen Shiel I alerted the driver to where I wanted off. He then mumbled something about getting done for blocking the road and that he could not stop if there was no space in the layby. There was one car behind us and the road was empty! I was really glad to be off the bus, what a miserable old git!!

It started to rain as I made my way up the stalkers path alongside the Allt Mhalagain. It was a route I had previously taken some 9 years before when climbing the Corbett ‘Twins’ of Sgurr a’Bhac Chaolais and Buidhe Bheinn. As I reached the upper Coirie I followed the Allt Coirie Toiteil to the Bealach an Toiteil. It was quite easy walking with a few snow slopes to negotiate around. By this time the sun had appeared and I had splendid views down Coire Reidh to Loch Hourn. To my right was the impressive and steep side of the Munro Sgurr na Sgine, which I climbed on a very wild and windy day with no views back in 2001.

Looking towards Faochag and the Allt Mhalagain from the A87 in Glen Shiel
Looking back down to Glen Shiel
The route ahead to the Bealach an Toiteil
The Bealach an Toiteil with Sgurr na Sgine now in sun
Looking back to Glen Shiel with the North Glen Shiel Ridge in the distance
The steep face of Sgurr na Sgine
Looking down into Coire Reidh towards Loch Hourn and heading to the small lochan in the distance

I began the descent into Coire Reidh and could see the ATV track I was heading for about a mile away. I had excellent views across to Knoydart and could see Ladhar Bhienn’s snow-covered peaks were cloud free. I left the ATV track after a short distance and then headed for the small lochan of Lochan Torr a’Choit where I crossed the Allt a’Choire Reidh by means of a well made bridge. I then decided that instead of simply following the well-made track directly to Kinloch Hourn I would continue some distance west towards Gleann Dubh Lochain. I did this because when I returned to the area on my next trip I would be able to do an out-and-back from Corran on the Arnisdale side. I walked on for about another mile, before marking and carefully noting the point on the track for future reference. I retraced my footsteps back to the bridge near Lochan Torr a’Choit. There was a plethora of tracks and paths here, all coming together to continue through a narrow pass, the Cadha Mor.

I descended very steeply down the other side of the pass into Kinloch Hourn.  The path entered a small plantation above Kinloch Hourn house. I was amazed to see that the majority of trees were Eucalyptus and big ones at that. As I passed a row of cottages a group of about 5 dogs came out barking. They were very friendly and just curious. I spoke to the Stalker about the trees, he said they were planted in 1890. Eucalyptus are lovely trees; I once planted two in my garden as tiny saplings; but they grew really fast and tall and I had to take them out after a couple of years.

I carried onto the public road and crossed the Lochourn River and then walked the short distance to Kinloch Hourn farm which was my B&B for the night.

The bridge across the Allt a’Choire Reidh looking back to the Bealach an Toiteil and Sgurr na Sgine
Looking down into Gleann Dubh Lochain and my turning point back to Kinloch Hourn
Heading towards the Cadha Mor, the hill in the distance is the Munro Sgurr Mhaoraich
Descending steeply into Kinloch Hourn
Large Eucalyptus trees at Kinloch Hourn
Kinloch Hourn farm B&B
View from my bedroom window


NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:


Distance today = 10 miles
Total distance = 3,685 miles


205. Morar to Inverie

I finally got two reasonable days in which I could continue my progress north up the West coast of Scotland. Mallaig marked the start of the more challenging part of my walk, with a series of lochs and high rough terrain taking you into remote parts with no B&B’s or buses. My destination would be Inverie on the Knoydart peninsular, which could be reached by ferry or the long walk-in. Although some “Coasters” opt for the ferry ride into Knoydart I had long since decided that I would walk in. In the past I had walked to the “fringes” of Knoydart in my Munro/Corbett Bagging days, but never all the way to Inverie. This meant I would have to back pack, carrying all that would be needed for an overnight stay. My plan was quite simple – Walk from Morar to Sourlies Bothy, cross the River Carnach, climb to the Mam Meadail, then down Glen Meadail to Inverie and a ferry back to Mallaig.

As I had already walked the 3 miles from Morar to Mallaig I parked in Mallaig and caught the 6:03 train to Morar. It was still dark when I got off the train and began the 3 mile walk to the end of the public road at Bracorina. I must confess I did not enjoy carrying the large rucksack with all that additional weight. I had used my large rucksack in the past and had never got on with it. I hoped to reach Sourlies bothy later that day and maybe sleep in the bothy. At this point I just did not know how far I would get or how I would feel. I soon reached the end of the public road and set off down a well made path along the north shore of Loch Morar. I passed the remains of the chapel at Inbhir Beag, once the main congregation place for people living around the loch. I pressed on in the early morning sunshine, passing by the ruins of the old settlement at Brinacory. It had turned out to be a glorious day with hardly a cloud in the sky and the snow-capped peaks reflected in a still Loch Morar.

I eventually reached  Swordland and its isolated holiday lets and shortly after South Tarbert Bay where there is a dramatic break in the high ground, enabling the portage of boats between Loch Morar and Loch Nevis through the narrow Glen Tarbet. I had considered following the southern shore of Loch Nevis, but from what I had read it sounded very rough going. I opted therefore to take the high route onto Sourlies. However, to do this required me to scale the steep-looking crags of Cnoc a’Bhac Fhalaicthe. I crossed over a fence stile and a short distance later a 8ft deer fence. It was very tough going and there were many moves up the steep rock which I could normally do,  however, the large pack  meant I was always top-heavy and really bulky. I was glad to top out and get a good view what was ahead of me. I did not bother using the map as the clear weather meant route finding was not a problem. My next destination was Sgurr Mor at 612m, although it was a case of picking the best route through the numerous bogs and knolls. The view from Sgurr Mor was excellent with Eigg, Rum and Skye all on show as well as the rough ground all the way back to Morar. I could also look ahead to Sgurr nan Ciche as well Beinn Bhuidhe across Loch Nevis.

Early morning at Bracorina looking east up Loch Morar
On the path on the north shore of Loch Morar
Approaching Glen Tarbet with the crags of Cnoc a’Bhac Fhalaicthe on the right
Looking down Loch Nevis to Skye
Looking towards Sgurr Mor with Sgurr na Ciche left
Looking back over North Morar with Eigg, Rum and Skye in the far distance
Looking east towards Sgurr Breac with from left Ben Aden, Sgurr na Ciche and Garbh Chioch Mhor
Looking down to the head of Loch Morar
Descending off Sgurr Mor
Looking down to the head of Loch Nevis, River Carnach and houses at Camusrory

I had planned to stay high until Sgurr Breac, but decided to gradually lose height on its northern corrie. There were still large patches of snow which provided easy walking on the less steep bits. I walked around the rim of Coire na Murrach and across Coire na Caithris. I was able to see the houses at Camusrory in the distance and knew that I was close to the head of Loch Nevis. After spotting a ruin on the map below me I descended down steep slopes to the lochside. There was little or no path and the going was tough. Although the tide was out, walking along the shoreline was difficult because of the amount of kelp masking the rocks underneath. I rounded a headland and spotted Sourlies bothy. With the tide out I was able to almost take a direct line across the bay towards the bothy. The Finiskaig River at this point had diverted into multiple streams which made the crossing very easy. It was 14:30 when I arrived at Sourlies Bothy. The bothy was empty and I could see that a number of previous entrants were a group of Germans on an adventure holiday. I parked a chair outside and made myself a brew. I spent the next hour resting, taking in the views and …….thinking.

Heading across the River Finiskaig to Sourlies Bothy
Sourlies Bothy

The crossing of the River Carnach was at the back of my mind. I knew that the bridge had been dismantled because of safety concerns and that I would have to cross the river somehow. I could have stayed in the bothy overnight or I could tackle crossing the river now. I felt good, my legs were good, the tide was out. I decided to cross the river, climb to the Mam Meadail and maybe camp further down in the Glen. I set off.

With the tide on the turn I just about squeezed the small headland at Strone Sourlies and made a b-line towards the ruins at Carnoch. I walked along the banks of the River Carnach and passed at least two easy crossing places which were quite shallow and an easy paddle. I arrived at the bridge and found the remnants strewn on the bank. I decided to cross the river about 50 metres upstream, but first I needed to change into my plastic “crocs” which I had brought with me. The walk across took 20 seconds, the water was freezing cold but below my knees. I was aware that people had lost their lives in this river while attempting to cross in far less favourable conditions.

I got changed and set off past the ruins to begin the slow slog up the Mam Meadail. It took over 1.5 hours to finally reach the bealach and I was quite exhausted when I reached the top. I was back at the snow-line and a brief hail shower appeared before the sun came out again. I could see the excellent path gently dropping down Glen Meadail towards Inverie. At this point it dawned on me that I could now make it all the way to Inverie! The prospect of a bed in the Foundation Bunkhouse at Inverie, not having to put my tent up, an early ferry the following day, maybe even a pint in The Old Forge? Spurred me on. I did not know if there were rules out about checking into the bunk house so I set off down Glen Meadail at a fair pace.

Squeezing around Strone Sourlies
The magnificent Ben Aden
Where the bridge once stood
Remants of the Bridge
Change of footwear for the crossing
The ruins at Carnoch overlooked by Sgurr na Ciche
Looking down towards the River Carnach from the Mam Meadail

The early evening sun was falling on the snow and ice of Meall Bhasiter which made for a beautiful sight. By the time I reached the bridge across the River Meadail, the exertions of the day were starting to catch up with me. Although I had walked over this tracks 15 and 6 years ago, the final couple of miles into Inverie were exhausting. I arrived at the bunk house after 12.5 hours of continuous walking and I was really relieved to have a bed for the night. I could not make the half mile to the Old Forge, but I managed to “cadge” a tin of McEwans from Becky, one of the visiting students. I also managed to book myself onto the first boat the following morning.

A terrific and challenging days walk amid some of the best scenery in the UK. The next couple of sections northwards will also be difficult and I doubt I will carry a large pack again. I can just move much quicker and longer with the lighter pack.

Looking west towards Inverie down Gleann Meadail
Early evening sun on Meall Bhasiter

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:


Distance today = 26 miles
Total distance = 3,675 miles


204. Flamborough to Hornsea

I was checking my walking stats for the first 3 months of 2017 with 2018. In 2017 I did 5 walking days compared to 10 in 2018 (and still with a week to go till month end). This is not bad given the appalling weather we have had this Winter. Certainly, having the option of walking down the East coast has meant my overall progress around the coast has not stalled.

My present position on the east coast has now brought me into range for a single day’s walking (albeit a long day). I therefore took the opportunity of a fine forecast for the East Riding of Yorkshire. However, the travel logistics of getting from Hornsea (where I had parked for free) to Flamborough North Landing meant a number of bus and train journeys. I could have got a direct bus to Bridlington, but this meant starting the walk at 11:18, some 2 hours later than catching the bus to Beverley, then train to Bridlington then bus to North Landing. At a whopping £16.10 it was not a cheap option or even a speedy one with travel time + waiting time almost 3 hours!

I get off the bus near North Landing and make my way back onto the Headland Way. It was quite muddy close to the car park, but as I moved further away the going got dryer and far less muddy. It was a lovely spring like morning with the sun out and stiff breeze making sure I don’t get too warm. I headed out towards Flamborough Head, with its famous lighthouses. The old lighthouse was completed in 1674 and is one of the oldest surviving complete lighthouse in England. Built from chalk, it was never lit. I passed the souvenir shops at Flamborough Head and there were a few people out enjoying the morning sun. As I rounded the Head,  Bridlington came into view  and the flat coastline beyond which runs south well into the distance. A footpath runs along the Chalk cliff top which gently dips down to the west such that by Bridlington it is no more.

Flamborough North Landing
Selwick Cove, the sea stack has a tyre placed on its top with a bird nesting in it!!
The Old Lighthouse Flamborough Head
Flamborough Head, can you spot a pair of bird watchers?

By the time I reached Danes Dyke I decided to continue along the beach, walking along the Chalk bedrock. I made good progress along the beach and by the time I reached the outskirts of Bridlington I could see the sea front was quite busy. I passed by a number of the familiar seaside businesses and popped into a nearby Greggs for  a coffee and a sandwich.

I continued along the promenade above South Beach. The next 12 -14 miles was spent on the beach, probably the longest section of beach walking I had done to date. The tide was quite a fair bit out, but I could sense that it was beginning to flow. The underfoot walking conditions was quite good, but I had to seek the firm damp sand every so often. The downside of walking along the beach, is the lack of things to see; you are just basically walking in a very straight line. The upside is given the right underfoot conditions you can make good progress. By the time I was approaching Hornsea, the tide was definitely coming in, but this was not an issue and there were many places to scramble up the slumped cliffs if I needed to. I looked back at my route and could just about make out Bridlington and the chalk cliffs in the sunny afternoon haze.

Flamborough South Landing
Heading towards Bridlington along the beach
Chalk cliffs gently dipping to the west
Bridlington Harbour
There was an awful lot of this type of walking
Entering the sedate resort of Hornsea

Distance today = 23 miles
Total distance = 3,649 miles


203. Scarborough to Flamborough

I was a bit sore after yesterdays exertions, but my knees and legs felt good. I knew that todays distance may or may not be achievable, as it was quite a distance to get back to Bridlington station where I had parked my car rom Scarborough.

I caught the 7:41 train to Scarborough which  was a delight in the early morning spring sunshine. First port of call in Scarborough was a coffee and bacon butty from Greggs. I strolled out from Scarborough along the promenade, munching my butty and enjoying my coffee. It was indeed a beautiful sunny morning with blue skies and not a breath of wind. As I approached Wheatcroft Cliffs the path left the promenade, it was time to scale the steep rise to the top of the cliffs. I was afforded a brilliant view looking back at Scarborough and  was hoping that today would be better underfoot. In fact it was not much better, but I did not mind so much because in 7 more miles the Cleveland Way will have ended. At Cayton Bay, the trail was signposted for a very steep and slippy descent down Tenants Cliff and an equally boggy and slippy meander through some woods, then a steep and slippy climb back up the slope to rejoin a public footpath that I had only just left. The route planning of some of the people who plan these trails defy logic.

Looking towards Scarborough Castle
Looking back at Scarborough from Wheatcroft Cliffs
Approaching Filey Brigg

I saw that the route ahead looked very grassy and even, which was a relief. The final two miles along the cliff top to Filey Brigg was enjoyable and relatively dry. The town of Filey cames into view, as I finally reached the end of the Cleveland Way and Wolds Way. I headed the short distance into Filey itself. As I passed the RNLI station I enquired about the tides. I told one of the crew that I wanted to get all the way along the beach to Speeton Cliffs and asked about access off the beach there. The crew member advised that I could not get off the beach there as the tide did not go out far enough. I checked my map for the various options and it seemed that the best route was an inland detour. I should have checked beforehand, because when I did arrive at Speeton Cliffs, the tide was well out and I could have scrambled up a path from the beach.

The detour inland involved a number of additional extra miles and initially following a muddy track, where I finally slipped over on a steep bank. I arrived at a main road, with a footpath alongside  and continued walking south. I soon left the main road and continued on minor roads through the villages of Reighton and Speeton.  As I passed by the small church of Speeton, I joined what was called The Headland Way. Immediately,  I saw an improvement in the underfoot conditions and  I knew the geology had  changed. A quick glance at the cliff faces confirmed this as I could see I was walking on Chalk now. These cliffs were quite marvelous and would be with me all the way to Flamborough Head. The footpath gently dropped and fell and I could see a considerable distance ahead. Speeton Cliffs passed into Bempton Cliffs, at 400ft they are some of the highest sea cliffs in England. I left North Yorkshire behind me and passed into the East Riding of Yorkshire. I also passed onto the RSPB site at Bempton. It had many visitors today and some were making use of the wooden viewing platforms that overhung the cliff face to give excellent views of the birds (particularly Gannets) and the cliff face itself. The whole reserve stretched for something like 6 miles and it was certainly an impressive sight.  I pass a couple of bird watchers near Dane’s Dyke, they are seeking a small flock of Lapland Buntings who have been spotted close-by.

Start / End of Cleveland & Wolds Way at Filey Brigg

It began to dawn on me that I probably would not make Bridlington today on foot; so I remembered checking that there was a bus service that ran to Flamborough North Landing. I did not have bus timetables, so I did not know how long I would have to wait. I found a bus stop close to North Landing with a bench, but no timetable. I sat down and waited. After 20 minutes a bus came into view. The bus whisked me back into nearby Bridlington. It had been a much better day weather wise, although with the slip I was even more muddier than yesterday.

Looking towards Filey from Filey Brigg
Filey Brigg
Looking back towards Filey from Speeton Cliffs
Easy walking along the top of Speeton Cliffs
Bempton Cliffs
RSPB Bempton Cliffs
Heading towards Flamborough North Landing

Distance today = 23 miles
Total distance = 3,626 miles


202. Whitby to Scarborough

This year the weather has played an enormous part in influencing where and when I can continue my walk around the coast of Great Britain. Until last week I had firm plans to begin my walk into Knoydart from Mallaig. There had been little rain and the BBC forecast looked good. However, I also had to check out the Scottish Mountain weather forecast, because I had to climb over 300m, 500m and 700m peaks and the forecast of heavy snow with possible whiteout conditions on the high summits made me think again.

Yet again I had to turn my attention to the North East of England. The forecast for two reasonable days looked promising, however, the day before I travelled a weather warning was issued for North Yorkshire, which warned of snow showers and possible travel disruptions. Too late to change my plans, so I decided to go anyway.

I left Shropshire early to drive to and park at the Scarborough Park & Ride, located a few miles to the south of the town. A week before I would have been able to park for free in some of the car parks in the town. Now it would have cost me £7 to park for the day! I therefore opted for the P&R, at £1.20 it was great value for money as well as being close to the Cleveland Way.

I caught the first bus of the day at 7:05 into the town centre and made my way to the railways station where I would catch the X93 bus to Whitby. At £6.10, the bus is not cheap, but the Middlesbrough bound bus does offer a regular service. As we drove over the North York Moors the snow began falling heavily. It was still snowing and sleeting as I arrived in Whitby. The sleet and rain would be with me for virtually the rest of the day, ensuring I got quite a soaking and affecting the quality of some of my photographs, with misting on the lens.

I set off through the wet streets of Whitby and made my way up the 199 steps to the ruined Abbey. As I left Whitby behind, I could see that progress along the Cleveland Way was going to be tough with the amount of mud that was underfoot. I had walked other National Trails in mid-Winter and had expected there to be some difficult walking. However, this section of  Cleveland way was particularly bad, my progress was very slow and I dropped down to just over 2 mph by the time I reached Robin Hood’s Bay. The terrain was not making it easy with numerous steep descents and ascents across various water courses. After leaving the charming village of Robin Hood’s Bay the path became even more boggy and I read a number of signs advising of the state of the path and an intention to do something about it. After climbing out of another steep valley, The Boggle Hole (great name and site of a YHA), I realised that I would struggle to make Scarborough before nightfall. Even worse, I may not be able to get back to the P&R and my car would be locked-in for the night! I had to re-evaluate my route. After reaching a small section of tarmac road I noticed on my map a potential alternative route. This looked like an old railway course and seemed to be National Cycle route #1.  I followed the road for about half a mile, climbing steeply up the hillside until I came to the disused rail track. This was The Cinder Track a 21 mile walking /cycling route between Whitby and Scarborough, formerly a rail route, the last rail service ran in 1965. The Cinder Track broadly followed the direction of the Cleveland Way but along much higher ground, thus avoiding the water course descents. This indeed was a godsend and I began to make swift progress.

A wet and dank Whitby ahead
Looking across the harbour to the ruins of Whitby Abbey
South Whitby lighthouse
One of the drier bits of the Cleveland Way!
The tight streets of Robin Hood’s Bay
Boggle Hole YHA
As if you did’nt notice!
The Cinder Track
Looking down on the Cleveland way from the Cinder Track

As I entered the small hamlet of Ravenscar I could look down on the Cleveland Way and see other walkers struggling through the mud. The views from the Track were quite extensive and the Cleveland Way briefly joined up with the Cinder Track before descending back down to the cliff-tops. I passed through a number of overgrown platforms and station houses, now converted in private dwellings.

By late afternoon I could finally pick out the ruins of Scarborough Castle six miles away. I passed close-by the small villages of Cloughton, Burniston and Scalby before  entering the suburbs of Scarborough. I left the Cinder Track and dropped down towards the shore at North Bay. I continued into the town centre by first walking along Marine Drive which encircled the rocky promontory of the castle. I emerged by the harbour and walked along the promenade with its usual collection of seaside attractions. I knew I could not make it back the 3 miles to the P&R before it shut, so I needed to catch a bus, fortunately this Service runs every 15 minutes.

The platform and station house at Cloughton
A Fairy House tree with it’s own postbox at Cloughton!
Two Scottish Deerhounds I befriended near Burniston
On Marine Drive in Scarborough
Seafront scene near Scarborough Harbour

I had been walking for over 8 hours and without the Cinder Track I would not have been able to complete my walk, which would have been annoying. I set off from the P&R for the short drive to Bridlington where my B&B was for the night.

The Cleveland Way is a superb walking long distance footpath, however its popularity has caused serious underfoot problems during the winter season. Poor drainage, particularly near water crossing points and the absence of simple channel cutting means that path deterioration will continue unless some measures are taken.

Distance today = 26 miles
Total distance = 3,603 miles