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.
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.
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