I thought I would make good use of the fine weather to get a single days walk in on the east coast. Not being an ardent fan of Royal Weddings and again not receiving an invite, I left the happy couple to it!
I set off at 05:00 to drive to the East Riding of Yorkshire. I had two chores to do before I started walking, the first was to drop my bicycle off at Kilnsea and the second was to visit my auntie and uncle who live in a small village close to Withernsea.
It was a gloriously hot day when I arrived in Withernsea, I parked in the free car park close to Aldi and then set off down the promenade. High tide had occurred two hours before so I was soon able to get down on the beach and continue walking south. Again not much in the way of things to see when walking along the beach. I kept an eye out for the natural gas terminal at Easington, which is the processing point for the gas shipped from the Easington gas field some 47 miles offshore. I soon arrived at Kilnsea and bought an ice cream at a cafe. I transferred back onto the road and picked up the bicycle I had left some hours before. My intention was to walk to the end of Spurn Head and then ride the bicycle back to Kilnsea.
I set off down Spurn Head which was very busy. I passed over the “wash over” section which makes the lower section into a Tidal Island. The land was quite narrow and you could see large areas, particularly at the southern tip, given over to military installations largely overgrown, some from the First World War. I walked to the tip of Spurn Head and joined a small group of people who had gathered there to gaze across the Humber estuary to Lincolnshire on the far side. For those that did not fancy the long walk there was a lorry people carrier that ferried people down the Spurn, at a price. I cycled back to Kilnsea, but there were a number of sections where the road had washed away and I was forced to push the bike again through the soft sand.
I arrived back in Kilnsea and continued on foot pushing the bike. In retrospect I should have just left my bike there and caught a bus back to Withernsea and returned to pick the bike up. However, I continued along the grassy sea wall, pushing my bike. The grass was fairly long in places, which impeded progress to a small degree. I was aiming for Welwick Salt Marsh, where an access road from the village comes down to the estuary. I was certainly glad to see the Salt Marsh end point as I had underestimated the time taken and I still had the cycle ride back to the car at Withernsea. Still, walking down the length of The Spurn was the highlight of the days walk.
Distance today = 21 miles
Total distance = 3,802 miles
I thought it would be a good idea to have a visual representation of my progress to date in walking the coast of Great Britain. This is basically just a Google map of Great Britain with a red line indicating my progress, its rather crude, but does the job.
Just a few pieces of information:-
Besides my main line of progress, which is currently in Ardnumurchan on the West coast of Scotland, there are two outliers,the first is my “second front” on the east coast and second, the Norfolk Coastal Path which I walked some years ago.
For scaling reasons I cannot show the “Use of Ferries” sections in Devon/Cornwall/Dorset which I am currently walking when weather further north is not so good.
There appeared to be a nice weather window opening up for 3 or 4 days on the West coast of Scotland; unfortunately I could not take advantage of it due to problems with my bike! The absence of any public transport where I would be walking, meant it was imperative that I used my bike. I had bought a cheap[? £110] Chinese bike on Amazon and it turned out not only to be a death trap but also a load of junk! I got my money back and they did not even ask for the bike back, instead they said give it to charity! I could not use this bike even for spare parts, it was that rubbish! My old bike, which is a non-folder had developed a problem with its derailleurs. I have since bought a good quality second-hand bike of Ebay (a Dahon Cadenza). I therefore opted to do a quickie one-dayer on the East Yorkshire coast.
I had delayed doing this walk for a couple of days in order to get the tide just right, as I would be doing the entire walk on the beach. I drove to and parked in the free car park near the leisure centre in Withernsea. I then walked about 200m towards the sea front to catch the 8:45 #129 bus to Hornsea. It was nice looking at the scenery as the bus drove up the coastal road. I say this because often when you just walk along the beach, all you get to see is the sea on one side and the cliff-face on the other. And so it turned out to be.
I left the prom of Hornsea behind and looking north could still make out the white lighthouse at Flambrough Head in the far far distance. On my right flank was the ever present boulder clay cliff varying from 4 – 6m in height which would be with me all the way to Withernsea. It was obvious from the off that this stretch of coast is seriously threatened by erosion at quite an alarming rate. Evidence of slumping could be seen along the entire coast. The most prominent signs of the erosion were the Second World War military buildings which littered the shore, together with underground cables and drains now exposed to the sea.
I entered onto a section of coast that used to form part of the Cowden Firing Range, which ceased operations back in 1998 and finally closed in 2013. However, the RAF is still actively involved by performing weekly ‘sweeps’ along the coast for unexploded ordnance. I came across one such device close to the foot of the cliff. The ordnance looked to be similar to other devices I had seen in the media, I did not get too close. When I got home I called Humber Coastguard to report the find. Apparently, they get regular reports of unexploded devices, that’s why they do so many sweeps of the beach..
Apart from the jumbled pill-boxes and observation towers which had tumbled onto the beach, there was not a great deal to hold one’s interest, although I did find some lovely coloured pebbles which I would lacquer at a later date. After just over 4 hours of walking in a straight line I emerged onto the sea front at Withernsea. Not an inspiring day, but better than trying to walk along the un-pathed cliff top.
Distance today = 16 miles
Total distance = 3,724 miles
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.
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.
Distance today = 23 miles
Total distance = 3,649 miles
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.
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.
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.
Distance today = 23 miles
Total distance = 3,626 miles
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
Still waiting on a reasonable weather window for Scotland and now in range for a long day trip to the North East. My daughter Nicola, relieved of Pharmacy duties for this week, joined me for this walk, which would be predominantly along the Cleveland Way National Trail.
We set off at 5:30 am for the 200 mile trip to Whitby, where we parked and caught the Stagecoach X4 bus to Saltburn-by-the-Sea. The bus route follows the coast, albeit about a mile inland.
We arrived in Saltburn and immediately made for a cafe to get stocked up with coffee. For a Sunday morning there were a surprisingly large number of people out and about, which probably had something to do with the weather, which was sunny, dry with a very light breeze.
The first job was to ascend a rather steep and muddy path up onto the cliff edge. We could make out Redcar in the distance and many industrial chimneys from Teeside. We passed by the site of a Roman signalling station, one of possibly 5 along this stretch of the coast, built to warn of Pictish invaders from north of the Wall. Nothing remains of the station , other than a notice board telling us of its previous existence. At a large charm bracelet sculpture the path runs alongside a railway. This part of the track once formed part the Whitby to Redcar railway; a railway that hugged the coastline and reminders of which we would see later in the day. Virtually all of the track was pulled up many years ago. However, the site of the nearby Boulby potash mine enabled this section to be preserved and used to haul the potash onto the national rail network.
We dropped steeply down to the small hamlet of Skinningrove and climbed again up steep slopes to gain the cliff edge. For virtually, the whole of the rest of the walk, evidence of mining and quarrying could be seen on the steep cliffs. The primary material sought in this quarrying was the extraction of Alum, a substance that required careful preparation and processing. The process involved extracting, then burning huge piles of shale for 9 months. The material was then transferred to a leaching pit to extract a aluminium sulphate liquor. This liquor was then channelled to the alum works where human urine was added – a lot of it – 200 tonnes of it each year! By the mid to late 19th century, cheaper and better alternatives to Alum were found.
We passed over Rockhole Hill and began the descent down towards the village of Staithes. Staithes attracts many visitors due to its location, set almost entirely within a steep-sided ravine which Staithes Beck had cut through the soft rock and clay. The tight cobbled streets reminded me a great deal of some of the small Cornish fishing villages. We found a bench outside of the Cod and Lobster pub looking out onto the small harbour. I knew there was some connection between the village and Captain Cook. On later checking I found that Cook spent time in the village as a young lad working in a shop. We left Staithes by following the steep path up and out of the village .
We walked onto Port Mulgrave and then onto Runswick Bay, where we descended again down onto the beach. There were many people on the beach, mainly walking their dogs. We knew we had to climb steeply again to get up and onto the cliffs. At Hob Holes we followed the path up a stream with steps cut into the side of the stream, after again ascending many steps we emerged onto the plateau of level walking. We continued onto Kettleness and immediately became aware of a railway station there, it then became obvious that this part was part of the old Whitby – Redcar railway. After steeply descending into Over Dale, we also saw the entrance to an old railway tunnel which we later found out went on towards Kettleness. As we approached Sandsend, we passed large excavations and spoil tips as a result of the Alum extraction. At Sandsend, we joined the main road and continued along it into Whitby.
A tough days walking especially with the amount of ascent and descent involved, but a rewarding one, with great views of the cliffs and an industrial past that has shaped the landscape.
Distance today = 19 miles
Total distance = 3,577 miles