Saltburn to Staithes


Another sad memorial, Kittiwakes and Fulmars, Alfred the Great, the highest cliffs in England, a personal milestone and getting into tangles in a WW1 billet.

I have a relatively short 9 miles to cover today and set out for Staithes along the path that will hug the coast for the next few days with the sea-cliffs and their noisy colonies of Kittiwakes and Fulmars as my companions. Along Marine Parade and across the bridge over Skelton Beck and all that’s left of old Saltburn: a single row of fishermen’s cottages, the Ship Inn and the mortuary, standing alone under Huntcliff. I climb steeply up onto the cliff-top to find a stone marking the start of the Cleveland Heritage Coast covered in flowers and framed photos of Harry Watson and Alex Yeoman  who tragically lost their young lives over the cliff.

Past the old coastguard cottages, and out onto wide open fields on my right and the sea far below me on my left. It’s a beautiful morning and I look back over Saltburn with Roseberry Topping now just a pimple on the horizon.

Guibal Fanhouse
Guibal Fanhouse

The cliffs were once an industrial area, mined for ironstone and alum and the same railway that uses Saltburn viaduct still runs along the cliff as it skirts Warset Hill. I stop to sketch Guibal Fanhouse which ventilated mineshafts with huge revolving paddles.


Descending the steps down to the dunes, beach and quay before Skinningrove, I come across the Belgian couple I met at breakfast and we have another chat. The tide is out and the wide sands glisten gloriously in the sunshine as families play together.

I have left these sketches exactly as I did them in my small, 3.5 x 5 inch sketchbook instead of adding colour later as I often do.

Skinningrove is an old industrial area worth exploring but I don’t have time. I do have time to treat myself to a Magnum and get a meat pie for my lunch later. Well, it is Sunday and I think I deserve it because I have just clocked up 100 miles on my hike!

Later I sit in the lea of a drystone wall to eat my pie and am joined by three weekend hikers and their Jack Russell. Somehow we get talking about Alfred the Great of all things. I have spent the last few days more or less on my own so it’s good to be chatting again.

There are a few more climbs and descents to negotiate and at one point the route has been moved inland where the path has disappeared over the cliff edge but I am soon coming into Staithes, where I will be staying for the next four nights, and go down the steep pathway and across the bridge into the picturesque little harbour-town.

I booked four nights in Staithes because I thought that by this time I might be exhausted; it’s a good area for sketching; and I can reach further stages of the Cleveland Way by bus if I want to. Fortunately, I am not exhausted or crippled and feel pleasantly pleased with myself having walked further than ever before.

I am staying at Trig Point 49 which is an old WW1 army camp on the hill above the harbour. One of the wooden barrack blocks has been converted into small apartments and breakfast is delivered in a cold-bag the previous evening. At least, that’s the deal but it turns out differently.

The owners are away this week. I have their phone number but there is no signal in Staithes. I climb to the highest point I can find to get a hint of a signal: someone else will call me back to tell me how to get in. But they can’t get through so I decamp to a nearby tea room. The tea room staff help out and lend me a phone on a different network: the owners’ daughter is now waiting for me so I leave my cake and tea, which they kindly keep for me, and hurry back. There is breakfast for tomorrow, but not afterwards: “they are very sorry, but have stopped doing it”.

I settle into the nautically named ‘Tangles’ (think lines and nets), although later I move to ‘Crow’s Nest’ when the Tangles’ sink plug gets stuck. It’s clean, comfortable, very nicely decorated and has a wooden patio with a picnic table; a resident racing pigeon who seems lost and a fine view over the car park towards the sunset. I meet the owners later in the week who are very nice people and apologise about the mix-up. All things considered, I like Trig Point 49 and would recommend it if you can live without an early breakfast because nothing in Staithes opens before 10:00. But do phone ahead!

Staithes - Cod & Lobster
Staithes – Cod & Lobster

I eat down at the Cod & Lobster on the harbour which I will do several more times this week. Fortunately, as there is no other choice, it serves very good food, has strong WiFi and unusually good piped music. And the ale is good too! But it is a very difficult building to draw, which I do several times and never get it quite right!

9 miles (14.5km) in about 4 hours

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