Day 46 Tyne and Wear

Thursday 21 May 2015

Sunderland to Whitley Bay
16 miles
Esplanade Lodge Guest House

Today I crossed 2 rivers, the Tyne and the Wear. First up was the Wearmouth Bridge, linking the 2 halves of Sunderland. 

road and rail bridges across the Wear
 A pleasant walk follows the cycle way to the end of the coast-to-coast cycle route (which I did in 2010) and there are plenty of information boards to read. Once past the Wear mouth it’s North to South Shields along a lovely bit of coastline. The beaches are long and sandy and the magnesian limestone cliffs have eroded and left a few interesting stacks and caves.  

How many cormorants can fit on one rock?
 The Wherry is a quaint little bay with a rock stack in the middle that used to divide the boy’s side from the girls’ when it was popular in the early 1900s.  

The Wherry and Souter lighthouse
 Souter lighthouse is the landmark at Lizard Point and overlooks Marsden Bay, the site of Marsden Rock.  

Marsden Rock in the middle of Marsden Bay
 The Rock used to be bigger and was a distinct landmark for passing boats to navigate by and for people to congregate on (saw a great photo of a Mass taking place on the rock in 1910). The coastline around here was a smuggler’s paradise as well as being good for quarrying. Marsden had a quarry, limestone kilns and a purpose built village on the cliff that was demolished when the industry closed and now there’s no trace of it.  

Marsden limestone kilns closed in the 1960s
The walk around the South Shields headland was more dull, although there were plenty of quirky sculptures and things to see.  

Little Haven little people. A bit weird.
 The council were busy building up the beach.  
maybe there’s not enough sand? Tynemouth Castle in the background
I caught the foot ferry across the Tyne to North Shields and then walked along the old Tynemouth quayside, now devoid of industry but with a few cafes and fish shops. Tynemouth headland, and the town on the cliff, looks very nice. Fantastic position for the 14th Century castle and Benedictine priory, where 3 kings were buried.  
Tynemouth Castle and Priory overlook King Edward’s Beach
 A walk along Long Sands beach brought me to Whitley Bay, a slightly run down resort in the process of being ‘improved’.  

derelict swimming pool, Long Sands and Whitley Bay
  The South side of the town overlooks the pretty Cullercoats Bay with its history of fishing, lifeboats and as a destination for artists. 

Cullercoats Bay

Day 45 Durham Coast 

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Hartlepool to Sunderland
18 miles
Acorn Guest House

This is what you get with cheap guest houses aimed at contractors: shared bathrooms (no problem), ropey beds, DIY breakfasts and a packed lunch with sandwiches that look like I’ll live longer if I don’t eat them. 

Trying to find my way along the front in Hartlepool was harder than it should have been. The marina has too many dead ends and not enough ways out!  

Looking at The Heugh from the Marina
 Eventually I got out onto a main road and caught the bus to the headland, which is the old part (Harts Island or Heugh). It was rather quaint and I stopped at a cafe that was a converted church for a coffee and breakfast top up. Leaving Hartlepool I walked along the North Sands beach, which was variously golden sands and black sands (well sand covered with sea coal that was once collected to top up that which was mined from under the sea).  

Sea coal on the beach
At Crimdon Park there was a little tern nesting site that was being watched over by volunteer wardens in their hut. Bill offered me a cuppa so naturally I accepted and offered biscuits in exchange. I spent a happy hour listening to Trev’s wisdom on little terns and other animals (he was a poacher turned gamekeeper before he retired).  

Bill and Trev, Crimdon Park Little Tern wardens
 Once I got on the headland the views were amazing and I started on the Durham coast path. Another beautiful part of the country. There are 8 denes that cut into the Durham coast, each one must be crossed or walked around, and that makes it a little hard going but adds to the beauty.  

Blackhall Colliery Dene
 This is coal mining country and the landscape is still recovering even though the last mine closed 24 years ago. The waste used to be dumped over the cliffs but nature is doing a great job of repairing itself. The mining history is clearly still mourned by many and there is lots of art work on the cliffs.  

One of many tributes to the mining heritage
 The coastal views were stunning, especially as it was a glorious afternoon. My favourite views out to sea: bright yellow gorse, lush green grass, deep blue sea and pale blue sky.  

The view along the coast at Dene Mouth
The railway line runs close to the coast here and train travellers must get some good views.  

Castle Eden Dene railway viaduct
 Approaching Seaham I rounded Nose’s Point for a good view of the beach below, which was once the site of a coal mine and before that an iron mine. Now it’s a beautiful beach with only a few scars.  

Beach after mining
 I walked through Seaham to see Tommy, one of many large war memorials I’ve seen in the North East.  

Seaham’s ‘Tommy’
 From Seaham I caught the bus into Sunderland town centre where I was staying for the night. I felt a bit funny walking into town in my Cat One evening dress, but nobody bothered in Wetherspoons. Sat by a group of people and realised I couldn’t understand a word they were saying. Can’t wait for someone to call me ‘pet’.  

The big little tern on the cliff top at Horden (Trev says it shouldn’t have a crest really). Stunning colours of the sea and sky

Day 44 Teeside

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Skinningrove to Hartlepool
17.5 miles
Brafferton Guest House

To make the most of my expensive guest house I ate, ate and ate some more at breakfast, so much so that I was late leaving. As soon as I set off the first rain squall hit and that set the pattern for the morning. I headed up the hill and back onto the Cleveland Way. Walking across Hunt Cliff I was afforded great views back to Skinningrove Pier and the lovely-looking Cattersty Sands.  

Cattersty Sands and Skinningrove Pier
 The cliff path was next to a railway line for a while and I enjoyed the strange art works on display as well as the remains of the Guibal Ironstone Mine works.  

An oversized charm bracelet withcthe Guibal Ironstone Mine Fanhouse in the background
 In between the showers the sun shone on the wonderfully clear sea and the views were great. The most captivating one was as I came off Warsett Hill and there was Middlesbrough spread wide in front of me and looking like a Lowry painting without the matchstick men. The threatening sky added to the drama of the picture of this industrial landscape and, in its own way, I thought it looked quite stunning. Unfortunately I couldn’t take a photo that would do it justice.  

Industrial landscape of Middlesbrough under a brooding sky
 Saltburn-by-the-Sea is a Victorian seaside town and where I finally left the Cleveland Way, as it curved inland, and took to the beach along 3 miles of sand to Redcar.  

Saltburn-by-the-Sea maintains its Victorian charm
 The squalls kept coming, as did the thunder and then the hail. For the hailstorm I was forced to stand in a hotel entrance to take shelter as the stones were rather large and painful, and covered the ground white. At one point on the beach I could see rain to the right of me over the sea, rain to the left of me and a huge black cloud in front of me. I had to stop in a cafe at Redcar to try and avoid the heaviest rain. I ate the greasiest cheese toastie I’ve ever seen swilled down with a mug of tea and took advice from the locals on walking through Middlesbrough. The Teesdale Way was fine but don’t go into Port Clarence if I want to live. 

Bearing that in mind I set off, in the now constant rain, along the Redcar seafront heading for the Teesdale Way. 

Fancy signpost for an unmaintained path. (The white on the ground is the remains ofthe hailstorm from 2 hours earlier)
  The reality of this path is that it goes alongside the railway line and the industrial works by the Tees. Although signposted, it was badly overgrown, fenced in to point of being claustrophobic, dirty with waste and grime, and at one point had a contractor fence across the path that I had to climb over. It was not a pleasant walk and I was glad when I reached the road once more.  

There is sludge running down the wall!
such an inviting path!
 I finally reached The Riverside football stadium and could see my destination clearly, the transporter bridge across the Tees to Port Clarence and the road to Hartlepool. Built in 1910 it is essentially a section of road that is suspended across the river and moves from one bank to the other. Is never seen one (apparently there are 7 left in the world) so paid my 60p for a ride across.  

A random sculpture in front of the view of the transporter bridge
Here comes the road!
 I finished the day with a bus ride along the main road, past more industrial works, to Seaton Carew and then Hartlepool. It had been a long, wet and industrial day. 

Day 43 North Yorkshire Mining Towns

Monday 18 May 2015

Whitby to Skinningrove
16 miles
Moonfleet Guest House

A bus ride to start the week, this one to get from Robin Hood’s Bay to Whitby, where I finished walking on Friday. It’s never ideal to start walking in the rain but at least it wasn’t a heavy downpour and the visibility was still quite good.  

The heavy sky darkening the view North from Whitby
 Today was more up and down over the North Yorkshire cliffs and the first town I came to was Runswick Bay, which was rather like a newer version of Robin Hood’s Bay; pouring off the cliff, narrow streets, at the North end of a wide bay. 

Is it Robin Hood’s Bay? No, it’s Runswick Bay
 An equally pretty little fishing town.  

Higgledy piggledy Runswick Bay
 Just around the headland is Port Mulgrave, which was the site of the first of the 2 ironstone mines that I walked past today. I realised when I saw Easington on the map that I was in mining country, but I didn’t know N Yorkshire used to be the hub of iron and alum mining.  
Looking back at Staithes with the Boulby Alum Mine in the foreground
 Staithes is the final fishing village within the North Yorkshire Moors National Park and it is extremely pretty nestled in the hillside next to The confluence of the 4 becks in the area. 

 I stopped at Dotty’s Tea Room for a cream tea and a chat with a few of the locals about my trip. 

Tea in N Yorkshire comes in proper tea pots
 As I walked over the headland towards Skinningrove the sun came out and I got my first glimpses of Middlesbrough in the distance. The views along the coast and inland towards Borrowby Dale and Easingron Beck were stunning, even though punctuated by Boulby mine and the steel works at Loftus. Skinningrove is a funny little place tucked out of the way. It used to be a mining community and looks like it’s still struggling to reinvent itself. It was badly flooded twice in 2000 and flood prevention is key to this town, which is apparently well known for its pigeon fanciers and even has a statue dedicated to the Skinningrove Homing Society.  
The Pigeon Fanciers’ Statue
 Skinningrove only got stranger for me as the only pub in the village seems more like a house (but a meal cost £4 so I wasn’t complaining) and my guest house locked me out on the street for 40 mins. Most odd that I couldn’t get in. I went round to the neighbour’s house to see if they could help me and met an old man with one leg (apparently he lost the other one through drinking too much) and then had to try and convince an old lady with dementia that she needed to go home. An eventful evening. The guest house owner eventually answered the door and let me in. 

WEEK 6 – Withernsea to Whitby, Yorkshire


72 miles
(Total 526 miles)

Two distinct parts of Yorkshire this week: the eroding Holderness coast with its lost villages and small seaside towns, and then the striking North Yorkshire Moors. In between those was Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs, which were just stunning. All the sea birds were amazing to see, especially the puffins. 

Passing through Bridlington and Scarborough it struck me that every large town I can think of that I’ve walked through, the posh end with the large houses has been to the South and the funfairs etc at the North end of town. Just an observation. 

I met lots of walkers doing the Cleveland Way around N Yorkshire and then at Robin Hood’s Bay there were people finishing the Coast-to-Coast. No one going as far as me and I did upstage all the other walkers drinking in the Bay Hotel when I was asked about my walk. A bit embarrassing. 

I enjoyed all the history of the North Yorkshire coast (and the lack of caravan parks). I was particularly struck by the old fishermen’s woolly jumpers called ‘ganseys’. They were knitted with patterns specific to the community the fisherman was from, which meant in the event of an accident (and there were many) the home of the body was identifiable. 

I hope to come back to the Yorkshire coast again; beautiful places. 

Days 41 & 42 Robin Hood’s Bay

Saturday and Sunday 16-17 May 2015

Rest days
Bank House Cottage, Robin Hood’s Bay

It was nice to spend a couple of days in Robin Hood’s Bay staying in one of the quirky fishermen’s cottages at the bottom of the steep hill. The weather wasn’t too bad and I was determined to go for a first dip in the sea on my trip, so Sally and I braved the cold sea twice. Once at Hayburn Wyke, a magical place where the beck flows onto the stony beach, and on Sunday morning in Robin Hood’s Bay before breakfast. Invigorating is the word.  

swimming (briefly) at Hayburn Wyke. Freezing!
 I went back to Ravenscar when the tide was out to get a good look at Peak Fault, the only fault line I know of in Britain. I thought it was impressive. It was also a chance to watch the seal colony that basks at the base of the cliff.  

The fault line (actually a ‘V’ shape) at Peak Fault
 Weather forecast is predicting rain for much of the next week as I tackle the Northern towns of Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Sunderland and Newcastle. I am therefore expecting a big contrast to last week. 

Day 40 Fish and Chips in Whitby

Friday 15 May 2015

Robin Hood’s Bay to Whitby
7.5 miles
Bank House Cottage, Robin Hood’s Bay

An easy day today as I could leave behind my tent, cooking stuff and spare clothes and head to Whitby with a lighter rucksack. No poles required and the walking felt so easy, which is a good job because the start is a walk up the 30% gradient hill out of Robin Hood’s Bay. The tide was out so I got a good view of the ‘scaurs’ left by the erosion of ancient sandstone formations.  

Looking back on Robin Hood’s Bay with the ‘scaurs’ exposed at low tide
Another chance to enjoy the back drop of the North Yorkshire Moors as I walked over the cliff tops to Whitby.   

Fancy staying here? This old lighthouse is now a holiday cottage
 It’s easy to see where Whitby is because the old Abbey ruins stand proud on the cliff top and the harbour sea defence also juts out from behind the cliffs.  

Approaching Whitby, the ruined Abbey on the cliff
 But first there’s Selwick’s Bay, a lovely stretch of beach framed by the Black Nab To the South and Saltwick Nab to the North.  

Selwick’s Bay, including Black Nab and Saltwick Nab
Black Nab looking a bit like a submarine…or is it a shark?
I reached Whitby in time to meet my friend, Sally, and head to Pier Road to try out some of Whitby’s famous fish and chips. There are so many fish and chip shops to choose from and we plumped for a takeaway from Magpies to eat sat on the harbour wall. Good choice.  

Delicious fish and chips in Whitby (no I’m not wearing socks)
An afternoon wandering round the town followed. It’s quite a touristy town but it has a nice feel to it. Famous for Whitby jet (I bought a small necklace as a reminder), being the home of Captain Cook, and as the place where Bram Stoker dreamt up Dracula (plenty of ghost tours and goth shops about), it was also once an important fishing port.  

 Back to Robin Hood’s Bay (in a car this time) for a weekend off to enjoy this area. So much to see and do around here. Best to start the weekend with a 99p ’99’ ice cream I think.  

The view from Bank House Cottage

Day 39 The North Yorkshire Moors National Park

Thursday 14 May 2015

Scarborough to Robin Hood’s Bay
14 miles
Bank House Cottage

It was nice to sleep in a proper bed and thanks to Marie for hosting me, feeding me and allowing me to do some washing. She even gave me a lift back down to the North end of Morth Bay, by the Scalby Mills Sea Life Centre. The sky was grey all day but at least it didn’t rain and the visibility was excellent again.  

The view back across North Bay to the castle (sea life centre bottom left)
Today felt like I was on a completely different walking trip as I entered the North Yorkshire Moors National Park at Long Nab. Here is a perfect spot for the old coastguard lookout station that was built in 1927.  

The Long Nab Lookout Station – I can still see Flamborough Head
No more seaside towns in the National Park, instead I felt like I was hiking through the hills. I saw farmland, hedgerows, cows, a farmer herding sheep, cobbles in the footpath, becks and dales. And then on my right hand side I had the vast expanse of the North Sea and I could hear its constant roar. It was like walking in the Lake District at the coast; brilliant.  

The moors and the coast
The first amazing place I came to was Hayburn Wyke, where Hayburn Beck flowed into the beach.   

Hayburn Beck hits the beach
Standing on the bridge over the beck
What a magical place; somewhere to pitch your tent and have a BBQ. 

There was a lot of up and down on today’s walk, mostly using steps that were all really large and I was glad I had my poles to help. Just a bit further along the cliff was the Ravenscar radar station and lookout that was used in WW2.  

Ravenscar radar station and lookout perched on the cliff
 I reached Ravenscar in time for a late lunch at the tea rooms in the old Ravenscar Hall Hotel. You can’t beat a pot of tea served in China cups. 

From Ravenscar it’s worth leaving the Cleveland Way and heading down to see Peak Fault. It’s a geological fault line right here in the UK that is clearly visible as a line in the rocks at low tide. Look at the cliffs and the ones on your left are completely different to the ones in your right. Amazing. 

The view of Robin Hood’s Bay from Ravenscar is stunning.  

Robin Hood’s Bay from Ravenscar
As I walked on the cliff top around the Bay I stopped to marvel at the old Alum works. The scars of the quarry are visible in the hills and the ruins of the works on the cliff top. To extract the alum from the quarried slate one needs seaweed and human urine! Both were shipped in and hauled up the cliff in a train.  

The two gorse patches are the slag heaps from the old quarry, the alum wprks were below
The town of Robin Hood’s Bay is quaint and has a very steep hill (30% incline). I am staying here in a cottage for the next 4 nights and taking the weekend off to explore the area a bit more. Tomorrow I get to walk to Whitby without my heavy pack.  

The quaint town of Robin Hood’s Bay

Day 38 The Cleveland Way to Scarborough

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Reighton Gap, near Filey to Scarborough
19 miles
Hosted by Hels’ cousin, Marie

I woke to a gloriously sunny morning and a wonderful view across Filey Bay.  

Filey Beach just before I walked along it
Filey has a nice looking sea front with some lovely old buildings. It looked quite small until I walked around the headland and saw the smaller mass of suburbia that sits behind the genteel sea front. I stopped for a coffee and  a bacon and egg buttie and thought about taking a dip, then the clouds started appearing so I didn’t bother. Instead I walked up the cliff and onto the Carr Naze promontary that overlooks Filey Brigg, which is essentially a bunch of rocks that get covered with the tide. Great for rock pooling at low tide apparently.  

Looking out at Filey Brigg
Carr Naze affords great views all round, hence the Romans had a signal station here.   

Fishing from a coble in File Bay
Looking back at Filey from Carr Naze
Also on the headland is a rocket pole that was put there by the Filey Volunteer Life Saving Rocket Company in 1872.  

someone had to stand on the top of this pole pretending to be on a stricken cargo ship and have a rescue line rocket launched at them!
Filey is the start of the Cleveland Way long distance walk and several people asked me if I was walking it. I generally said “yes, and a bit further”. The headland walk all the way to Scarborough was lovely with great views and plenty of birds to watch. Today I saw cormorants nesting on the cliffs and kestrels, although I didn’t see any of the 4 pairs of peregrine falcons that are in the area.  

Stunning cliffs at Lebersten
After Clayton Bay there were several ups and downs as the path weaved its way over the cliffs and through the woods before coming out at Scarborough’s South Bay.  

Looking from South Bay to Scarborough town and the castle on the cliff
Like Filey, Scarborough looks almost regal from the front with its large and imposing buildings. The first one is the Spa theatre (there was one of those in Bridlington too) with its deckchairs and curved glass window. Then there’s the elaborate footbridge that joins the South Cliff to the main town and the Grand Hotel. All relics of Scarborough’s heyday in the 1930s. I wandered around the town taking in as many sights as possible, walked up to the castle walls for a great view of the town and over the top to North Bay.  
Looking down at the harbour from the castle walls, the Wolds in the background
The keep at Scarborough Castle
North Bay has lots of imposing guest houses (and ex-guest houses) looking down on it and the sun was out again as I walked to Marie’s house.  

The view to the castle from North Bay
Marie is my friend Helen’s cousin and she kindly agreed to put me up for the night. Marie is an animal workshop provider and I got a tour of her animals, the snakes, tarantulas, rat, sugar gliders, salamanders and more.  

Me and Lily the Brazilian Black Tarantula

Day 37 Puffins at Flamborough Head

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Flamborough to Reighton Gap, near Filey
14 miles
Moor House Farm Campsite

Wow. What a fantastic day. It started well when I found a cafe in Flamborough village and had my first cooked breakfast in 6 days (not that I’m counting!). I also wrote a postcard to Raymond. Ready to face the day I headed down to the cliffs at South Landing and began my walk around Flamborough Head. The sun came out and even though the wind was still strong it was pretty much perfect. My first proper cliffs of the trip, and they were stunning.  

Looking back at Flamborough Head
As I got to the Head itself there was the lighthouse just inland and I could look down to Selwick’s Bay and see a line in the sea where the brown water met the deep blue. Amazing.  

Brown water meets blue, which side would you prefer to swim from?
I carried on round the cliff, turning more into the wind, and suddenly I saw them (and heard and smelt them), hundreds of sea birds covering the cliffs. And these were only the start because the 400ft high Bempton Cliffs were yet to come. From North Landing all the way along Bempton Cliffs there were thousand of birds nesting. My timing was excellent in this regard and I got to watch gannets, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and even puffins hustling for space on tiny cliff ledges and soaring on the updraughts. A phenomenal sight. It was my first sight of puffins and, next to the expert flyers like gannets, they looked like small clockwork toys with big orange feet, flapping their little wings like mad to stay in the air. I wished I had my binoculars but a kind man loaned me his so I could get a closer view of all these wonderful birds.  

Sea birds covering the cliffs

Gannets, guillemots and kittiwakes in this spot
I even saw a guillemot egg that had been dropped on the footpath.  

Guillemot egg for breakfast?
On the North side of Flamborough Head the 2 tiny bays of North Landing and Thornwick Bay have beautiful blue water contrasting with the chalky cliffs and they are full of caves that need to be explored from the sea.  

North Landing, complete with cobles (small Yorkshire fishing boats with flat bottoms to make them easier to haul up the beaches)
Thornwick Bay with Bempton Cliffs in the background – look at the colour of the sea!
Unsurprisingly, Bempton Cliffs is an RSPB reserve and so, just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, I saw a sign for the RSPB cafe. Time to stop for a coffee, check of the puffin activity on the webcam and chat to the friendly helpers. 

To finish this amazing day I walked down off the cliffs, leaving East Riding and entering North Yorkshire, onto Speeton Sands at the Southern end of Filey Bay. What a view across the bay.  

Filey Bay with Filey Brigg at the end
The wind was getting stronger and I was getting sand blasted on the beach but I didn’t care. This stretch of beach is where the only remains of an amphibious dinosaur were found a few years ago and I met a couple of dinosaur hunters looking for more in the special soft blue-coloured clay. I walked back up the hill to my campsite and managed to pitch my tent behind a big hedge out of the worst of the wind.  

not hard to find a pitch on this campsite! Filey Bay in the background
I had to walk a mile to the nearest pub but it was worth it for decent fish and chips, a pint, wifi and a plug socket for my phone (the last 2 being essentials these days). Luckily I didn’t have to walk back as the barman gave me a lift in his Fiat Panda 4×4.