Stage 196, 8th October: Redcar to Runswick Bay
To kick away the heavy industry of Teeside, it was straight down a smart new promenade at Redcar. Sue and Diesy stayed with me for a few miles as we dropped onto Marske Sands for some firm beach walking littered with ammonites and gryphaea fossils, a mollusc which resembles a rather ugly overgrown human nail and accordingly attracting the nickname ‘devil’s toenail’. With two ex geology students stopping every few steps to turn a stone or inspect a pebble progress was a little slow.
On reaching the pier at Saltburn-by-the-sea Sue’s rucksack was a little heavier than normal and she turned back with Diesy as I made my way steeply up hill to pick up the coastal section of the Cleveland Way for some great cliff top walking with distant views back to the small inshore wind-farm near Redcar plus the plumes of industrial smoke and steam of Teeside.
Once I was around the headland, the grim industrial landscape was but a memory and the cliffs now masked a history of Iron and Alum mining instead with only occasional spoil visible way down below or the odd deserted and derelict former mine ventilation fan house up top. Skinningrove and Boulby passed quickly with Boulby’s working mine a rare operational site and sight.
At the steep picture postcard cobbled streets of Staithes I made my way to the top car park for a meeting with Shaun and Ian from the regional Spinal Injuries Association for a quick photo opportunity and a natter. It was a briefer meeting than I would have liked as they both had jobs to get back to and I had a day of walking to finish. I suspect we could happily have shared a pint or two at the Captain Cook Inn if time had been on our side. Instead Sue and Diesy were back with me for the last few miles of anticipated fossil hunting but with the tide in too far to be able to roam the foreshore, Diesy was the happiest as we strode purposefully to Runswick Bay and the joys of our first rural campsite of the week.
Stage 197, 9th October: Runswick Bay to Ravenscar
Steepness was becoming a common feature again and the road down into Runswick Bay was one I was rather glad we hadn’t attempted with Snickers. This time it was a very brief beach walk for Diesy as steep steps took us out of the bay and back over the cliffs for my 4,000 mile landmark. In truth I forgot exactly where I crossed the 4,000 line. It had sadly become less important than previous markers. With the weather almost imperceptibly cooling and the nights drawing in, my first proper thoughts of a deep hot bath, a big comfy bed and a fire in the grate were pulling me slowly towards home. But with another 1,000 miles to go I had to stop those thoughts and just concentrate on one day of walking and maybe the luxury of one week ahead.
Sandsend saw a smattering of retired couples and families with pre-school children enjoying the gentile sea front and picturesque bay. Whitby soon followed with its reputation for fish & chips, kippers, Dracula, Captain Cook, a ruined abbey, narrow cobbled streets and gift shops all bringing visitors in by the coach load. Everything in Whitby was very pretty and additionally great for the sport of people watching, which is exactly what I did as I sat in the churchyard at the top of the abbey steps munching at my sandwiches. The only thing that disappointed me is that somehow I had missed the smokehouse and the opportunity to buy some kippers to make Snickers honk for a few days.
It was more ups, downs and cliff top walking with the added accompaniment of the odd sharp shower to the delightful Robin Hood’s Bay, the curiously named Boggle Hole and a last steep climb up to Ravenscar for a meeting with Sue, Diesy and a rear bumperless Snickers. Apparently “it just fell off”. Fortunately duct tape works wonders and no damage had been done. Note: Full detailed inspection later revealed that the bumper may well have “fallen off” in an earlier life. There were clear scars from a previous repair.
Stage 198, 10th October: Ravenscar to Filey
It was my last day on the Cleveland Way and more lovely cliff tops awaited. Diesy’s morning walk with me was a little shorter this morning and Sue took him back after a couple of miles to pick up Snickers and prepare for another end of week changeover.
After yesterdays showers, a brief thunderstorm last night and a bright sunny morning of increased foot traffic, the path was getting a little muddy. Steep uneven stone steps down into and up out of gullies and gills were becoming treacherous and progress was again a little slower than I would have liked. A heavy dew dried rapidly in the bright morning sun and walkers were out in their droves. Most were open to a “good morning” and a few stopped for a welcome chat, but some were intent on turning their heads seawards and pretending that I didn’t exist. A forced grunting response to my “hello” was the best I could manage from some.
By lunchtime I knew I was approaching Scarborough. The paths were now populated by people with less than suitable footwear and backpacks were absent. As the North beach opened out people’s waistlines opened out too and as I wandered around to the South bay, amusement arcades and chip shops joined the throng of now apparently enormous people waddling along the sea front stuffing chips into their faces. I like chips too, but it all seemed more than a little obscene to me.
I escaped back over the cliffs inaccessible to the waddlers and on towards Filey for a welcome day off, a rendezvous with Kate and an evening out for a couple of pints in a local hostelry and a huge portion of chips in the company of an old friend Simon who had joined up with Kate, Sue and Diesy from his home nearby.