The Cleveland Way – the Yellow Brick Road

Last week we walked the Cleveland Way. Well, technically the Cleveland Way stretches from Helmsley to Filey but we only had a timeline of one week and decided to cover the stretch from Sutton Bank to Scarborough in that time. This was first and foremost a holiday but had the advantage of being great training for JOGLE as we would carry everything we needed on our backs and camp along the way.

We started in Sutton Bank bottom left. This is just a few miles outside of Thirsk.

We set off on a Thursday after work for Thirsk and stayed over in a really nice Wetherspoons hotel/pub. I have to say I’d recommend these. Really good value. We slept well and ate well for very little cost.

Day 1 – Sutton Bank to Ingleby (23.55km – 543m of ascent)

On Friday morning we set off at a respectable 9am in a taxi from Thirsk heading for Sutton Bank. The starting point for us (and for most people would be Day 2 of the complete walk) is high up on a hill. The taxi ramped up the 25% winding hill to the top where we got out at the Sutton Bank Visitor Centre for our start.

We started following the signs for the Cleveland Way but also had the route on our Fenix watches. It’s incredibly easy to follow and there are regular signs with little acorns on. The weather was initially quite sunny but it did cloud over as the day went on. It made for a very pleasant walking temperature.

Excited we are on our way!

After a few km we came across a little cafe (High Paradise Farm) in the middle of nowhere (or so it felt). There, we were able to get some coffees and cake and make a fuss of the resident dog which came to visit each table.

The views were spectacular and although there was some gentle undulation, the majority of this day was spent high up on a plateau, taking in the views for miles and miles underneath rolling clouds and blue skies.

We followed the path which was nearly always a sandstone path, which wound its way along the plateau and which you could see for a mile or more into the distance. It looked like the yellow brick road. Follow, follow, follow…..

An hour or so into our walk we got hungry and decided to squat down in front of a stone wall to hide from the strong wind, so we could get out our stoves and cook up some noodles. We followed this up with a nice brew each and then set off again on our way.

I should add at this point that we both carried all our own stuff. I took my JOGLE bag. It’s 30litres. I also have a 3litre waist bag. I’ll do a separate post on my kit at a later point but I can fit everything I need to survive in these bags. Chris had a much larger bag but essentially had the same stuff. He had two additional things for comfort, but mostly had a much more organised bag with things wrapped up separately for ease of use. My bag was more ‘stuff it all in’. It’s simply a choice of functionality versus weight/size and I decided to go with the exact kit I will be taking for JOGLE.

We eventually started to descend towards Osmotherley and found a lovely cafe where we had toasted sandwiches and some cold drinks. There was yet another ‘live in’ dog who came round and made loving eyes at us with his favourite toy in his mouth. Aww.

After Osmortherley there was a climb upwards again and we started to walk though woodland past the first of many fields of bluebells. Finally we descended quite sharply through the wood and navigated a very narrow path through the trees and over muddy ditches. This bit was ‘off’ the Cleveland Way and was simply to get us to our campsite for the night. It was at this point that Chris stepped down into a ditch that was much deeper than anticipated. There was much swearing. Being behind him I was able to find a different way but then had to scramble up a bank and tripped over some sort of sharp plant entrails. I adorned the long scratches across my shins for the rest of the trip.

A km on and we made it to the Bluebell pub where we were camping in the garden. As we arrived we heard a cuckoo nearby making that distinctive sound. After some dinner and beers in the pub we retired early to our tents to read and get an early night.

Day 2: Ingleby to Chopgate (20km – 846m ascent)

In the morning we took advantage of breakfast at the pub and then set off to rejoin the Cleveland Way.

Back on the yellow brick road

Day 2 was probably the hardest. It started off straight up a hill and was steep enough for a mini scramble at the top. Once up, the day proceeded to continue with many ascents/descents, four of which were steep up/down. Many of the downs were man made stone steps, which I find not only scary but also quite difficult as they never make the steps deep enough for a full foot. So you find yourself stepping down sideways then shuffle over, then a few more sideways steps, negotiate a bigger drop, grab something (oh yeah there isn’t anything) and so on. For me this was mentally harder than physically. I had to stop and pause now and again just to get on top of my breathing (due to feeling uncomfortable with the drops).

One of the peaks

The views on this day were astonishingly beautiful though. This is often the way. The best views are achieved by making the scariest ascents and descents. In one particular valley en route we stopped off at a lovely cafe (Lordstones) and parked our bums in the shade as it was an incredibly hot day. The food and drinks were much appreciated as was the brief respite from the up/down day.

Closer to Chop Gate we saw a sign that pointed to the village and decided to follow this rather than our original route to get there. We think it saved us 1-2km. On arriving at Chop Gate we found the Buck Inn pub where we were staying and put up our tents in the back garden, Wolfgang and his staff are excellent and very helpful. There was only us camping there but there were other people walking the Cleveland Way and Coast to Coast staying in rooms in the pub.

Camping in the garden

We had access to a shower room and toilet and loved staying here. There was a peahen (we think) living in the garden. He made a noise that sounded like one of those foot driven pumps you blow up a paddling pool with 😂. Eee’errr, eee’errrr. We called him Mr Squeaky.

We had both dinner and breakfast in the pub and the food was excellent. There was also a choice of German foods and German music playing in the background, whilst we ate.

Day 3: Chop Gate to Kildale (17.6km – 440m of ascent)

Waving goodbye to Mr Squeaky, we set off on what became the easiest day of hiking. The weather was warm but there was a constant breeze all day that made it perfect for walking. There was just one up at the beginning and one down at the end. We spent the rest of the walk up on a plateau with beautiful views all around, surrounded by moorland and the yellow brick road. There were no cafes en route so we stopped and shared an adventure meal of mashed potatoes and vegetables around midday.

Up on the plateau you can see Roseberry Topping in the distance (the hill with the little peak).

Arriving at Kildale we were both pretty tired. On reflection the previous day had caught up with us and we probably hadn’t eaten enough.

We arrived at Kildale camping barn farm and found that the owners were away on holiday. There were some people there doing an archeological dig and they showed us where the kitchen, showers (although these required money which we didn’t have) and toilets were. They didn’t know anything about us camping though. We went ahead and camped there for the night in the camping garden and were the only ones there. It was great to have the kitchen to ourselves and we cooked ourselves some more adventure food. Unfortunately we’d run out of snacks and I admit we went to bed a bit hungry.

There was a bit of a storm in the night and the tents shook but they stayed in place as they should do. Despite this, we slept incredibly well and got up to make our one and only adventure food breakfasts (chocolate muesli). It was gorgeous so I’ll definitely be getting more of those. We met the owners son before we left who checked in to make sure we’d made ourselves at home. Yes we did!

Still feeling a bit peckish we set off on our way.

Day 4: Kildale to Saltburn (24.74km – 611m ascent)

We knew today was a long day but we also knew it would end with a stay at a B&B in Saltburn and I was looking forward to a decent shower. Chris was looking forward to chips by the sea.

I set off on this day in a bit of a low mood. I think it was just lack of food on the previous day combined with the knowledge we would be walking 25km, our longest day to date. Fortunately a few km into our walk my mood picked up. This walk was probably my favourite day. It was very undulating but I don’t mind ascents and the descents were much more Lorna friendly. We passed many beautiful view points and walked through Forests and moorland.

We stopped en route for some noodles but it wasnt enough and by the time we found a cafe at 16km we were incredibly hungry. We both inhaled some toasties, cake, coffees and soft drinks. The Chase cafe was lovely and played 40/50’s music and had pictures of 40’s/50’s stars on the walls.

Arriving in Saltburn we eventually found our B&B and immediately unpacked all our stuff all over the room to dry out our tents and air sleeping bags etc.

The shower was unfortunately not the best but I managed to clean myself, my hair and my top with hand soap. (I only took two tops which I switched daily and washed when it was possible).

Saltburn was very picturesque and we went to a chippy cafe overlooking the beach and had chips with curry.. sauce/gravy and I had the battered fish. It was all delicious.

Day 5: Saltburn to Hinderwell (17.64km – 459m of ascent)

Day 5 was a special day as it was the first day of walking along the coast line. I was nervous it would be all ups and downs (well worried about steep downs) but it was a fairly easy day made even easier by beautiful weather and stunning views.

Between Skinningrove and Staithes there is a sculpture by Artist Katie Ventress celebrating 50-years of mining at Boulby. The miner in the photo below is sat at a ‘bait’ table, where miners sit to take a break and eat lunch.

We stopped in the picturesque village of Staithes and had teacakes and ice cream.

The descent into Staithes
First ice cream of many

We arrived at the campsite in Hinderwell early due to it being a shorter days walk.

Serenity campsite has to be the nicest, plushest campsite I’ve ever been to. It had a shower/toilet block which was posher than the one we’d had at the B&B. I still only had hand soap to wash my hair (but hey it works). There was also a great kitchen and another lounge type cabin which had Wi-Fi where we spent the evening reading our books.

We went to The Badger Hounds pub across the road for dinner. It was easily the tastiest food I’ve had in a long time. I would give it 5*. You know when you just keeping saying mmmm. This just finished off a perfect day and one of my favourite days of the trip.

Day 6: Hinderwell to Robin Hoods Bay (27.11km – 609m of ascent)

We set off early as we had a long day ahead of 27km. We set off from Hinderwell, rejoined the Cleveland Way and dropped down into Runswick Bay. From there we had a tough climb out of the bay climbing many steps.

The I like the climbing bit face

This was the start of a day that encompassed a series of steps down and back up again out of small ravines as you went along the coast line.

We stoppped along the way in Witsends Cafe in Sandsend and I had huge toasted teacakes with jam and Chris had a vegan sausage butty.

Under the trees is another ravine. You go down another set of steps under the tree line where and then up again.

After many ups and downs we finally walked through a small tunnel and could see Whitby town through the clearing.

We dropped down and down into the main streets where we saw more people than we had for the entire trip so far. An ice cream, a stop at some shops for food to carry and we quickly left as it was simply too busy. We climbed the steps that up to the Abbey on the hill and from there left Whitby behind.

After Whitby there were more ravines and steps….utterly beautiful and I was getting used to them by this point.

In the last few kilometres my feet started to feel really sore. This made the going tough and I was glad to arrive at our campsite at the top of Robin Hoods Bay. It was yet another great campsite with shower block/toilets and a kitchen facilities. After a quick wash we headed down the fields to a pub for dinner and some beers. 😀

Robin Hoods Bay in the early evening

Day 7: Robin Hoods Bay to Scarborough (25.84km – 654m of ascent

This was the hardest day for me. I had already experienced quite a bit of foot pain the day before and had put it down to my boots and socks. I had then stupidly washed two pairs of socks the night before leaving myself with only one dry pair (which were too thin and inadequate for my boots and discomfort). I fashioned two mini extra socks out of some tubing which I cut with my penknife. However, it wasnt enough and i had to keep stopping because of the pain/discomfort. Finally my husband pointed out he had a pair of clean spare socks, which I immediately donned.

It was like magic and the pain eased significantly. This significantly improved my mood for a while. I was able to continue on and we walked 6km and found a lovely cafe in Ravenscar for breakfast. When we left, however, I suddenly got sharp pains in my right ankle and couldn’t understand what was causing it. I figured it must be just the boot chafing. I walked on through the the pain and thought maybe if I blank it out it will start to ease off. It seemed to work and I was able to cover another 6-10km in this way.

On the way I was helpfully distracted by the sight of two peacocks. One of them put on a beautiful show for us and we were able to catch this in a photo.

Eventually however, it caught up with me again and the pain went from a manageable 5/10 to an eye watering 9/10. At this point I was hobbling along and my husband pointed out that maybe we should go off the trail and find a bus to Scarborough. Noooooooo. I really didn’t want to do that. I made the decision to carry on as it felt like a test of my mental strength, something I will have to do for JOGLE.

After a dose of ibuprofen however, it started to become easier and I was able to walk the rest of the way to Scarborough and enjoy the views and the sense of accomplishment of being nearly at the finish. The sun was out as we walked along the promenade into Scarborough and we enjoyed the views and set about looking for our hotel for the night.

We did it!

Our final night was spent in the lovely Raincliffe Hotel in Scarborough. The room was great, they had a bar and a pool table and the pub where we got our dinner was shuffling distance. – perfect.

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