Tag Archives: Cleveland Way

Tabular Hills Walk- 50 miles from Scarborough to Helmsley

The Tabular Hills Walk: Days 8 to 10, Scarborough to Helmsley

The Sea Cut diverts the headwaters of the River Derwent toward the sea and it makes a pretty start to the Tabular Hills walk on Day One

The Sea Cut diverts the headwaters of the River Derwent toward the sea and it makes a pretty start to the Tabular Hills walk on Day One

Day 8- Scarborough to Levisham Moor

Today was Day One on the 50 mile Tabular Hills walk from Scalby Mills, near Scarborough, to Helmsley. However it was actually my eighth day on trail, the previous week having been spent completing the Cleveland Way. My intention was to spend three days on the walk, thereby completing a large circle around the North York Moors over ten days.

Three Points of the Compass pitched at the Scalby Mills Camping and Caravanning site prior his Tabular Hills walk

Three Points of the Compass pitched at the Scalby Mills Camping and Caravanning site prior his Tabular Hills walk

It had rained for an hour overnight but I slept well and rose around seven just as the rain set in again. I was excited to be off on another trail and though this was only my second night at the Scalby Mills camp site, I felt I had settled in too much and it was time to move on. I forced down a breakfast of cereal and real milk purchased from the site shop the previous day and enjoyed  couple of pints of tea. Then decided to polish off a couple of chocolate brioche and a pint and a half of milk while I waited for the rain to stop. Once it had I quickly struck camp and heaved an inordinately heavy pack on to my back. Unsure of what the water situation was going to be today, I was packing along three litres of water. The Sea Cut, looking more like a canal, was pleasant walking away from the coastal campsite. There were lots of migrant birds in the trees including Pied Flycatcher, pretty sure I saw Yellow Browed Warbler too.

A competitor in Trackrod rally 2019 accelerates past The Everley

A competitor in Trackrod rally 2019 accelerates past The Everley

Leaving the Cut I joined Mowthorpe Road where I was accompanied by dozens of competitors in Trackrod rally 2019 as they loudly accelerated up the hill on a road section of their competition. It struck me as slightly dodgy putting such enthusiastic drivers on the same road as everyday drivers including farm tractors and quad bikes. I stopped in at the genteel Everley, not only for a pot of tea and bacon sandwich but as much for respite from the race cars hurtling past me.

Once I was able to get away from the road and out into the countryside, my trail rose toward Wykeham Forest where it followed various quiet tracks through the trees. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before I was walking into Dalby Forest and the distant sound of revving motors had turned into the unmistakable sound of a car rally taking place. I wondered if I was going to be able to proceed as their were various signs up and marshals at some junctions. But despite the sight of numerous cars having drifted around corners in the soft trackways, today’s racing seemed to be occurring elsewhere and, though slightly nervous of coming across a car, or twenty, racing down the track toward me, I was able to keep going until exiting the forest on to Grime Moor.

After exiting Dalby Forest the trail approaches the sweeping bend of Hazelhead Moor before suddenyl turning off left. The rounded Blakey Topping is on the right and the ugly RAF Fylingdales in the centre can be seen from miles around

After exiting Dalby Forest the trail approaches the sweeping bend of Hazelhead Moor before suddenyl turning off left. The squat ugly RAF Fylingdales early warning station can be seen from miles around

I neared the Hole of Horcum, which is only a large depression in the terrain, albeit a depression with a wealth of local legend attached. The usual account being giants ripping clods of earth and throwing them around. Commencing my walk across Levisham Moor I stopped to chat to a large group of friends that had just finished a walk across the moor. Conversation moved to our view of Snod Hill where the odd RAF Fylingdales station is sited. The tetrahedron structure is an eyesore for miles around, it is a radar base that forms part of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System. I well remember the three 130 foot diameter geodesic domes that preceded the current station, they were dismantled between 1989 and 1992. We all agreed that, regardless of politics, the golfballs had been more attractive.

The sight, sound and smell of passing steam locomotives on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway continued into the early evening

The sight, sound and smell of passing steam locomotives on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway continued into the early evening

After an 18.5 mile day, tonight’s halt was a wild camp on Levisham Moor and I was well aware that the area is frequently visited in the evening by farmers checking their grazing sheep. So I had to be careful where I tucked myself away. My pitch wasn’t ideal but it did provide a view over the Pickering Beck valley. Grazing sheep and highland cattle regarded this interloper with disdain. The tent was up by six thirty which gave me a bit of time for a simple tent wash, change into insulation layers and cook a meal before dark fell. It was a lovely evening but I was aware that a change was forecast. It was going to get very wet before dawn came.

Wild camp on Levisham Moor

Wild camp on Levisham Moor

Day 9- Levisham Moor to Hutton-le-Hole

My second day on the Tabular Hills was going to be a wet one

My second day on the Tabular Hills was going to be a wet one

I didn’t sleep fantastically well, kept awake first by rutting deer in the forest slopes below, then by the howling wind and driving rain. But I snatched some hours of sleep before rising early for a mug of tea before packing and getting away. I actually enjoyed the wet trudge through the remaining part of the moor in the early morning. Sheep started upon seeing me approach them on the path and ran away a short distance before turning to watch me pass with baleful rheumy eyes. It was a very very damp morning.

At Levisham I dripped my way into the village pub. The chappie in charge swiftly made a bee-line to me. “can I help sir?”, “yes, can I have a pot of tea please?”, “oh no sir, but if you would like to wait in the lounge we begin afternoon tea at midday”. It was eight thirty, I looked around at the tables mostly occupied by people drinking tea, coffee and consuming breakfast and got the message- Piss Off.

Dodgy bridge takes the hiker into a dodgy farmyard

Dodgy bridge takes the hiker into a dodgy farmyard

Today was one of those days where you just have to put your head down and take it. It rained for just about the whole day until brightening up just slightly toward the end. I had 17.5 miles to complete and the views were mostly non-existent, there was little of interest passed. One example of how wrong the day was occurred when I reached a small run down farm. The waymarked trail crossed strands of barbed wire via a rocking loose stile, then crossed a stream via a sloping tipping narrow metal bridge, more barbed wire before depositing me in a cow shit strewn farmyard, I was circled by snarling dogs, with no idea on how I could correctly exit.

About the only thing that was positive during the day was my lunchtime halt. I stopped at the New Inn in Cropton. This is the brewery tap for the micro brewery situated there and I enjoyed roast beef sandwich, bowl of soup and a pint of their ale. There is even a campsite here, but my destination was further on and I couldn’t stop for longer than it took me to dry out a little before the next deluge.

The New Inn at Cropton steadily filled with dog walkers and hikers. Excelent food and drink with welcoming staff, what more can you ask for

The New Inn at Cropton steadily filled with dog walkers and hikers. Excellent food and drink with welcoming staff, what more can you ask for?

Tonight’s halt was at another farm, though this was the other side of the coin from that encountered earlier. Hutton-le-Hole Caravan Park wasn’t cheap but it was immaculate. I was the only camper and arrived to an unmanned reception. A note on the desk welcomed me and directed me to the best drained field. Having pitched, showered and feeling human again, I eventually met up with Annabel to pay and buy a few provisions for tonight’s meal. All comfort food- it was hotdogs, beans and mash followed by lots of dark chocolate accompanied by mugs of hot tea. The sun even showed its face. Final day on trail tomorrow.

After a wet day on trail, the sun eventually showed up at Hutton-le-Hole to finish off my second day on the Tabular Hills walk

After a wet day on trail, the sun eventually showed up at Hutton-le-Hole to finish off my second day on the Tabular Hills walk

Day 10- Hutton-le-Hole to Helmsley

Berries in profusion on this autumn walk

Berries in profusion on this autumn walk

I slept well and rose early. Tea for breakfast and ate bars on trail in the first hour. Annabel had showed me a way across their fields at the back of the campsite which returned me to trail far quicker than the way I had come in yesterday. Beautiful walking across bracken strewn hills, the sun was shining and the land had a glow about it. I felt good and was looking forward to a drier day of walking.

Despite starting with dry feet, my trail shoes were quickly sodden after yesterdays heavy rain but such is the nature of the soil around here that it drains quickly and there was little standing water.

The Tabular Hills walk is pretty well sign posted throughout its fifty miles

The Tabular Hills walk is pretty well sign posted throughout its fifty miles

The Tabular Hills walk is a Regional Trail, an initiative of the North York Moors National Park Authority, it is a bit bitty. While the Cleveland Way follows a natural series of geological features, the Tabular Hills is more a way of joining up the two ends of the National Trail. I enjoyed parts of it but felt there wasn’t enough to make this walk a destination in itself.

Great walking through the table like (tabular) hills out of Hutton-le-Hole

Great walking through the flat, table like (tabular) hills out of Hutton-le-Hole

Beyond the bare hill tops and wet valley bottoms, I slowly moved in to more agricultural areas interspersed with occasional woodlands and scrubby fields. Today was also a series of similar attractive little villages. Belted Galloways were unconcerned enough to not bother even getting up as I passed them. It was a good last day on trail but pretty short at only 14.2 miles.

Quiet little farms and scrubby little fields of livestock are walked through on the final day on trail

Quiet little farms and scrubby little fields of livestock are walked through on the final day on trail

Before I knew it I was on the final stretch, a steadily descending track drops through Ash Dale down toward Helmsley. This little valley has steep wooded slopes on each side and was such easy going that I contemplated jogging the last few miles. Instead I decided to take my time, no need to finish earlier than I would otherwise.

Ash Dale plantation descend for over two miles until ending on the outskirts of Helmsley

Ash Dale plantation descends for over two miles until ending on the outskirts of Helmsley

Helmsley YHA handstamp impression from my trail journal

Helmsley Youth Hostel handstamp impression from my trail journal

I arrived back in Helmsley early afternoon so with plenty of time to spare before returning to the Youth Hostel where this little adventure began ten days earlier, I went to explore Helmsley Castle. Needless to say, I also visited the Brewery for another pint of Striding the Ridge before going to the hostel. I had booked a private room for this final night to allow for a pack explosion. Clean and back into ‘town clothes’, I walked back in to town to The Feathers, facing the market square, for my celebratory steak and bottle of Shiraz.

With only slight diversion and extra miles, my seven days on the Cleveland Way totalled 113.56 miles. I walked 50.2 miles on the Tabular Hills walk, so 163.76 miles in total over my ten day hike. Despite my general lack of hill fitness and some awful, if seasonal, weather, it had been a grand autumn hike

Built around 1200, Helmsley Castle was visited on the final day on trail. It had a chequered history but Three Points of the Compass was especially taken with the fact that the central courtyard was a tennis court for the local gentry for a number of years

Built around 1200, Helmsley Castle was visited on the final day on trail. It has a chequered history but Three Points of the Compass was especially taken with the fact that the central courtyard was a tennis court for the local gentry for a number of years

The Cleveland Way: Days 4 to 7, Margrove Park to Filey

Staithes is reached on the first day of the coastal section of the Cleveland Way

Staithes is reached on the first day of the coastal section of the Cleveland Way

Day 4- Margrove Park to Runswick Bay

My pitch at Margrove camping and caravan site had been ‘OK’ but the rain continued throughout the night. Dry, warm and snug inside my tent, I didn’t sleep well for some reason. I also struggled to enjoy my breakfast but that is nothing new for me. I am still on the search for something I enjoy ‘out of the starting gate’ when on trail. I get bored very quickly with porridge or granola and often feel a bit queasy. Yet recognise the need for slow burning carbs first thing. What seems to work best for me is to skip food first thing and eat bars within the first couple of hours while hiking. My pint of tea was, as always, very much appreciated. Today’s section was a good deal shorter, just 16.8 miles to cover so I tried to doze a little longer and was away fairly late at a little before ten.

Impressive 19th century Saltburn Viaduct is walked under on the approach to Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Impressive 19th century Saltburn Viaduct is walked under on the approach to Saltburn-by-the-Sea

My body felt good today and I was able to maintain good positivity and enthusiasm. Such an outlook is vital on trail. Not only would I be reaching the coast today but I also knew it would be raining hard for much of the time. I followed gentle farmland and woodland tracks, then beside the Skelton Beck it wasn’t too long before I reached the outskirts of Saltburn-by-the-Sea. Having walked under the brick railway viaduct, built 1872, I paused to discuss it with a couple of locals, one an amateur historian who was both proud and knowledgeable about the early mining history of the area. The historic discovery of Iron Stone in the nearby hills bought work, prosperity and the railways to the area. The stone is evident in the ground as you walk.

Excellent haddock and chips are to be had in Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Excellent haddock and chips are to be had in Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Victorian Saltburn looked pleasant enough but the heavens opened. I doubt it could have rained any harder if it tried. Making my way down to the coast I sought lunchtime refuge in the first (and only) chippy I passed. I walked in dripping and unpeeled my sodden pack and outer clothes. Tucked away at the end of the cafe the staff pointedly ignored the growing pool of water beneath my table as it drained off me and continued to bring me pots of tea while I tucked my meal away and waited for the deluge to cease outside.

Beyond my lunchtime halt I had no need to pause any longer and was soon walking up on to the cliffs for the next part of my trail. The Cleveland Way really is a walk of two halves. The first part loops up and round the edge of the North York Moors, following the Cleveland Hills. Then, leaving the moorlands, the coast is reached at Saltburn and the trail completely alters. I was now going to follow the coast southeast to Filey. The coastline rises and dips along its length, edges are crumbling and dodgy in places. Winds can threaten to throw you over the edge and muddy slippery tracks add to the fun. I was looking forward to it.

Now garbed in hard shell and rain skirt, I climbed the cliffs and left Saltburn-by-the-Sea behind me

Now garbed in hard shell and rain skirt, I climbed the cliffs and left Saltburn-by-the-Sea behind me

The trail wanders up and down the cliffs. Some sections bring you right down to sea level before climbing back up

The trail wanders up and down the cliffs. Some sections bring you right down to sea level before climbing back up. The clouds were heavy with rain and the wind picked up, bringing passing inconsistent squalls

Beside the trade in minerals and ore, the villages along the coast have maintained a small yet important fishing industry. Though much reduced today, a pride in this heritage persists

Beside the trade in minerals and ore, the villages along the coast have maintained a small yet important fishing industry. Though much reduced today, a pride in this heritage persists

Erosion of the cliffs is constant. Some sections of path have had to be re-routed where the original path has disappeared over the edge

Erosion of the cliffs is constant. Some sections of path have had to be re-routed where the original path has disappeared over the edge

I reached Staithes in the afternoon. This is such a pretty place with steep streets, winding narrow alleys and clusters of old buildings. Unbelievably picturesque, it must draw photographers and artists in their droves. Again, I had no need to halt beyond taking a few photos, so passed through and continued the trail. But this would have been a lovely place to stop the night.

Crossing the Staithes Beck in to town on my first day on the coastal path

Crossing the Staithes Beck in to town on my first day on the coastal path

As it was, I only had three or four miles to that nights halt at Runswick Bay but had to get a bit of a shift on as daylight was fading. When I reached it, the outskirts of the little town felt odd, a bit run down, as many parts of the coast are. Once I had finally found the hidden driveway entrance to my campsite I walked in to the huge site. I arrived late and reception was closed but I had already paid and was pre-booked in, a note on the window instructed me to pitch just about anywhere on the almost empty site. There were no other hikers, no tents of any description and just a few camper vans. I got the impression as the evening drew on and through the night that many people were coming in late, hooking up to electric supply, using the facilities and vacating without paying, before the site managers arrived in the morning.

I pitched close by the shower block with shelter from the wind. I was the only one there with no other campers within at least two hundred metres yet two late arrivals decided to park close by, with consequent slamming of doors, music and chatter for a few hours. Having made good use of the clean shower block, I changed into ‘town garb’ and walked down to the Runswick Bay Hotel to enjoy a couple of fairly indifferent pints of Cumberland Ale and an equally average and overpriced trio of sausages, mash and peas, complete with uncooked onion in gravy. Nonetheless, I was hungry and it was all appreciated. Back to the tent for ten for a good nights kip. No rain forecast tonight.

Pitch at Runswick Bay

Pitch at Runswick Bay

Day 5- Runswick Bay to Robin Hoods Bay

Beermat from the Helmsley Brewing Co. celebrates the fiftieth birthday of the Cleveland Way in 2019

Beermat from the Helmsley Brewing Co. celebrates the fiftieth birthday of the Cleveland Way in 2019

Having slept well, the campsite being silent for much of the night, I rose at six as I wanted to get away fairly promptly. Perhaps because I had started pretty fast in the beginning part of the trail and I was lacking ‘hill fitness’ I was feeling a little weary on the climbs. I also hadn’t been sleeping well consistently which can have a gradual debilitating effect. I knew I had a bit of ascent to complete today despite only being a 15.9 mile section and wanted to give myself plenty of time to take it steady and continue enjoying my trail. The Cleveland Way was shaping up to be a superb walk. You could look on it as a mini Pennine Way as there are some similarities. It would make excellent training for that great trail, completed by Three Points of the Compass in 2018.

Day 5. Leaving Runswick Bay behind

Day 5. Leaving Runswick Bay behind

I skipped breakfast with the expectation of finding some later in the morning. Down into the quiet streets of Runswick. It has endured tragedy in the past. The entire village slipped into the sea in 1664 and the new red roofed houses were rebuilt further back. The tide was out so I was able to walk along the sands, past the boat club to the second ravine where I climbed back to the top of the cliffs.This section of coast endured considerable mining for Alum and the scars of the former industry are frequently visible particularly at Kettleness where the extensive alum workings, derelict railway and tunnels can be seen. Greatly enjoying my walk along here I followed the old cinder trackbed into Sandsend where I at last had a brekkie of sausage and bacon roll with pot of tea at the Tides cafe.

19 foot tall Whalebone Arch framed my arrival at Whitby

19 foot tall Whalebone Arch on West Cliff framed my arrival at Whitby

Beyond Sandsend it was less than a couple of hours to Whitby and despite my late breakfast I had a particular place in mind for lunch. I have visited Whitby a few times over the years and one restaurant is a favourite of mine, with good reason as the traditional Magpie Cafe enjoys a reputation that extends far beyond the town boundaries. I arrived at midday and remarkably there was no queue as yet. I tentatively approached the desk and enquired as to a table for one. Very conscious that I was mud daubed, didn’t smell too good, was unshaven and not the clientele they probably desired. The staff never batted an eyelid. Showed me to a prime window table that I declined, preferring to tuck myself and my pack away in a corner, hopefully unobtrusive to the lunchtime crowd out for enjoyment not tribulation.

The fantastic Magpie Cafe- an unmissable lunchtime halt

The fantastic Magpie Cafe- an unmissable lunchtime halt

The YHA maintain a public cafe near Whitby Abbey. Bram Stoker's Dracula features on their handstamp

The YHA maintain a public cafe near Whitby Abbey. Bram Stoker’s Dracula features on their handstamp

Lunch was Whitby Scampi, mixed salad plus pints of beer and water. Really enjoyed this and exited to find expectant diners queuing down the steps and along the street. The seaside town was heaving with visitors and its continued fishing industry is very apparent, though obviously diminished from its previous heyday. There is a strong literary tradition here and when I visited in the past it was hosting the bi-annual Whitby Goth weekend which is both odd and fascinating.

I crossed the River Esk via the swingbridge and climbed East Cliff via the 199 steps to the prominent ruins of Whitby Abbey. This was the third Abbey I had explored on the Cleveland Way and it enjoys a very good explanatory museum where I spent probably more time than I could afford. But, I’m on holiday….

The Cleveland Way brushes right past Whiby Abbey and Three Points of the Compass took time off from trail to explore

The Cleveland Way brushes right past Whitby Abbey and Three Points of the Compass took time off from trail to explore. A monastery was founded at Streanæshealh (the original name for Whitby)  in AD 657

The afternoon miles came slowly but the good coastal walking still led me to an arrival at Hook House farm campsite just a little after five. I was invited by Gill into her farmhouse for a cup of tea but politely declined as I wanted time to set camp, shower and enjoy the view of gathering dusk over Robin Hoods Bay below. There was thick rolling mist but this gradually cleared and while standing eating tonight’s lentil curry, I watched a Barn Owl quartering the field beside me. The sky was filled with stars, a satellite passed overhead, various town lights far below were lit then gradually extinguished. It was a lovely night.

Farm pitch gave a view over Robin Hoods Bay

Farm pitch gave a great view over Robin Hoods Bay when the mist cleared

Day 6- Robin Hoods Bay to Scarborough

I slept pretty well until the wind built and heavy rain passed through, this cleared by dawn however and I rose at six-forty five. For some reason my phone had lost almost all battery charge overnight so I put my Anker powerbank on for a couple of hours charge before leaving as I was unsure what opportunity for this would present itself over the next few days. As it was, once I had packed and was ready to clamber out and strike tent, the rain started hammering it down. With just 13.7 miles to complete today I thought what the heck, put the stove on and enjoyed a further two pints of tea eating spoonfuls of peanut butter while I waited for it to pass.

With a low tide, it is easy walking out of Robin Hoods Bay at the foot of the cliffs

At low tide, it is easy walking out of Robin Hoods Bay at the foot of the cliffs

Rain halted at nine thirty and I packed and left the site. Needless to say it started up again immediately and that was the pattern of things for the remainder of the day. Reaching the lowest part of the road before the sea, I checked with a couple of fishermen working at loading their small craft. Actually, one was doing all the work while his mate sat in the boat doing nothing but direct activities. Assured that I had a couple of hours walking and wouldn’t get stranded at the foot of the cliffs with a rising tide, I was able to keep low and walk to Stoupe Beck where I then had to climb the cliffs to carry on. A fit young lad that had been digging for lugworm strode past me up the steps, wearing wellingtons and carrying a bucket and spade, he was travelling at a rate of knots that I can only dream about. I asked if the bait was for him or for sale- “too much like hard work for sale”.

Visiting the disused Coastguard Lookout station near the World War II Ravenscar Radar Station

Visiting the disused Coastguard Lookout station near the World War II Ravenscar Radar Station

There are a number of climbs along this section (needless to say), and a stiff climb inland past abandoned alum works and Ravenscar brick works. I left the trail briefly here for a couple of hundred metres to visit the Ravenscar tearoom for lunch- Two pots of tea, bacon sandwich followed by quiche and beans. All very good and I exited to bright sun. Though that never lasted and heavy rain squalls passed for most of the afternoon. Little toads crossed my path frequently. I paused beside a wire fence briefly and rested my poles against it. A previously unseen hare shot out from beneath them and crossed the field.

Easy walking in parts but the grassy slopes like ice after the heavy rain

Easy walking in parts but the grassy slopes are like ice after the heavy rain

This was an autumn walk and fungi were much in evidence

This was an autumn walk and fungi were much in evidence

Most of the paths were pretty slippery after the heavy rain, none more so than the big descent and rise at the Hayburn Wkye hollow. It would have been very easy to come a cropper here and I slowed right down in order to remain upright. I took the very short side trail to see the little waterfall that drops to the beach here but it is hardly worth the additional effort. I wasn’t actually going as far as the town of Scarborough today. Instead I turned off inland shortly before it to go to the smart Camping & Caravanning site at Scalby Mills. I received the usual friendly welcome these sites are known for and was told there was a problem with my previous online booking and payment. I was then refunded much of my payment and given a special ‘backpackers’ rate that is not shown online. Ray showed me to a pitch but when I enquired if there was anywhere more sheltered, he then took me to a lovely quiet little pitch away from all disturbance and well sheltered, I also got exclusive use of a family bathroom block nearby. Result!

Tent up, gear sorted, showered and clean. Did some laundry and hung it to dry over the radiators in the bathroom. I had a short day tomorrow to the trail end and it was time for a decent meal. The Stonehouse Carvery is quite close to the site and a side gate from the campsite led straight to the rear of the pub. I enjoyed the basic carvery priced at £6.99 and returned twice for extra veg. I also managed to bag the only table that had a nearby plug socket so charged my phone and powerbank while eating. A couple of pints of Black Sheep and a bottle of Shiraz saw me mellow and re-hydrated. Back to the tent for a good nights kip.

Pitched at Scalby Mills Camping & Caravanning site

Pitched at Scalby Mills Camping & Caravanning site

Day 7- Scarborough to Filey

Breakfast on the final day on the Cleveland Way

Breakfast on the final day on the Cleveland Way

I slept well and this was my final day on the Cleveland Way. With just 11.9 miles to do, I made a leisurely start. Breakfast of tinned beans and corned beef (purchased from the site shop) along with lashings of tea with real milk. I was returning to this site after today’s hike so was travelling light. The pack and tent and almost all gear remained at Scalby Mills and I simply carried my Z Packs chest pouch packed with Patagonia windshirt, mapbook, Cicerone guidebook, journal and pen, phone and camera, full water bottle and some money. I was away from site for nine thirty and through the outskirts of Scarborough to the promenade. Though very run down in parts, Scarborough retains a lot of character and I enjoyed my unencumbered walk amongst the crowds. Beach huts were newly and brightly painted. Despite the crowds, the mini-golf looked tired and the promenade mini-railway unused.

Busy fishing harbour at Scarborough

Busy fishing harbour at Scarborough

Three Points of the Compass had a treat in store today. A fan of working Victorian engineering and funicular railways in particular. Scarborough is well served, though not to the extent that it once was. With a town at the top of the cliffs, a way had to be found to encourage visitors to the bottom and steep cliff railways, or funicular, were built. There used to be five and two remain working today. My first was the Central Tramway, opened in 1880 and operating from 1 August 1881. I paid my £2 and enjoyed a return trip up and down. The operators seemed a little bemused by my almost immediate return to the bottom.

Art deco decoration in 1932 the replacement cars on the Central Tramway

Art deco decoration in the 1932 replacement cars on the Central Tramway

South Cliff Lift funicular railway ticket

South Cliff Lift funicular railway ticket

Funicular railway at Scarborough

Descending on the UK’s oldest funicular railway at Scarborough

Just a short way on from here is the St Nicholas Cliff Lift operating from 1929, both cars are now permanently parked at the top and form part of the cafe there. Again, just a short way further on is the first funicular built in Scarborough, opened in 1875. This was also the first funicular built in the UK. This is the South Cliff Lift and I paid my £1.60 return journey and went up, pottered around for a few photos and back down to the base. Though older, this is a tattier affair than the Central. I doubt there is much money to be made here and little to pay out on expensive restoration. Still, a bit of thrill for me.

At the end of the promenade it was a walk back up to the cliff tops and onward. Good walking, lots of day trippers, some rain showers, both light and heavy, the wind quite strong and threatening to push me off the cliff edge. Though I was only carrying a windshirt which eventually wetted out, I was warm beneath this. I dropped down to Cayton Bay for lunch. Two mugs of tea and a massive cheeseburger were £8.60. The weather really kicked in for the afternoon all the way to the stone sculpture at Filey Brigg. A couple of people paused from battling the elements during their brief walk from their car to take my ‘triumphant’ photo. The rain briefly cleared off and I then walked out to the end, the tide was in so thankfully I didn’t have to brave Brigg End.

The end

The end

That may have been the end of the Cleveland Way but I still had to get back to Scarborough. The stone sculpture not only marks the end of the Cleveland Way but also the beginning of the Yorkshire Wolds Way. So I followed the acorn markers for this path down into Filey where I caught a bus back to Scarborough. Yet again, it was bucketing down outside. Changing buses outside the railway station for another that took me back to my campsite. Once back at the site, another welcome shower and into insulation layers as the temperature had dropped. Back down to the Stonehouse for another carvery and bottle of Shiraz. Not only was I celebrating my successful completion of the Cleveland Way, but I was stacking up calories before hiking out again the following day. My aim was to follow the 50 mile Tabular Hills walk back to my start point at Helmsley.

The Cleveland Way- fifty years old in 2019

The Cleveland Way: Days 1 to 3, Helmsley to Margrove Park

View from the western edge of the North York Moors across the plains to the Pennines

View from the western edge of the North York Moors across the plains to the Pennines

The journey from Kings Cross to York had been uneventful. I had just a few minutes before boarding the packed Trans Pennine Express to Scarborough. After inquiring at the nearby Info Centre, I was directed the 100m to the correct bus shelter and hadn’t long to wait, alongside my aged and heavily laden fellow passengers, for the No.128 to Helmsley Market Square. It was still mid afternoon when I arrived at the pretty town but market stallholders were already packing up. Straight into the Co-op for a packet of curry powder for the week, then a wander down through the town to try and find the Helmsley Brewing Company. I was determined to find a suitable pint for my send off, for the next day would see me setting off across the North York Moors on the 110 mile Cleveland Way.

pulling my pint of the excellent 4% ‘Striding the Ridge’ ale at the Helmsley Brewing Company, closely followed by pints of their best-selling 4.2% Howardian Gold and 5.5% H!PA IP

Pulling my pint of the excellent 4% ‘Striding the Ridge’ ale at the Helmsley Brewing Company, closely followed by pints of their best-selling 4.2% Howardian Gold and 5.5% H!PA IP

The Grade II listed monument to the second Baron Feversham in Helmsley market square

The Grade II* listed monument to the second Baron Feversham in Helmsley market square, c1867

I arrived at Helmsley Youth Hostel before it opened at five, two long distance cyclists were already outside, lounging on the grass. When-o-when will the YHA begin opening their hostels earlier. They are trailing in the wake of dozens of independent hostels by continuing this outdated practice.

Inside, warden Katherene was already frazzled, short-staffed, and I decided it wasn’t the time to winge about being kept outside in the cold but dry and sunny courtyard for just fifteen minutes. I shared a single sex dorm room with just two other occupants- a young lad and an older hiker who turned up later that evening. Having showered and carried out a last check of gear, including filling water bottles in readiness, a short walk back into town to look for a chippie. The first I passed was open but had no trade, the second, nearer the town square was heaving. I decided this was the evening rush and went back down to the brewery for another pint of excellent Striding the Ridge. I regarded this almost as a duty as this is the ‘official beer of the Cleveland Way’ and a donation is made to the trail with every pint sold. The chippy was a little quieter when I returned so I was able to sit at the foot of the imposing memorial to the Second Baron Feversham in the darkening market square and enjoy haddock, chips and mushy peas, watching the bats circling around the floodlit stone picking off the odd moth.

Helmsley Youth Hostel

Helmsley Youth Hostel

Day 1- Helmsley to Osmotherley

Leaving Helmsley it is easy walking on gentle paths through rural landscape with the moors still ahead

Leaving Helmsley it is easy walking on gentle paths through rural landscape with the moors still ahead

I was abed by ten and slept well before rising at six thirty. I had ordered a cooked breakfast so that I could set off well-fortified but this was barely adequate fare. Made up for by my snaffling a breakfast banana and some mini cheeses for later. I still didn’t manage to set off until eight thirty. Walking back through town, the Saturday morning was sunny and sleepy with few people, mostly the odd dog walker. Two of whom were kind enough to pause and take my obligatory ‘start of trail’ photo. Out of town and immediately on to good grassy paths, a few gentle ups and downs.

Every now and then there were reminders that the Cleveland Way was celebrating its fiftieth birthday in 2019

Every now and then there were reminders that the Cleveland Way was celebrating its fiftieth birthday in 2019

This was a cool late autumn walk and I was only wearing shorts and a polo shirt yet I was already sweating with my load on the modest climbs. Hundreds of pheasants whirred away from me, the ‘chit, chit, chit’ of nuthatches rung out and squirrels scolded me. Life was good and happy to be there I determined to get as much from the trail as I could. This included the diversion from the line on the map and the short walk up the valley to visit medieval Rievaulx Abbey. I am baffled by the trail walkers that do not bother to make this visit. This is one of the prettiest ever of ruined Abbeys and it is in an idyllic setting.

I arrived before it opened at ten but simply spent a few minutes hydrating outside waiting for it to open. The ticket desk minded my pack while I quickly wandered the site. Having sated my cultural self, at least for now, it was then time to sate my inner self with a swift pot of tea in the cafe. Topped up water bottles and back on trail for eleven.

Museum of the moon installed within the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey

The seven metre wide Museum of the moon installed within the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey

Feeling strong I was keeping up a good pace on the easy paths and lanes, passing a couple of day walkers on trail and a large and noisy group. Ever curious, I poked my nose over the wriggly tin entrance to an isolated barn near Cold Kirby and frightened the life out of a few dozen pigs inside, their squeals followed me down the track. A couple of rats startled in turn by the pigs squeezed their way out of the barn and led my way for a few hundred metres down trail before turning round and running back between my feet.

James Herriot proclaimed that standing on Sutton Bank offered the 'Finest View in England'

James Herriot proclaimed that standing on Sutton Bank offered the ‘Finest View in England’

I arrived at the busy North York Moors National Park Centre at Sutton Bank in time for a late lunch. This is a popular spot and has w/c and cafe alongside an information centre and inevitable shop. Backtracking not far from here trail walkers can enjoy rubbish views of just part of the head of the Kilburn White Horse cut in 1857 and measuring 96m by 69m. From Sutton Bank it was a great walk round the escarpment. The reputed “finest view in England” is not, but is certainly a fine vista. From here it was up onto the lonely moors, now beginning to get a flavour of the North York Moors proper.

Despite my narrower Osprey Exos proving uncomfortable with the heavier load being carried, the Cleveland Way paths are invariably good and easily traversed

Despite my narrower Osprey Exos proving uncomfortable with the heavier load being carried, the Cleveland Way paths are invariably good and easily traversed

Worryingly, the stony paths were beginning to bother my feet through my Altra’s, also my Osprey pack’s hipbelt was beginning to rub. The first problem I dealt with by removing my orthotics, risky  but necessary, the latter bothered me throughout the trail. Uncomfortable but not debilitating. I hadn’t got round to replacing my Gossamer Gear Mariposa at that point and the narrower hipbelt on my Osprey Exos can be uncomfortable on my wide hips. Especially when carrying heavier loads and on this first day I still had six days of food on my back.

View from the escarpment

View from the escarpment as my first day on trail draws on

I had been halting a few times, at the Abbey, Sutton Bank and a few breathers en route, so I obviously hadn’t been making speedy progress but when I reached the high and lonely High Barn, I was still shocked to see a sign reading ‘9 miles to Osmotherley’, it was time to get a move on. The trail was lovely though, the sun sank in the sky and I had to tilt my Tilley hat brim to reduce the sideways glare. A stiff cold breeze turned up to accompany me as I approached Osmotherly. I was not too pleased with a final series of steeper ups and downs and I was now running out of steam. I walked down to the large Cote Ghyll Mill hostel as dark began to fall having completed just under 23 miles on my first day.

YHA Cote Ghyll

YHA Cote Ghyll

YHA handstamp from my trail journal

YHA handstamp from my trail journal

The owners of the neighbouring award wining campsite snapped up the large old mill when the YHA sold it about five and a half years ago, they then carried on running it as a YHA. There were two other beds booked in my single sex dorm room but no-one else had turned up. Excellent and appreciated shower then down to the kitchen for re-hydrating and salt replenishment with hot OXO and a pint of water, followed by a lentil curry with Idahoan mash. While that was cooking I went on the hunt for a couple of bottles of beer from the mill reception. These were excellent ‘Three Brothers Thai’ IPA which went well with my curry.

Day 2- Osmotherley to Lord Stones

Felt good in the morning. No aches, feet good. A good nights kip had worked its magic. Today was a very short day of less than ten miles as I wanted time to visit Grace Priory. Not open until ten and situated just beyond Osmotherley I therefore had a late start at nine-thirty. Few hikers on the Cleveland Way bother to visit Grace Priory and I can somewhat understand why as it is a hell of a drop down off the height gained with the prospect of toiling back up hill afterward. But still, I was out to see what I could so made the steady drop down the contours, all very close together on the map. Mount Grace Priory is a lovely Carthusian monastry with interesting two storey monks cells, each with its own little garden that the monks could tend without going outside and disturbing their solitary existence.

Founded in 1398, Mount Grace Priory is the best preserved of the nine medieval Carthusian charter houses in England

Founded in 1398, Mount Grace Priory is the best preserved of the nine medieval Carthusian charter houses in England

I was again asked by those minding the till and shop if I would like them to look after my pack while I visited but I declined this time as I had a plan in mind. The map showed tracks beyond the Priory that led back up the hill. The staff I met never told me how to access these, nor was I taken outside and had the way pointed out to me as it is through private woodland and that would be wrong. So having wandered and explored the ruins, church and cells, I never ducked through the gardens and trees, not did I walk back up the hill on private tracks to where the Coast to Coast Path joins the Cleveland Way.

The Coast to Coast joins the Cleveland Way for a few miles of its length and the number of walkers seen increases as a result. Care must be taken to not wander from the correct path

The Coast to Coast joins the Cleveland Way for a few miles of its length and the number of walkers seen increases as a result. Care must be taken to not wander from the correct path

The sky clouded and it became quite warm and muggy. On climbs I began to find some of the ‘sting in the tail’ that the Cleveland Way occasionally exhibits, especially that up to Round Hill where I was more than ready for my lunchtime halt of tuna and tortillas. Here, on my second day, I met a couple preparing for their forthcoming Great Glen Way walk, this was their fourth day on trail since leaving Helmsley. There is no ‘right’ way to tackle a path but that was probably taking it easy to extremes.

At last- on to the Moors

At last- on to the Moors, flagged paths through the heather

Approaching Lord Stones Country Park the still air was thick with flying ants, ladybirds and flies

Approaching Lord Stones Country Park the still air was thick with flying ants, ladybirds and flies

Fortunately not biting, swarming insects were annoying nonetheless

Fortunately not biting, swarming insects were annoying nonetheless

Not only was it muggy but where the air was most still, thousands of small flies, beetles and ants were swarming. When I reached one trig point I found it covered with insects and many settled themselves around and over me as I walked. The afternoons walking was short and it wasn’t long before I reached Lord Stones Country Park where I had booked a pitch for my tent. The shop there closes at four but I arrived early enough to purchase a couple of bottles of IPA for later.  Not only that, despite carrying sufficient food, I also bought a couple of locally made meat pies and a tin of beans for later- never turn down the opportunity for ‘real’ food.

I was the only one booked in so had the pick of the pitches. Light rain started and heavier was promised for later. Darkness fell and I made my way back down to the site restaurant that was about to close. Here I purchased a couple of pints to drink outside, sheltered from the now heavy rain under a huge parasol. placed there for daytime diners. Returning to the tent, I heated up my evening meal to enjoy with one of the bottles of beer. On returning to my tent afterwards having washed my Evernew pan I was surprised to find a latecomer had pitched up across the small field from me. I hailed the occupant and the two of us stood in the heavy rain chatting about all things trails. Chas and Molly, his little dog, were on the last section of their Coast to Cost walk, expecting to reach Robin Hood’s Bay the following day. All right for food, he bemoaned the lack of a nearby pub as he was craving a drink. I was pleased to donate my last bottle of beer ‘to the cause’. Returning to the tent I watched a film on my phone, chatted to home and turned in early. The rain continued outside.

Chas and little Molly were section hiking the Coast to Coast path

Chas and little Molly were section hiking the Coast to Coast path

Day 3- Lord Stones to Margrove Park

I rose at daylight but had a leisurely breakfast, again finding time for a natter with my neighbour who left before me on their final day. I was packed and away for eight-thirty. The rain had stopped but mist swirled around the dips and hollows. The trail was really pretty along this stretch with enjoyable climbs. A Merlin swept past, later, a good deal louder, an RAF jet also streaked down a valley.

Day two and grand walking in the North York Moors

Day three and grand walking in the North York Moors

I passed Wain Stones, pausing briefly to recall my last time here. Some five years earlier, my wife, daughter and I had visited here on a day walk while holidaying locally. I saw a sign for the Cleveland Way on that day and looking around at the beautiful surroundings, vowed that I would walk the trail someday. Here, on the trail’s fiftieth birthday I was finally doing it.

Three Points of the Compass when last visiting the Wain Stones in 2014

Three Points of the Compass when last visiting the Wain Stones in 2014

Red Grouse on the Cleveland Way, 2019

Red Grouse on the Cleveland Way, 2019

Red Grouse were frequently seen, most noisily flapped away on my approach, scolding me as they left. On sandy tracks I could frequently get quite close before they noticed me. When they did, they leapt in the air in desperate fright before going just far enough that they could land on a bit of higher ground, and, bending low, creep through the heather while keeping an eye on me. One bird however wasn’t having any of it. It was his bit of land and he wanted me away from there. He never flew. Instead, he stood his ground as I approached. Raised his tail and made a number of charges toward me. I gently fended him away with my trekking pole but  he continued to escort me away from his patch. A brave fellow, I left him to it.

The sweeping horseshoe trail followed for much of the day

The sweeping horseshoe high level trail followed for much of the day

The 18th century Guide Stone was a welcome aid to those traversing the moorlands in the mist

The 18th century Guide Stone was a welcome aid to those traversing the moorlands in the mist

Today’s walk is a grand sweeping horseshoe round the plains below. Roseberry Topping looms ahead but steadily draws nearer. I really enjoyed this days walking. The path rises and dips, but is mostly pretty easy going. The mist swirled away to elsewhere and views were grand. Barely a soul on trail. I was feeling pretty good today and pleased that a bit of the easy gait that I developed on my long walk in 2018 was still with me and I even, despite my weight gain since finishing that walk, happily jogged on a couple of easier downward stretches. Near Jenny Bradley’s Cross I left the trail briefly to visit the 18th century Guide Stone. There is a hollow on the top of this, protected by a small stone. By tradition money could be deposited here for walkers in need. I left a handful of coins with those already present.

The weather was kind to me this day but conditions can be brutal. On January 1941 a Hudson aircraft from 224 Squdron and on patrol crashed near here. The four crew, though injured, all survived the crash. In the depths of a hard winter, they all died from exposure before discovery two days later.

There is seldom the need to wildcamp on the Cleveland Way but there are some great sites where it would be possible

There is seldom the need to wildcamp on the Cleveland Way but there are some great sites where it would be possible

The 15m high Captain Cook monument on Easby Moor was reached late afternoon. Below lies Marton, a suburb of Middlesborough, where the man was born in 1728

The 15m high Captain Cook monument on Easby Moor was reached late afternoon. Below lies Marton, a suburb of Middlesborough, where the great navigator was born in 1728

I reached Roseberry Topping around six in the evening and still had another five miles to complete the days hike. I was going to be finishing in the dark. As I began the steady descent from the hills I passed an idyllic wild camp spot with shelter and a fantastic view over the plains. But it was a dry site, I had only a little water left so carried on. Tonight’s halt was a caravan site and by the time I arrived the reception was locked up and unoccupied. I wandered around a little but could find nowhere that might resemble a tent pitch. Fortunately I came across one of the site workers and Keith offered to show me where I could halt. It was a tiny patch of grass hidden away between some caravans only a few yards from the dated but perfectly adequate and spotless toilet block. He took my fiver and drove off leaving me to quickly put up my Z Packs Duplex, followed by a great hot shower and evening meal of lentil curry washed down with OXO.

Evening meal

Preparing my evening meal. I was experimenting with a new cook system on this walk and it performed faultlessly

Mrs Three Points of the Compass had presented me with a bar of good quality dark chocolate before I left and that rounded up my evening. There was no signal so I couldn’t even call her to thank her. Raining hard again while I watched a film on the phone, I was asleep by 11.30. Today had seen another 22.9 miles knocked off. Tomorrow, I would reach the coast.

Margrove Park Caravan Site, my third nights halt

Margrove Park Caravan Site, my third nights halt