TRAVEL NORTH - 31: Port Mulgrave, Staithes, Runswick and Saint Hilda's Well

Links to yesteryear

Abandoned harbour machinery gear at Port Mulgrave in 2007 - a tunnel linked the port installation with Grinkle mine a short way inland
Abandoned harbour machinery gear at Port Mulgrave in 2007 - a tunnel linked the port installation with Grinkle mine a short way inland | Source
Domesday entry for 'Hildrewelle'/''Ildrewelle' (Hinderwell) in 1086: 'Earl Hugh, William de Percy'. Stump of an old windmill, a well which St Hilda is said to have blessed in the 8th Century
Domesday entry for 'Hildrewelle'/''Ildrewelle' (Hinderwell) in 1086: 'Earl Hugh, William de Percy'. Stump of an old windmill, a well which St Hilda is said to have blessed in the 8th Century
Runswick foreshore looking east past the cliffs in the direction of Goldsborough. Violent sea storms throw up rocks and detritus. A high tidal range makes it important to check times before venturing to look for rock samples
Runswick foreshore looking east past the cliffs in the direction of Goldsborough. Violent sea storms throw up rocks and detritus. A high tidal range makes it important to check times before venturing to look for rock samples

Follow the coast walk...

On the way in from the Goldsborough road to Port Mulgrave, the National Trust oak leaf emblem denotes a site of historical interest
On the way in from the Goldsborough road to Port Mulgrave, the National Trust oak leaf emblem denotes a site of historical interest
Port Mulgrave on the Ordnance Survey map, overlooking a harbour used in WWII as defence against invasion
Port Mulgrave on the Ordnance Survey map, overlooking a harbour used in WWII as defence against invasion
The tunnel portal to the Grinkle Mine route - opened after the exhaustion of iron seams in the bay area
The tunnel portal to the Grinkle Mine route - opened after the exhaustion of iron seams in the bay area
Ammonite found on the rocks at Port Mulgrave - the Cleveland Coast is another site of scientific interest with its geology that goes back beyond the dinosaurs to Pangia (the great continent)
Ammonite found on the rocks at Port Mulgrave - the Cleveland Coast is another site of scientific interest with its geology that goes back beyond the dinosaurs to Pangia (the great continent)
The walk from Hinderwell to Port Mulgrave and Staithes in diagram form
The walk from Hinderwell to Port Mulgrave and Staithes in diagram form
Staithes Creek - Roxby Beck starts high up on the moors above Dalehouse to the west of here
Staithes Creek - Roxby Beck starts high up on the moors above Dalehouse to the west of here
Staithes Harbour from the south-east with Cat Nab (right). The shop where James Cook first worked was wrecked in a freak storm in the late 18th Century. The hill cracked in two. Harbour debris stems from then and a later 19th Century freak storm
Staithes Harbour from the south-east with Cat Nab (right). The shop where James Cook first worked was wrecked in a freak storm in the late 18th Century. The hill cracked in two. Harbour debris stems from then and a later 19th Century freak storm
Looking down into Runswick along the footpath that descends from the clifftops toward Staithes
Looking down into Runswick along the footpath that descends from the clifftops toward Staithes
Runswick, the fishing village with the white cottage at the end where Alf Wight (James Herriot) stayed on honeymoon
Runswick, the fishing village with the white cottage at the end where Alf Wight (James Herriot) stayed on honeymoon
St Hilda's Well at Hinderwell, a blessing for the poor folk who lived here in the 8th Century - she was sister to Oswald and Oswy, kings of Northumbria who fought off Penda's Mercians
St Hilda's Well at Hinderwell, a blessing for the poor folk who lived here in the 8th Century - she was sister to Oswald and Oswy, kings of Northumbria who fought off Penda's Mercians

The Staithes Iron Stone Company began operations in the mid-19th Century.

They began with building rows of cottages for the miners as well as a mine manager's house to the east. You can still see these on either side of the narrow road that leaves the A174 between Staithes and Hinderwell. In the small bay a harbour was constructed to handle the ore from Grinkle Mines for shipping to Jarrow, where it was used for ship building.

The harbour - or what's left of it - is now a watersports centre and the area is protected by The National Trust - the approach to the village is marked by its name on a National Trust sign - and the houses are still occupied (although what percentage of the occupants are descended from the harbour and mine employees is not known).

On a non-industrial level the bay is known to be a popular Jurassic site. This coastline between Whitby to the south-east and Saltburn to the north-west has an ample store of fossils, i.e., Dinosaur species, reptilian remains and much more. It is a Site of special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

A little more about the history: Sir Charles Palmer opened his first ironstone mine on part of his coastal estate at Rosedale Wyke. The coast of building the harbour here ran to £45,000, and the facilities were open for use in 1857. The harbour was built for the handling and transport by sea to Jarrow for Charles & George Palmers' blast furnaces on Tyneside. The steel made was for local shipyards ranged around the Jarrow Slake.

Originally named Port Rosedale, the harbour was renamed to avoid confusion with the upland mining area on the moors near Rosedale Abbey. The renaming to Port Mulgrave was in honour of one of the major local landlords, the Earl of Mulgrave (whose home was at Mulgrave Castle near Sandsend).

As the ironstone reserves around Port Mulgrave dwindled, Palmer opened a further mine inland on the edge of the moors at Grinkle (south of the Yorkshire village of *Easington). The ore was moved on a narrow gauge railway that crossed deep valleys on three wooden trellis viaducts and through two brick-lined tunnels to the loading gantry deck at Port Mulgrave. In 1916 the Grinkle mine was linked to the Whitby, Redcar & Middlesbrough Union Railway (WR&MUR), so the harbour was no longer needed.

A fire in the harbour destroyed the wooden gantries and in 1934 the remaining mechanical handling equipment was sold for scrap. At the beginning of WWII the north pier wall was detonated by the Royal Engineers to prevent its use by the Germans as a possible invasion landing.zone.

Nearby Hinderwell, once named 'Hilderwell' was named in honour of St Hilda, abbess of Whitby and sister of King Oswy of Northumbria. The legend goes that the village was gripped by drought at the time she passed through on her way possibly from Durham to Whitby. The local Anglians pleaded with the abbess to pray for water. Not long afterwards a spring appeared on land now owned by the church. Its waters are said to have healing qualities. The village of Hinderwell is about one mile inland from Staithes.

This walk links the village with Port Mulgrave and Staithes: start from the Serenity Caravan Park at Hinderwell and follow the lane opposite towards Port Mulgrave. At the clifftop look down on the harbour remains. The footpath - part of the well-marked Cleveland Way - veers through fields. The cliff edge is close here, so take care! Enjoy long views over the North Sea both south-eastwards and north-westwards. At low tide you can easily see the exposed strata below. The cliffs are sheer for much of the way, and keep away from the edge because underfoot is not always as solid as it looks. As you progress inland a short way you come through a farm. You have right of way, fear not. The track leads around and down to the back of the old fishing and trading port of Staithes - now just inshore fishing boats are worked from here - and a patchwork red tiled roofline presents itself as you descend steps first alongside a cliffside and then between cottages, houses and workshops. you come into the harbour at its eastern end. Turn left to see the harbour and small beach - at low tide only - as well as the breakwater at the harbour mouth. Cat Nab as you see it behind the western breakwater is what is left after a freak storm in the late 18th Century (around the time Captain Cook was cudgelled by a knobkerry wielding Hawaiian as the result of a misunderstanding). A subsequent 19th Century freak storm sucked out the roadway between the wooden baulks at the harbourside between the village and the Cod & Lobster Inn.

Whilst you are here you have a choice of break, between the Sea Drift Cafe that faces the harbour and the Cod & Lobster Inn (it survived the storm!). Firstly the Sea Drift Cafe, Seaton Garth, Staithes, Saltburn TS13 5DH offers hot and cold meals, drinks and snacks, contact them on 01947 541345. The Cod & Lobster, for those of you who might fancy a pint or something fortifying for the rest of your walk, it is at the bottom of the High Street, Staithes, TS13 5BH,

Take a good rest before embarking on the return leg. The steps up the hill will be felt on the way back to the farm at the top of the path after the steep steps. Turn and take in the ciew back into Staithes, breathe in and the going gets easier back to Port Mulgrave. You have a choice here, whether to go on to Runswick Bay or back to Hinderwell.

Going on to Runswick Bay? OK, follow the path around the cliff (I went inside the fence) and come out past the Runswick Bay Hotel. Five miles north-west of Whitby, Runswick boasts views south-east to Whitby from the headland. Here is a split-level village - as at Staithes - the Runswick Bay Hotel as I've mentioned near the end of the Hinderwell road. A number of houses and the newer part of the village sit astride the road by the road junction. One way from here leads south to Kettlewell and Lythe, the other inland to Hinderwell Across the way from the RBH is the large car and coach park, to your left is a path that leads past a row of B&B's to a footpath. Follow this winding footpath downhill, or use the roadway - your choice - but for my money the footpath is better and affords better views over the roofs of old fishermen's cottages. A narrow trackway leads to the headland with a white-painted cottage. This is where Alf Wight and his new bride Helen spent part of their honeymoon in the late 1930s. Alf Wight? James Herriot is the name you probably know him by.

The Runswick Bay Cafe behind the coastguard post and lifeboat house serves satisfying snacks (how's that for alliteration?) and meals to hungry walkers and tourists.

Sea defences were rebuilt in the late 1990s, and the boat rampart is in constant use, so watch out for regular users if you go down to the beach this way. Again, take care to consult notice boards or locals about tides. Runswick Bay has frequently been awarded the ENCAMUS Seaside Award and when appropriate the blue and yellow flag should be heeded!

The walk back to Hinderwell is about as long/short as it would be from Port Mulgrave or Staithes. There is also a bus service, the Arriva X56 from Guisborough via Loftus to Whitby stops at the road junction on the Hinderwell road.

Other pubs in Staithes, Hinderwell and Runswick:

The Royal George, High Street, Staithes, 01947 841432, www.royalgeorgestaithes.co.uk ;

Captain Cook Inn, 60 Staithes Lane, Staithes (top part of the village), 01947 840200;

The Badger Hounds, 39 High Street, Hinderwell, 01947 841774;

Fox & Hounds, Dalehouse, Staithes, 01947 840534;

The Royal Hotel, Runswick Bay, TS13 5HT, 0871 951 1000 in the old part of the village;

The Runswick Bay Hotel, 2 Hinderwell Lane, Runswick Bay, TS13 5HR, 01947 841010

Some web sites:

www.discovernorthyorkshire.co.uk

ww.yorkshiretravel.net/

www.weatheronline.co.uk/

www.northyorks.gov.uk/


Port Mulgrave, Staithes, North Yorkshire

A markerPort Mulgrave, Staithes, North Yorkshire -
North Yorkshire, Beck Meetings Lodge, Staithes, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire TS13 5DU, UK
[get directions]

Mine workers' cottages and mine manager's house overlook the North Sea at Port Mulgrave, where iron ore from Grinkle Mine was shipped to Tyneside

Port Mulgrave, ringed by history

Port Mulgrave - originally known as Port Rosedale - early morning looking along the cliffs toward the sunrise
Port Mulgrave - originally known as Port Rosedale - early morning looking along the cliffs toward the sunrise | Source
The view east from the footpath down to the shore - a cliff fall rendered the lower footpath impassible. However...
The view east from the footpath down to the shore - a cliff fall rendered the lower footpath impassible. However... | Source
See the blue cord on the ground? It's what the ablest use to climb up and down. This is the harbour site at low tide. Access is usually by boat....A lot easier!
See the blue cord on the ground? It's what the ablest use to climb up and down. This is the harbour site at low tide. Access is usually by boat....A lot easier! | Source
The view now in the 21st Century at ebb tide. The Royal Engineers rendered the port unfit for landing in the light of a possible German invasion in the early years of WWII
The view now in the 21st Century at ebb tide. The Royal Engineers rendered the port unfit for landing in the light of a possible German invasion in the early years of WWII | Source
An electric locomotive draws wagons from the Grinkle Mine (ironstone) at Dale Head towards the loading derrick at Port Mulgrave
An electric locomotive draws wagons from the Grinkle Mine (ironstone) at Dale Head towards the loading derrick at Port Mulgrave | Source
The wagons would be hauled onto where the stone would be discharged into hoppers that in turn discharged into holds on the coastal freighters for shipment to Tyneside - a late 19th Century view
The wagons would be hauled onto where the stone would be discharged into hoppers that in turn discharged into holds on the coastal freighters for shipment to Tyneside - a late 19th Century view | Source

A thorough guide to what to see, where to go on Yorkshire's coast. Explore the wykes, the bays, the contrasts between the long shore of Tees Bay, Whitby and Scarborough to Hornsea and Spurn Head. Well worth the outlay, even if you only sit and drool over the scenery at home with a drink at hand and your feet up.

Staithes - 'Steeaz' to the locals

Overhead view of the small harbour of Staithes. This is where young James Cook developed a taste for seafaring, talking to 'old salts'
Overhead view of the small harbour of Staithes. This is where young James Cook developed a taste for seafaring, talking to 'old salts' | Source
Let's go down the steep hill from the car park. First stop at the bottom might be The Royal George, a cosy seaside inn that offers good fish'n'chip dinners
Let's go down the steep hill from the car park. First stop at the bottom might be The Royal George, a cosy seaside inn that offers good fish'n'chip dinners | Source
Nearing the seafront, the Cod & Lobster comes into view
Nearing the seafront, the Cod & Lobster comes into view | Source
Cod & Lobster Inn on the seafront at Staithes
Cod & Lobster Inn on the seafront at Staithes | Source
The blue building is the cosy Sea Drift Cafe, worth a visit if you're down this way and don'r fancy an alcoholic drink or pub meal
The blue building is the cosy Sea Drift Cafe, worth a visit if you're down this way and don'r fancy an alcoholic drink or pub meal | Source
Staithes town map. Once cut off by steep cliffs and poor roads, the only way to get around was by boat or walk long distances.
Staithes town map. Once cut off by steep cliffs and poor roads, the only way to get around was by boat or walk long distances. | Source
Look toward Cat Nab, there's 'Nessie' with a friendly wave of his flipper... Shows what you can do with a piece of washed-up timber and a bit of imagination. Lots of artists and craftfolk live here in 'Steeaz'
Look toward Cat Nab, there's 'Nessie' with a friendly wave of his flipper... Shows what you can do with a piece of washed-up timber and a bit of imagination. Lots of artists and craftfolk live here in 'Steeaz' | Source

Captain Cook Museum, 26/9/16 (that's 9/26/16 across 'the Pond')

On my way back up to the car park with time on my hands I stopped off at the Captain Cook Museum. Up a short flight of steps and into the lobby, pay a token fee on the face of it, and into a series of small rooms in what was once a sombre, stone-built three storey chapel. The little old lady who acts as curator has a mammoth task.

On three floors you see newspaper clippings, photographs of local people linked to fishing and the lifeboat service. Men here - as at Whitby and elsewhere along this coast - have given their lives to save others from when the first rowed lifeboats were launched (virtually back to the time of Grace Darling). It's all here, along with links to James Cook who came here in the summer of 1745. He was apprenticed at the age of 16 to the shopkeeper William Sanderson, (whose premises were close to Cat Nab when it was longer, before a freak storm after Cook's death snapped the cliff in half and took the shop as well as a few other premises with it). Befriending sailors and fishermen, he hankered after a life at sea and went to Whitby to work for the ship owner John Walker the following autumn, 1746. History was in the making when delivering coal in Limehouse, London eight years later, June 1755 he volunteered for the Royal Navy.

You won't want to go there if I tell you any more. Seeing's believing. I suggested adding a cafe room, at which she smiled and nodded. Who knows...

Railways as they were before the late 1950s and as they are now. The coastal railway between Loftus and Whitby West Cliff closed in 1958, others followed until the mid-60's after the Beeching Report recommended further cuts. In the end the network was cut by more than half.

Railways Around Whitby

Staithes station and viaduct, Runswick, and Hinderwell Station

Staithes Station on last day of operation in 1958 - BR Standard Class 4 2-6-4T  80118 awaits the 'off'' towards Middlesbrough or Darlington
Staithes Station on last day of operation in 1958 - BR Standard Class 4 2-6-4T 80118 awaits the 'off'' towards Middlesbrough or Darlington | Source
Staithes viaduct, of  tubular steel built for  the extension of the line from Loftus to Whitby - a wind gauge mounted at this end measured the force of winds off the sea. If it read too high passengers had to detrain and take the bus onward to Loftus
Staithes viaduct, of tubular steel built for the extension of the line from Loftus to Whitby - a wind gauge mounted at this end measured the force of winds off the sea. If it read too high passengers had to detrain and take the bus onward to Loftus | Source
A short but comprehensive  paperback history of the line, the Whitby, Redcar & Middlesbrough Union Railway (WR&MUR), a grand title for the line that extended from Loftus to Whitby via West Cliff Station and Prospect Hill - I  have a copy on my shelf
A short but comprehensive paperback history of the line, the Whitby, Redcar & Middlesbrough Union Railway (WR&MUR), a grand title for the line that extended from Loftus to Whitby via West Cliff Station and Prospect Hill - I have a copy on my shelf | Source
A schematic plan of the line (as was) along the coast with dramatic views for passengers to Whitby. See the bottom map for road links as they are now.
A schematic plan of the line (as was) along the coast with dramatic views for passengers to Whitby. See the bottom map for road links as they are now. | Source
Hinderwell Station around the turn of the 20th Century. A Fletcher NER Bogie Tank Passenger 0-4-4 has a porthole brake 3rd carriage at either end
Hinderwell Station around the turn of the 20th Century. A Fletcher NER Bogie Tank Passenger 0-4-4 has a porthole brake 3rd carriage at either end
Building Kettleness tunnel on a new heading was necessary for the NER on taking over the line after it met with financial difficulties. John 'Paddy' Waddell the original engineer had built the line too close to the cliff edge
Building Kettleness tunnel on a new heading was necessary for the NER on taking over the line after it met with financial difficulties. John 'Paddy' Waddell the original engineer had built the line too close to the cliff edge | Source
Runswick Bay along the coast from Staithes towards Whitby
Runswick Bay along the coast from Staithes towards Whitby | Source
Runswick seafront with a comfortable harbourside cafe at the head of the ramp
Runswick seafront with a comfortable harbourside cafe at the head of the ramp | Source
Yorkshire Cobles drawn up onto the strand - these boats are built in the same manner as Viking ships, from keel up
Yorkshire Cobles drawn up onto the strand - these boats are built in the same manner as Viking ships, from keel up | Source

Across the county between the Vale of Mowbray and the Sea. Moor, dale and coast from Osmotherley to Whitby west to east, Saltburn to Whitby north-west to south-east. Let John Leyland guide you through the north-east corner of North Yorkshire

Rail links in the Midlands and North of England to Scotland
Rail links in the Midlands and North of England to Scotland | Source
North Yorkshire and the east coast
North Yorkshire and the east coast | Source

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Comments 2 comments

Mariele 4 years ago

Super hub! Love your descriptions and photos. The only thing I wish you'd done is given us Americans a map of the British Isles to get an idea of where it is. Not knowing the surrounding area, it's hard to imagine where in the country this beautiful place sits. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Hello Mariele, On image 11 of the Whitby area there's an inset map of mainland Britain, on the right-hand site of which is a red dot that marks the area. Middlesbrough is within a half hour by rail from Teesside Airport, recently renamed 'Durham Tees Valley'. Whitby can be reached by rail from Middlesbrough and Hinderwell is only a few miles north of Whitby - or the X56 coach from Middlesbrough drops you off at Hinderwell. Travelling from York the area is within about 90 minutes drive taking the A64 north-east to just north of Malton, where the A169 leads to Pickering and Whitby beyond via the southern Moors. Outside Whitby turn right and on to a roundabout with a filling station on the corner. A left turn there takes you to Whitby West Cliff and the A174. There's a bit of a climb from Sandsend to Lythe but the road from there is straightforward to Hinderwell, following a wide rightward bend near Ellerby. Hinderwell's got ample parking, or you can drive on to the large grass car park Runswick.

Whichever way you go it's a bit round about, worth it all the same when you get there! I'll 'dig up' my regional connections map to give you a better idea and post that (there's probably scores of Brits who don't have a clue how to get there either).

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