TRAVEL NORTH - 15: COASTAL WALK, Saltburn Gill to the Clifftops

Inshore fishing vessels on Saltburn seafront looking towards Huntcliffe past Old Saltburn (the Ship Inn is the nearesr building with the white end wall
Inshore fishing vessels on Saltburn seafront looking towards Huntcliffe past Old Saltburn (the Ship Inn is the nearesr building with the white end wall | Source

From the low-lying village of Saltburn

Cliff Lift railway at Saltburn with shortened pier beyond the old amusement arcade
Cliff Lift railway at Saltburn with shortened pier beyond the old amusement arcade
Starting point at Cat Nab car park below New Saltburn. Cross the footbridge and take the steady incline past the Italian Gardens.
Starting point at Cat Nab car park below New Saltburn. Cross the footbridge and take the steady incline past the Italian Gardens.
Ornamental portico rebuilt in the Italian Gardens at Saltburn - there's been a clean-up here to restore Saltburn's Victorian attractions
Ornamental portico rebuilt in the Italian Gardens at Saltburn - there's been a clean-up here to restore Saltburn's Victorian attractions
Saltburn cliff walk via Brotton, an invigorating circuit that brings you back to Old Saltburn and a fortifying drink, maybe a meal in the Ship Inn
Saltburn cliff walk via Brotton, an invigorating circuit that brings you back to Old Saltburn and a fortifying drink, maybe a meal in the Ship Inn | Source
Inside a Guibal Fan House, a reminder of Victorian era ironstone mining in East Cleveland - the fan-houses fed in fresh air to work in, the bad air drawn away
Inside a Guibal Fan House, a reminder of Victorian era ironstone mining in East Cleveland - the fan-houses fed in fresh air to work in, the bad air drawn away

Saltburn was an old fishing hamlet - with older smuggling connections - until Henry Pease of Stockton & Darlington fame laid out his Victorian dormitory town on

Saltburn's history evolved around fishing and - due to its relative isolation on the coast - smuggling. The lie of the land helped the smugglers for a long time until their operations were curtailed by the revenue men, backed up by the Redcoats, although the easing of taxes after the Napoleonic Wars contributed to the demise of the illicit trade. The walk in hand is strenuous, but by no means too strenuous for your average family with a range of children between the ages of about ten and fifteen.

The walk will blow the cobwebs out of your soul and invigorate you, and there are refreshment stops along the way. As a route the walk is ideal for serious walkers if they wish to take in the whole length without breaks. There are great views of the sea and countryside, starting and ending in Old Saltburn's large car park near Cat Nab. Walking distance is eight miles (13km), the going moderate at most times of the year, fairly well-drained and can take around four hours - not exactly a 'route march'.

Beginning at the car park cross the road and pass the waterworks on your left before coming to a footbridge. A sign points into Saltburn Gill Nature Reserve. After crossing the stile you follow a path that brings you high above the Gill. Steps lead to two more stiles about 170 yards (50m) apart and a footbridge leads to a pathway close to Saltburn Gill.

Follow straight ahead towards the houses on the western side of Brotton. Where the track takes you on to the A174 Whitby road turn left up the hill and pass under a railway bridge. The High Street is ahead with its Methodist church on the left. Take the steps up on the right opposite No.42 and follow the path under overhanging trees to playing fields. Keep left walk straight on through a cemetery to Kilton Lane. Cross over and turn right, then left onto Winchester Road. Follow this road to the junction with Canterbury Road and follow a walkway on the left as far as a Guibal Fan House (a large concrete structure that housed a mine ventilation fan). Cross a road and follow the track that leads gently downhill past Griggs Farm. Veer left around the edge of a golf course and cross the stile, on to a path close to the fence on the left. Bear left and over another stile. At the next stile a notice points to Cattersty Gill Nature Reserve. Head toward another stile.

Bear left away from Skinningrove along Cattersty Cliff and pass another Guibal Fan house as far as some metal sculptures. Here you follow signs for the Cleveland Way with its far-ranging views including Roseberry Topping in the distance to the south-west. The clifftop path leads toward a further stile, past which make your way down a few steps. Follow the road around to the left to reach the starting point at Cat Nab Car Park.

To get there from the south: a) take the A19 north from York/Thirsk/Northallerton; b) take the A1(M) to Scotch Corner and then the A66 east past Middlesbrough, follow signs for Redcar then Saltburn; c) take the A174 north from Whitby.

Parking: Cat Nab Car Park is on the lower promenade at Saltburn-by-the-Sea across the road from a seaside cafe and children's amusement centre. Nearby is Marske-by-the-Sea to the west with Redcar beyond. Southward is North Skelton and Brotton is up the winding gradient road to the south-east. Back at the car park cross the road to the cafe and children's amusements and turn right to the Ship Inn public house with its outside tables for a first class view eastward to Huntcliff and north-westward to Teesmouth beyond Marske-by-the-Sea, Redcar, Coatham and Warrenby.

James Cook Senior was buried in the graveyard of St Germain's Church at nearby Marske-by-the-Sea in 1772. On the road to New Marske is Marske Hall, lately a Leonard Cheshire Home just away from Marske's busy High Street. On the sea front is Cliff House, built as a hotel but more recently became a home for the elderly. There are several public houses and inns around Marske, including another Ship Inn where I stayed with my wife in 1984.

Saltburn Miniature Railway 01642 502863;

Heritage Centre Cleveland Ironstone (Tom Leonard) 01287 642877;

Ship Inn, Old Saltburn 01287 622361;

Green Tree, Brotton 01287 676377;


Public Toilets at Cat Nab Car Park close to the Brotton road;

Public Transport, phone: 0870 608 2608, or visit www.traveline-northeast.co.uk


*In Riftswood there is another pleasant walk with Italian gardens along its northern slopes. A presentable cafe serves refreshments for those of a less athletic persuasion. A miniature railway operates along the valley bottom from the mouth of the ravine to the Italian gardens in the summer season for smaller children - even for older 'children'.

Saltburn-by-the-Sea, East Cleveland, Yorkshire

A markerSaltburn-by-the-Sea, Yorkshire -
Saltburn-by-the-Sea, UK
[get directions]

Starting point of a circular walk via Brotton and Skinningrove back to Old Saltburn

Take a leisurely route through Yorkshire, across country, along the coast. Enjoy the scenery, enjoy the food and the friendly hospitality - savour Whitby's fish & chips or scampi, freshly caught that morning, the day you eat it! Take a walk across the Moors and Dales, see the biggest sheep population in England (the population of the whole of Yorkshire numbers about the same as Greater London - the sheep outnumber people in Yorkshire by about 10-1!)

Spend a while around the pier and cliff lift, take a ride up and down

Saltburn pier in its heyday, long, mean and lean - 1950s/1960s view from the outward end back to town
Saltburn pier in its heyday, long, mean and lean - 1950s/1960s view from the outward end back to town | Source
Saltburn cliff lift and pier as it is now at about half its original length - winter scene (don't do the walk in this sort of weather)
Saltburn cliff lift and pier as it is now at about half its original length - winter scene (don't do the walk in this sort of weather) | Source
'Under the boardwalk, down by the sea...'  When the tide's out.
'Under the boardwalk, down by the sea...' When the tide's out. | Source

Understand the geology of this coast, how the rocks were formed and what's in them. There are microscopic creatures, minerals and dinosaur imprints to be seen from when these islands were part of a much greater continent, Palmyra. Millions of years of development and climatic conditions played their part in the formation of Britain's strata, some iron-hard, some soft and permeable. The sea plays its part in wearing some away, wind and rain erode others.

Around Skinningrove

Skinningrove village seen from the old jetty trackbed, with the much rationalised, almost phased out steel works on the plateau behind
Skinningrove village seen from the old jetty trackbed, with the much rationalised, almost phased out steel works on the plateau behind | Source
Skinningrove Jetty, once a loading point for locally mined ironstone, now a mecca for sea anglers - the name of the village stems from the Old Norse 'Shining Grove', a place of pagan worship
Skinningrove Jetty, once a loading point for locally mined ironstone, now a mecca for sea anglers - the name of the village stems from the Old Norse 'Shining Grove', a place of pagan worship | Source
Skinningrove Station was on a spur off the Saltburn-Whitby line - an early casualty of pre-Beeching rationalisation
Skinningrove Station was on a spur off the Saltburn-Whitby line - an early casualty of pre-Beeching rationalisation | Source
Skinningrove and works in more prosperous times, up until the 1960s. The nearby village of Carlin Howe, across the A174 Whitby road housed many of the workforce for Skinningrove works and nearby ironstone mines
Skinningrove and works in more prosperous times, up until the 1960s. The nearby village of Carlin Howe, across the A174 Whitby road housed many of the workforce for Skinningrove works and nearby ironstone mines | Source
Aerial view of Skinningrove Works in its heyday. A network of railway sidings sprawled around its western side on the man-made plateau
Aerial view of Skinningrove Works in its heyday. A network of railway sidings sprawled around its western side on the man-made plateau | Source
Looking down into the village from the Boulby clifftop footpath. This is another fine walk you might like to tackle - another time, along the Cleveland Way.
Looking down into the village from the Boulby clifftop footpath. This is another fine walk you might like to tackle - another time, along the Cleveland Way. | Source

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Comments 6 comments

BRIAN SLATER profile image

BRIAN SLATER 4 years ago from Nottingham Uk

Fabulous hub-although I'm from the uk and know the Whitby area I don't know this particular area. As a keen walker I would love to do this walk any day of the week. You have shown us some very good photo's which enhance your article-well done voted up.


alancaster149 profile image

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

Thanks Brian. There's a brochure available from the Northumbria Tourist Office titled: 'Walk Britain's Undiscovered Landscapes, an introduction to some of North East England's amazing walks'. See their website at www.visitnorthumbria.com/walking. There are twelve walks between North Yorkshire and the Borders, starting at Roseberry Topping near Great Ayton and finishing at Hethas Hike near Wooler


mattdigiulio profile image

mattdigiulio 4 years ago

Alan, this is lovely! Thanks for sharing. Matt


alancaster149 profile image

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

Thanks Matt(digiulio). One day maybe you'll be able to tear yourself away from your busy metropolitan schedule, 'an' put one foot in front o' t'other across our Li'l Island on this side o' t'Pond!' There's enough territory to cover yet (this is No.15 in the 'TRAVEL NORTH' series), so you'll see more of me yet.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi, even though I am from here too, I have never been up that far, and it looks so beautiful. I love the long walks like this, with all the great sights and view. I especially love discovering anything to do with smugglers as they fascinate me. I remember going to hastings and seeing the caves there, and of course Cornwall and Devon, I really must get on the train and head that way this summer, great review of a lovely place, nell


alancaster149 profile image

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

Hello, hello! There are enough 'wykes' (comes from Norse 'vik'= inlet) along the Yorkshire coast to inspire smuggling stories like the ones Daphne dy Maurier wrote about the South-west. The only advantage Devon and Cornwall had over Yorkshire was that both counties had two coasts. Ours goes from the Humber to the Tees, but we had some strong tides as well that might have put some off! However, the advantage was we faced the Low Countries where a lot of 'goodies' came from. A lot of the smuggling gangs were led by well-connected outsiders, too.

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