Monday, 24 August 2015

Grosmont to Whitby (via Robin Hood's Bay)

Climbing Out of Grosmont
This walk provides a fitting end to previous walks I'd completed from Battersby round to Thirsk and from Battersby round to Grosmont, creating a staggered three part walk from Thirsk round the Cleveland Way, dropping off down the beautiful Esk Valley and on to Robin Hood's Bay and then back to Whitby along the stunning North East coastline.

This walk provides a chance to take in the coast along the North East with the smuggler's town of Robin Hood's Bay being one of the highlights along the route, whilst also joining up the North York Moors and the North East coast whilst travelling along parts of the coast-to-coast route.

The day begins at the endpoint of my last walk from Battersby through to Grosmont, taking the first train of the day (6am start) along with the 7 other early morning travellers - sun hunters heading to Whitby and cyclists and walkers heading out to the hills and coast.

Grosmont is a railway town full of railway themed character (if you've ever read it, think Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett). Heading off down the station and pulling left over the trainline that now runs steam locomotives for tourists and pleasure seekers, I head up a hill that looks far more daunting than it had done on the map.

After a few turns and a large incline later I'm out of the town and looking back across the valleys surrounding Grosmont and breathing in the old and relatively unspoiled feel of this town and its surrounding countryside.

The climb itself just keeps going heading up and up to the top where I'm just be able to see Whitby Abbey and the harbour of Whitby, which remain not far from where I am now despite the length of the walk I have ahead.

Near the End of the Climb
I will not be heading as the crow flies and am already starting to head off course towards Falling Foss waterfall where I will start to head north and head directly towards Whitby before pulling off to the coast and then directly away from my final destination.

More immediately I am already feeling the heat of the day and it continues to be a long climb up to the top, but I can see the end in sight on the map where I will turn off and start to follow a flat ridge for much of the way to Falling Foss.

The Sheep Are Fascinated By This Intrepid Explorer
At the top the sheep seem to find my presence both interesting and apparently pressure awesome. At the same time, the views are pretty spectacular and the panorama cannot really be done much justice by my camera, but at the top of my long climb out of Grosmont I am finally able to sit back, admire and do the best of a bad job taking a snapshot of just a small section of the stunning panoramic view I am able to enjoy.

View From The Top
Up here there is a chance to catch my breath and make the most of the late summer sunshine which has been putting on quite a show so far, before I eventually concede that I must get on my way and leave behind this resting spot.

The going now is much easier. With the  longest climb of the day behind me, I have only one major climb ahead of me and that remains some way away so I'm able to leisurely follow the valley catching a glimpse of Whitby Abbey in the far distance.

View to Whitby Abbey in the Distance
This level path continues on for some time with the only trouble coming once I head through some sort of quarry and truck park where it becomes hard to find my bearings, but I eventually work it out and pick up the path on the other side, heading on for some distance until I reach the main road.

On this final stretch I seem to have wandered off onto the wrong track somewhere, but this produces no issues other than a need to hop a gate towards the road on the other side.

Having come in wrong, however, I'm no longer lined up right for the path across and my attempts to get on track quickly go awry as I'm heading across the edge of the valley on the other side rather than down as I had originally intended.

I quickly consider whether to head back and return, but I realise that I will in time come across a road that will drop down and take me into Littlebeck (my intended target) so I continue on unfazed until that road does indeed appear and I start dropping down the hill expecting to reach some sort of town or village.

Finally Dropping Down
Having reached Littlebeck, this proves to be a lovely little village right on the edge of the stream, or beck as I suppose I should call it, and after deciding that it would be improper to start photographing people's houses like some sort of voyeur, I reluctantly drop off the road and onto a path heading towards Falling Foss.

At this point my mind starts to wonder towards Captain Cook (I don't know why, but anyone who has visited this area will know just how many different places carry the Cook name so I imagine it was some sort of Cook themed house/pub/hospital/city/carnival that sparked my thinking). 

By this point I'm in the middle of a rather enjoyable walk/adventure and I'm feeling the spirit of a bold and fearless explorer when it comes to my attention that I'm not just listening to, but rather enjoying the latest pop album at which point my whole wild and brave adventurer illusion is shattered in an instant (FYI: I do also listen to better music).

No fearless explorer has ever headed forth with pop lyrics going through their mind (it's just not done) and I feel guilty to have let them all down just by my false representation.

In that brief moment, I do contemplate whether ships crossing the lonely oceans of the north (or south) might have heard the eerie sounds of a ghostly song only to find that they have come across Captain Cook with his crew singing the latest pop hit, but I find it unlikely and distinctly discomforting to find myself going down this line of thinking.

I imagine Cook was from an age when men were real men and when the sort of men who in the right millennia would listen to pop were certainty not out exploring the unknown and unfathomable. They were at home and in all honesty probably having a better time of it all.

Still, I find it hard to believe that a man destined to inspire more holiday homes and pubs than any other North-Easter before him could be such a man and abandon my train of thought to focus upon the valley I find myself in which has proven to be a wonderful oasis of sight and sound.

The River Valley
As I follow this delightful valley it is not long before I stumble upon the rather unexpected sight of some sort of grotto or cave, clearly built at some expense to satisfy tired explorers out for a leisurely stroll.

The Grotto and I
This looks a good place to rest - for one it is very shady on a bright summer's day - and I take the time to have a good drink, taking in all that the cool shade has to offer me before heading off to find the Falling Foss waterfall.

Before long I find myself at this waterfall and to be brutally honest it's a bit of a disappointment. I've visited before just a year ago so this should not be a great surprise, but I watch the water drop over the edge for the obligatory minute and then head off passing all the day trippers travelling from their cars to the cafe which is doing a fine trade on this day.

Falling Foss Waterfall
While the waterfall is a bit of a disappointment, the valley certainly is not and I keep following the path of the water as I go along, occasionally crossing from one side of the stream to the other as I go. In time this brings me out into an increasingly leafy glade where the sun start to pour once more through the trees and down to me below.

The Trees Start To Thin

And Then Release Me
Before long the trees are no longer simply thinning, but have gone on to release me into a breach in the forest where the path runs through a small grassy strip heading out into open ground.

This is where I will have to begin my second long climb of the day, but its a tricky path to find now and I make two wrong choices before I eventually find myself heading in an acceptable direction. This path is initially very overgrown and I find myself forcing my way through an endless forest of bracken, but in time that too releases me and I reach the top of the next ridge.

Looking Back After My Climb
Now I'm back in the sunshine and having been stuck in the shade this is once again wonderful, though I remain mindful that the novelty will wear as I continue to feel the heat of the day.

The route here proves to be long and at times hard to follow, but in time the sea once again starts to come into view and I'm able to look out to the sea in the far distance.

Sea Comes Into View
Whitby now stands on my left while Robin Hood's Bay stands on my right and I'll be heading in a fairly direct line towards the sea at the mid point of the two and it will be a fairly long trip across the heather and some slightly marshy ground as I make my way towards Sneatonthorpe (great name).

On my way I pass a number of coast-to-coast hikers heading out from Robin Hood's Bay and clearly equipped for the journey, but after a period of continuing across this open landscape I hit the road I must follow and start heading for Hawkser where I will join up with the sea.

Initially this involves quiet lanes, but as I head into Hawkser this turns into some slightly daring road following; being passed by some rather fast traffic, but soon I'm back off the road and heading into a holiday park at Hawkser.

This holiday park is not particularly large, but in all honesty I feel it is a downer on a very pleasant walk and many sets of eyes watch me from their balconies as I traverse across the park well aware that I am not blending in with the low budget middle class vibe. 

However, I exit the other side unscathed and find myself faced with a rather remarkable coastline with dramatic cliffs stretching before me to both the right and left as far as the eye can see.

The Coast
Here I will turn left and will eventually return on my way back to Whitby, but although this stretch is very busy I'm particularly enjoying the walk at this stage taking in the endless views of dramatic cliffs and bright sparkling sea views in front of me.

At the same time I'm joined by a number of coast-to-coast walkers who carrying their large bags are making my trip of the day look rather minor and inferior in comparison.

Cliff Line
This pleasant walk continues on for some time until Robin Hood's Bay starts to come into sight and before long I'm descending down, stopping off at the stops to buy some more drink and a few sugary snacks to eat.

I meander down onto the sea front, where I get a few smiles and nods from fellow walkers who looking at the state of me seem to think that I am one of them triumphantly arriving at Robin Hood's Bay from St Bees.

This makes me feel something of an imposter and a bit embarrassed, turning up after a mere day trip to such a momentous place and I move off to the quieter higher echelons of the sea front to take in a quiet rest as I build up my strength for the journey back to Whitby.

I have time on my hands in terms of getting to my destination in time for the last train of the day and I'm able to relax for a bit and take in all the sun and sights.

And Rest...
Before long though I'm feeling positively lazy and raring to get going and climbing back onto the cliff tops and off towards Whitby.

Since it's late summer and a beautiful day, its a busy climb back out of Robin Hood's Bay, but I find a gap in the crowds and get a chance to take a snap of the view back over Robin Hood's Bay.

Looking Back Across Robin Hood's Bay
With that final look complete I must now fully turn my mind towards my journey back the way I came and then on following the coast all the way round to Whitby and the train home.

As I go I'm continuing to pass more coast-to-coast walkers with their vast packs and cheery but weary smiles as they come to the end of a long hike across some of the most beautiful stretches of Northern England, but as I edge away from Robin Hood's Bay the number of walkers drops away and settles into a more steady stream of sun seekers.

Looking Back Over Blue Seas
By this point in a walk my mind is usually turning towards my final destination, but this truly is a beautiful coastline and with plenty of time in hand I'm going at a nice easy pace taking it all in. Before long, however, I've retraced my final step from the turn off and I'm once again able to tread upon fresh ground.

Treading Fresh Ground...
By this point it is moving towards early afternoon and having resupplied at Robin Hood's Bay I'm starting to feel cooler after the intense heat of the day, but even so it is nice when I'm able to head through some trees for a phase and enjoy the slightly cooler shade.

It's Cool In The Shade
This is a lovely and much quieter stretch of the walk and I'm able to take lots of breaks to sit and relax in the knowledge that I've plenty of time till my train departs.

Before too long, however, the foot traffic starts to pick up once again as I close in on Whitby with a few walkers stopping and asking the distance to Robin Hood's Bay and back.

Having informed a number of such parties of the different stretches left to go I soon stumble upon Saltwick Bay offering some of the best and worst that the North-Eastern coastline has to offer.

Below me is one of the most gorgeous beaches you will see and with it being a big climb down to the bottom it's relatively deserted (I merely peer down from the top). However, up top is one of the ugliest caravan sites I've seen and that's taken the gloss off the whole scene.

First View of the Beach
I Did Not Photograph the Caravan Park!
Sadly I must pass through the caravan park and I do so with a bit of a bad temper being sure to direct unhappiness towards the local planning office which I very much hope they telepathically received (if that's your job and you picked up some bad vibes on a Sunday in August I don't repent one bit).

Soon though that is behind me, so all is good once again so long as I keep moving forwards and the Abbey is now coming into sight. Sadly, however, this only prompts more disappointment and its hard to disguise the fact that I'm let down by this entry into Whitby which was supposed to be both heroic and triumphant.

Whitby Abbey Comes Into View
What Have They Done To You?
Soon all is once again good as I'm next to the Abbey and looking out over Whitby. After a short rest I head down into town and after a short wander about I get some Fish and Chips and take my seat by the Marina to finish off a well deserved dinner.

Boats In Whitby (This Would Make a Great Jigsaw Wouldn't It?)
Fish and Chips
This is a great spot for me as I have a jigsaw back home that I've completed more times than any other of this exact scene, but with my dinner eaten I head off to the train station and await my mighty steed. Before long I'm off heading home and well settled into my journey and approaching my stop before I realise that I'm now on the wrong bit of track.

It's a Sunday and normally this train would take me all the way home, but instead  its heading off to Hartlepool today and I have to quickly get off at the next station after the one I should have got off at. Fortunately I'm in Stockton which has two close stations and it is only a short walk back across town directed by some lads on a night out (if you're reading, thanks) to the station I should have got off at to swap trains.

My error corrected I'm finally heading home.

Maps: If you wish to follow this walk the route can be determined using OS map 94. This post is designed as a narrative and not designed as route directions to be followed... always use a map and be sure of your route before you leave the house!