Thursday, May 18, 2006

Walk 130 -- Whitby, via Runswick Bay, to Port Mulgrave

Ages: Colin was 64 years and 10 days. Rosemary was 61 years and 152 days.
Weather: Mostly sunny but very windy. We got caught in a sharp shower right at the end.
Location: Whitby Harbour to Port Mulgrave, via Runswick Bay.
Distance: 9½ miles.
Total distance: 1030½ miles.
Terrain: A sandy beach which was fairly firm. Lots of grassy cliff paths with steep steps up and down in places. A path through a ravine with a rope to hold on to — Iceland style!
Tide: Out.
Rivers: No.52, Sandsend Beck.
Ferries: None, in fact we paddled across the river on the beach.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: The ‘Brown Cow’ in Hinderwell where we drank ‘Gem’ by Bath Ales.
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: We drove up the day before and camped at a lovely site in Hinderwell where the owners made us feel very welcome. In the morning we caught a bus from just outside the campsite to Whitby bus station. Then we walked down to the harbour.
At the end we walked up through Port Mulgrave to the campsite in Hinderwell — about half a mile. We didn’t use the car at all!

On arrival in Whitby we came across a steam bus! We passed a Dracula show (part of the Dracula story was set in Whitby, so the local traders make the most of it) and a gruesome looking fish restaurant, and there on the quay was a steam bus. It had been lovingly restored by a man and his wife who had bought it a few years previously, and now they were trying to claw some of their expenses back by giving rides to trippers throughout the Summer. So we thought we’d have a ride! It lumbered up the hill (chuff! chuff! chuff!) to the whalebone arch and then down another way — not very far but it was fun! It certainly turned a few heads, especially when puffing up the steep hill.The tide was out revealing big stretches of firm sand, so we decided to use the beach route instead of starting this Walk at the top by the whalebone arch. It was lovely striding along by the waves, made us feel good to be alive! We saw a tall ship out on the horizon, and wondered if it was the ‘Grand Turk’ that we had seen on our last visit to Whitby. We looked at it through binoculars and established it was a different ship, but that didn’t matter. There was something wonderful about walking along the sand in that glorious light you only get at the seaside and seeing such a beautiful ship out to sea! We sat on a rock to view the scene — and eat the pasties we had just bought in town. A school party wandered by, but they were OK and didn’t bother us. I think the splendour of the scene had made us all calm and more tolerant towards each other.
We passed a row of brightly coloured beach huts, then saw the clifftop footpath crossing an awkward gap in the hills. We were much happier down on the sands, knowing that the footpath up there turns on to the main road for at least the next mile. Thank goodness the tide was out today!We walked all the way to Sandsend, and there we had to climb up on the cliff because Sandsend means just that. We had to cross Sandsend Beck, but it was so shallow we were able to paddle across in our boots.
We crossed a car park where a carved notice informed us that we were on the North Yorkshire & Cleveland Heritage Coast. Another notice told us there was a £50 excess charge, but we weren't sure what that was about. So, without paying anybody £50, we took the steps behind the notice up to a disused railway line which was our path for the next mile or so.

The ‘railway’ took us through some old quarries and was surrounded by earth tips. But nature was slowly taking over the old workings and the flowers were beautiful. We even came across an apple tree in full blossom, and wondered whether it was the result of someone’s discarded apple core in years gone past. Whenever I have an apple as part of my picnic lunch — which is often — I always throw the core into a nearby bush as it is totally bio-degradable and I like to think that some small animal will partake of it. I wonder how many apple trees I have unwittingly planted over the years!We sat in some heather to eat the rest of our lunch, and admired the spectacular views over the clifftop and out to sea. There were a number of puddles about after the recent heavy downpours we have had, and one of them was full of tadpoles!We went round a bend, and the ‘railway’ went into a tunnel — which was boarded up, of course.
We climbed a lot of steps through woodland, then followed an undulating path for several miles. We passed wind-worn bushes, but the flowers seemed even more glorious in the sunshine up there.The views were pretty spectacular too, and we were really enjoying ourselves. We rounded a bend, and we could see the little fishing village of Runswick in the distance.As we neared Runswick Bay, we realised that the path went right down to the beach and crossed the sands before rising up through the village to the top again. First we went down a lot of steps, then we joined a stream which tumbled down a ravine. The path was right next to it, then the path was in it! At one place there was a rope — Iceland-style — which we could grab to stop us slipping on the wet rocks. There were little waterfalls on the way down, it was very pretty.We walked along the beach towards the village, and sat on a seat to eat our chocolate. There we were passed by yet another school party, but we were feeling in such a good mood they didn’t bother us at all. Besides, they were all very polite and well-behaved which is so refreshing in this day and age. As a result, they were all enjoying themselves enormously, and so were we.
Runswick is very like Clovelly / Polperro / Robin Hood’s Bay but much less known which adds to its charm. The road out of it is very steep — so steep, in fact, that steps have been put in the pavement to help pedestrians reach the top! We staggered up (we were a bit tired by then) and walked along to a viewpoint to look back over the bay and the way we had come. According to our map, there was a footpath leading off that road along the very edge of the cliff. But we couldn’t find it (perhaps it has fallen over the cliff) so we had to return to the real Cleveland Way which cut off the corner.
It was about a mile to Port Mulgrave, but not a flat mile by any means. Steps took us down and steps took us up, and all the while the sky was darkening over. It was a ‘race’ to see if we could complete the Walk before the heavens opened. We came to a stile where a notice directed us along a ‘permissive path’ in the direction of the village. Colin decided to take it even though I told him we should go on a bit until we hit a road.

That ended Walk no.130, we shall pick up Walk no.131 next time at the ‘permissive path’ notice on the clifftop at Port Mulgrave. The permissive path was not much good, being narrow and a bit overgrown. It also brought us out at the wrong end of the houses. Colin was in such a mood because it had started to rain. He regards any unexpected shower as a personal insult, and when the rain got harder he got really annoyed. He took out his new cape which he had never worn before (I have worn mine on several occasions and think it is brilliant) and tried to put it on. He made such a fuss about getting it over his head and the right way round, it had stopped raining by the time he had sorted himself out! I was helpless with laughter all the way through this little comedy-act, and even Colin relaxed and smiled (grimaced?) eventually. We walked the half mile up through the village to Hinderwell where our tent was pitched in the campsite, with a whistling kettle all ready to put on the stove. We felt kind of smug that we hadn’t used the car at all today.

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