I’ve been putting off writing this post as I knew it would take a while to write, my walking posts are usually about a one day walk, this time we walked for nine days so I’m going to split it into two posts! I have an evening free, so here we go!! Warning, it’s long and there’s lots of photos, so get a cup of tea, make yourself comfortable and lets get walking…
The Cleveland Way runs for 108 miles around the North York Moors National Park. It starts in the middle in the market town of Helmsley, goes round and up to the coast at Saltburn then all the way along the coast to Filey. I didn’t realise it’s one of the oldest long distance routes here in the UK, there were 50th anniversary walks a month before we did it.
My friend and I walk one of these long distance paths each year, 108 miles was a bit too far for us in one go (and in the annual leave available) so we decided to do the first 80 miles, Helmsley to Whitby, aiming to complete it before the end of the year.
Helmsley is a lovely town, a typical picturesque estate town, as Duncombe Park is next to it. Reasonably priced B&B for one night at the weekend is pretty near impossible to find, so we decided to stay for two nights at Kilburn instead, the end of the first stage and having got up there early, we decided to split the first stage over two days anyway, an easy start to the walk!
As we left Helmsley and gained a bit of height, there were good views over to the 11th century Helmsley Castle.
We detoured to Rievaulx (pronounced Reevow, rhyming with low!!) This is one of the Cistercian abbeys, founded in 1132, just the ruins remain since the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1538. It always amazes me when I see these old medieval buildings, beautifully built by hand and still standing!
From Rievaulx the path gently rises through a couple of villages, woods and fields until it reaches the top of Sutton Bank, this is a well known view point as you can imagine. On a clear day you can see right across to the dales.
Our B&B was in Kilburn, just under the escarpment. The village is famous for the Mouseman of Kilburn, a master craftsman whose furniture can be found in many churches and big houses, recognisable by a little carved mouse he included on every piece. It’s also famous for it’s white horse, we can just see this (as a white splodge!) from Otley 40 miles away on a clear day. It’s not some ancient fertility symbol, it was actually created by the local schoolmaster in 1857!!
We got a taxi back up to the top of Sutton Bank the next morning as we had 11.5 miles to walk anyway. We followed the line of the escarpment with all the big views for quite a few miles until we descended through woods into the village of Osmotherley. The next morning we could look back and see the ridge we’d walked along.
The next day we were back up on the escarpment and we could just see Roseberry Topping in the distance, an iconic little hill a couple of days walking ahead, a little blip on the horizon!!
As you can see the paths were pretty good for most of the walk, a bit hard underfoot in places but well signposted and well maintained.
I like walks when you can look back and see how far you’ve walked, Osmotherley was down in the valley at the base of the far hill.
We spent the night in a farmhouse on the top of the moors, a great place to stay, comfortable and very friendly. There were a couple of young girls staying too and we were called down for dinner at 7pm to find a table groaning with a the trimmings of a full roast dinner. Then the farmers wife came in with the biggest roast chicken I’ve ever seen – I think it had aspirations to be a turkey!! After a homemade pudding and a bottle of wine, we were very well fed for £10!
We woke up the next morning to find the mist had come down. We could barely see 30′ in front of us at times, so we were very glad it was such a clear path.
After about an hour of walking through mist we had that magical experience when mist starts to lift, rolls around and then suddenly reveals the views around.
This was our longest days walk, we hoped it would be 15 miles, in turned out to be over 17 miles, a long way for us, so we were glad when the mist lifted and we could see more clearly.
Across the moors there’s quite a lot of these old boundary stones and standing stones, a reminder of the ancient routes across these moors.
As we descended from the escarpment, ready to climb up the next one we could see the ridge we’d spent the last couple of days walking along. The dip on the left is where our farmhouse B&B was the night before.
Our last ascent of the day was up to the Captain Cook memorial. There’s great views from here and we sat and watched hang-gliders setting off on the thermals. We could see Roseberry Topping quite clearly now but that would wait until the next morning. We were staying at the Royal Oak in Great Ayton, a lovely place, they even came and collected us from the end of the walk and took us back the next morning.
Roseberry Topping might only be little but it’s pretty steep, not easy to climb when you have no balance! So there’s no photos going up or down! You can see the path zig-zagging up.
The views from the top were worth the climb, again we could see the ridge we’d just spent a couple of days walking along…
…and the view forward…we can just see the sea!
Once we’d recovered from the detour up Roseberry Topping it was fairly easy walking along the moors and down towards the sea.
I think the coastal walk will have to wait until tomorrow. Hope you enjoyed it so far!