Map: L/R 94
Distance: about 10 miles
Difficulty: moderate with some challenging cliff descents/ascents particularly on the Staithes to Skinningrove section
Terrain: cliff paths, footpaths, roads
Access: Parking at both ends – car park at top end of Staithes – no vehicle access to village.
Public transport: It is possible to get from Staithes to Redcar and return using X4 and X5 buses changing at Loftus. Check Traveline website.
On the beach is a boat with a ‘model’ fisherman looking out to sea. This is a memorial to those who lost their lives near ‘the grove’. The boat is a ‘repus’- a traditional fishing coble that was found in bad repair and restored. It once belonged to a local fisherman.
The name Skinningrove is thought to be of Viking origin meaning Skinner’s grove or pit. It was mainly an area for agriculture, fishing and ironstone mining which began in the 1800s. The railway came when smelting was introduced in 1865. The jetty (still visible) was built in 1880 to help heavy cargoes to be loaded on to ships. Mining continued until 1958 and the steel works closed in 1970. If you walk a little way back into the village the Tom Leonard Mining Museum celebrates this heritage.
Take care when rejoining the Cleveland Way - follow the concrete promenade north westwards until there is a clear path marked up the side of the cliff. I was advised by a local that the path was nearer to the village and found out half way up it was not the path and had to crawl the rest on hands and knees trying not to look back down at the steep cliff side. Not to be recommended! Once at the top be sure to stick to the most inland path – the original Cleveland Way has disappeared in parts due to erosion.
A couple of miles further along near Warsett Hill there is an interesting building preserved as an ancient monument. It was part of the Huntcliffe ironstone mine that operated here between 1872 and 1906 and met the demands of the rail and ship building industries. A fan was located in the building to remove stale air from the mines. Look out for the iron sculptures near the path.
A couple of miles further along is Saltburn by the Sea. The Ship Inn is now a heritage centre - useful to find out more about the area. This was once a remote area and an ideal place for smuggling. In 1839, Henry Pease the son of the founder of the Stockton to Darlington Railway was staying with his brother at nearby Marske. In a walk to Old Saltburn he experienced a vision of a town turned into a lovely garden and so founded Saltburn giving the streets fairy tale names such as ruby, emerald and pearl.
The attractive non-commercial pier at Saltburn was built by a local hotelier in 1868. It was a great success and was served by steamers from Scarborough. It was much longer in those days and had a theatre. In 1875 a ferocious gale did damage to the end, a ship struck it in 1924 and a storm hit in 1974 - all combined to reduce its length by a half. The oldest UK example of a funicular railway runs up the cliff behind the pier. On the top promenade at Saltburn is an ornamental garden made by a local artist working with school children.
The walk continues to Marske by the Sea. The cliffs around here are red, emphasising the iron that is in the rock. The walk flattens out at Marske (comes from Mersc meaning marshy land). William the Conqueror came up here to defeat an uprising by Edgar the Atheling. In more recent times there was an aerodrome here. In 1918 Captain W E Johns was posted to Marske – a commanding officer was called ‘Gimlet’ a name he later used in his Biggles books.
Redcar has flat sands and allows a view back to the more strenuous walking over the hills. The name means ‘place by the red marsh’. Its real expansion began in Victorian times with the discovery of iron ore and the construction of the Redcar railway. It became a resort for the Teeside towns. The Museum of Shipping and Fishing houses ‘The Zetland’ which is the world’s oldest surviving lifeboat; built in 1800 and saved 502 lives whilst in service.
Near the end of the promenade is the cinema which stands on the old pier. This has a few odd sculptures on the side including a ‘man’ hanging from the wall. Perhaps the most memorable sculpture is that of Laurel and Hardy standing on the promenade and looking out to sea. I was probably unlucky in my choice of pub here as it wasn’t exactly welcoming. It was the nearest I could find to the station while I waited for a train. I asked for some Newcastle Brown the request was received in silence and the barmaid poked a bottle across the counter. I asked for a glass only to be told it comes in a bottle! A survey of the clientele restrained me from arguing……
The photos show Skinningrove from the cliffs with the jetty in view, the memorial at Skinningrove, the pier at Saltburn and the Laurel and Hardy figures at Redcar.