Rievaulx Abbey ruins from the Cleveland Way
In the north-east corner of England, there is a large plateau of moorland bounded on the west by the flat expanse of the Vale of Mowbray, on the east by the North Sea, on the north by Middlesbrough city and by York city to the south. Most of this plateau is contained in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. The Cleveland Way makes its way in a horseshoe-shaped route around 175 kilometres (108 miles) of the Park boundary.
The journey begins from the market town of Helmsley and quickly gains the western escapement of the moors (at first the Hambleton Hills and then the Cleveland Hills). This gives panoramic views over the Vale of Mowbray to the Pennine Hills and heather-filled glimpses into the heart of the moorland. Past Kildale, the Cleveland Way makes a beeline for the coast at Saltburn and then continues its lofty progress southwards along the coastal cliffs. The highest point on England's eastern seaboard is crossed over Rock Cliff at 203m (666 feet). The cliff-line is interrupted by several quaint fishing villages and the larger coastal towns of Whitby and Scarborough. The official end of the Cleveland Way is along Newbiggin Cliff at the old boundary between the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire. For walkers the real end is a few kilometres further at the town of Filey.
The Cleveland Way is not a hard walk with most sections having easy walking. The least easy section is between Osmotherley and Clay Bank where a sequence of four moors are separated by small dales with about 100m descent and ascent for each dale. Take care when walking along the coastal cliffs - they are steep, liable to slips and the path can be slippery in wet weather. Navigation is no problem since most junctions have 'Cleveland Way' signposts and there are waymarkers with the Countryside Commissions logo (a stylised acorn) to confirm the route.
There is plenty of accommodation available on the trail with a few exceptions - the nearest accommodation for Sutton Bank is the Hambleton Inn (camping available), at Clay Bank you will probably need to detour into Great Broughton for B&B (there is camping available 1 kilometre south at Holme Farm) and the only accommodation in Kildale is limited B&B at Bankside Farm.
For public transport possibilities have a look at The Cleveland Way Route Map
Information for the walk can be gathered from the following
The National Trail Guides: Cleveland Way (Amazon.com) written by Ian Sampson . This book covers the whole route in considerable detail with extracts from Ordinance Survey maps showing the route. There is good advice on how to walk the Cleveland Way, what to take and what to expect. Included are a number of articles about features met on the Cleveland Way. As an added bonus there are four circular walks described that take in some part of the Cleveland Way. At the back of the book there is a section of useful information - transport, accommodation, useful addresses, the OS maps to use and other books to have a look at.
Walking the Cleveland Way and the Missing Link by Malcolm Boyles. This includes a route back to the start of the Cleveland Way at Helmsley from the official end at Newbiggin Cliff. The "missing link" is also described in Cleveland Way Plus the Tabular Hills Link
Have a look at the Footprint pamphlet, The Cleveland Way, which is nice and light.
North York Moors by Ken Ward (Jarrold Colour Publications, 1989). This is not a Cleveland Way guide but does cover some of the moorland sections along its own route. It could be used as the basis for extending the Cleveland Way.
The guidebooks above have good enough maps to keep you on track but you
may want maps for a larger area, e.g. to identify distant features. The
Ordnance Survey Landranger maps that cover the Cleveland Way are:
0093: Middlesbrough, Darlington & Hartlepool
0094: Whitby & Esk Dale, Robin Hood's Bay
0099: Northallerton & Ripon, Pateley Bridge & Leyburn
0100: Malton & Pickering, Helmsley & Easingwold
0101: Scarborough, Bridlington & Filey
I did this walk in March, 1993 so the standard warning applies - this is not an up-to-date or comprehensive guide so consult the above references.
Cleveland Way Dairy by George Tod (1999).
The Armchair Guide to the Cleveland Way. Updated early 1998. Lots of good photos.
The Cleveland Way by Bryan Thomas.
See the North York Moors National Park Authority site for all the information you need about the North York Moors.
The Cleveland Way is the official National Trails site.
Look at Spotlight's Cleveland Way for good general information and lots of details of accommodation and services. You can book on-line and they offer a baggage service.
Lets Stay North Yorkshire Moors Accommodation & Tourist Guide for the North Yorkshire Moors.