|Port Mulgrave to Whitby (15 km)|
Above Whitby harbour sits the ruins of Whitby Abbey (behind the church on the hill)
This part of the Cleveland Way features two broad sandy beaches (at Runswick Bay and Sandsend) and finishes at the historic North Sea port of Whitby. The visits to sea level means that there is a bit more up and down to the day than usual. However most of the time is still spent on the cliff tops.
|Ship Inn||Pub||01947 840303|
I rejoined the Cleveland Way and turned right where the path curved through fields to the cliff edge. When the Lingrow Cliffs are reached (1 kilometre from Port Mulgrave) there is a good view across Runswick Bay to Kettleness point (a truncated nab). Beyond Wrack Hills, the path takes an abrupt right turn over a stile and soon meets the houses at Runswick Bank Top via a short enclosed section. There is a steep road leading down to the beach and an opportunity for an early morning break.
|Cliffemount Hotel||Hotel||01947 840103|
|The Firs||B&B||01947 840433|
|Runswick Bay from Kettleness|
A sandy 1 kilometre walk along the beach ends at a small beck - the sea-worn caves in the shale cliff before the back are known as Hob Holes (where legend has it that whooping cough can be cured by the resident hobgoblin). The short section along the beck is followed by a steep climb to get on to the top of High Cliff. The coast is followed to and through Kettleness Farm. The instability of the coastal cliffs is well illustrated by the fate of the original village of Kettleness. The entire village fell into the sea during one night in 1829 - the villagers then taking refuge on an alum ship standing offshore. The alum industry is also responsible for the quarrying that has removed half of the nab at Kettleness Point.
The path sweeps above the quarries and past a Coast Guard Lookout. A dismantled railway line is followed for a few metres - there is no temptation to follow the track-bed since it disappears into an overgrown and barred tunnel entrance. The walking for the next kilometre is annoyingly interrupted by a series of stiles until the path takes in 3 sides of a large field and drops sharply into Deepgrove Wyke ("wykes" are the inlets at the head of the steep sided valleys running down to the sea). The old railway track is rejoined at the bottom of the descent. Easy level walking then takes you through the extensive spoil heaps of the disused Sandsend Alum Quarries to the Sandsend carpark.
There is a long view from the carpark past Sandsend village and over 3 kilometres of sandy beach to the houses of Whitby perched above the harbour. The Cleveland Way takes a footpath beside the road for 2 kilometres before heading towards the beach to reach a tarmac path along the cliff top edge beside the houses. Alternatively the beach can be followed (thus avoiding any heavy holiday traffic) at low tide to a path joining the Cleveland Way or even to the West Pier at the mouth of the River Esk. Overlooking the harbour is a statue of Captain Cook and an archway made of whale jawbones - Whitby was the greatest whaling port in Britain. There is a good view over the river to St. Mary's Church which partially hides the gaunt ruins of Whitby Abbey (see the photo at the top).
Whitby has a tight connection with the sea since it is surrounded by moorland - its isolation was not really broken until 1836 with the arrival of the railways. Fishing has always been important but for 80 years starting in the early 1750s, whaling was the mainstay of the town. The need for strong whaling ships to stand the rough seas around Greenland also strengthened a local shipbuilding industry. The craftsmanship involved was so good that all of Captain Cook's famous ships (Endeavour, Resolution, Adventure and Discovery) were Whitby-built. Whitby is also well known as the place where Bram Stoker's Dracula set foot in England.
Follow the path down to the harbour front with a fish market on one side and amusement arcades on the other. The river is crossed via a swing bridge separating the upper and lower harbours. Just follow the tourists to the foot of Church Stairs - 199 steps dating from 1370 - and climb them to St. Mary's Church with an interesting navy oriented interior. The Whitby Youth Hostel is in the building to the right with the long red roof. There is also lots of accommodation in the town (hotels and B&B) and a fair amount of night-life (good pubs).