A Stroll With Stu: Victorian resort enjoying a renaissance

Saltburn seafront.
Saltburn seafront.

Many daytrippers from Teesside are shunning the underwhelming pimple of rust that is the Redcar Beacon, preferring to stay on the train for a day at sunny Saltburn.

This Victorian resort is having something of a renaissance, despite railway lines that don’t quite make it to the station and a pier that doesn’t quite make it to the sea.

Colourful beach huts in Saltburn.

Colourful beach huts in Saltburn.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Industrialist and MP Henry Pease, an influential figure in railways and ironworks, had a vision for a seaside escape for rich and poor alike.

Part of that vision included the magnificent Zetland Hotel, which had its own covered railway platform where bustling Bell Boys would relieve the local gentry of their luggage in exchange for a farthing or two and a patronising smirk.

The trains now meet the buffers 200 yards inland at a long stretch of Tarmac and a Perspex shack, but hey – that’s progress!

From here, head uphill away from the station buildings past an assortment of little shops. Cross the road near the Queens Hotel, straight on along Albion Terrace and right at the junction with Glenside at the impressive Great War memorial.

Huntcliffe from Cat Nab.

Huntcliffe from Cat Nab.

Albion Terrace continues, turning into Victoria Terrace at its junction with Upleatham Street, but always with trees cascading away to your left and some seriously impressive buildings on your right.

As the valley curls away, continue on the same road until its junction with Marske Mill Lane. Cross

the road and turn right, soon noting a carved tree stump (left) in a driveway indicating the owners love of either Easter Island or Warwick Davies.

Where the road takes a sharp right, head straight on down a track where the next point of casual interest is a fairies garden on your left. (It’s true, I tell you).

The track soon splits at a Cleveland Way sign and it is worth a short detour right, to a restored meadow supporting Saltburn viaduct which carries freight trains to the last remnants of heavy industry in East Cleveland.

Our route goes left into the woods, soon going downhill at a thinner track on your right.

Paths snake all over the place in these lovely mature woods but essentially you need to keep heading east, and downhill where possible.

Skelton Beck soon comes into view and shortly after dropping down to meet it, a little climb takes you back up to a remarkable collection of woodland attractions.

Italian Gardens, a bug hotel, tea rooms a great little miniature railway and more are all centred in the same area.

As is usual these days, a small band of volunteers - the friends of the valley – deserves massive credit for their efforts in making this area a must visit on a day trip to Saltburn.

Best in summer obviously, but still a gorgeous walk on a winter’s day.

The path crosses the beck adjacent to the platform for the miniature railway and snakes its way down to the seafront. At the end, a plaque tells the story of another of the little problems that contrived to stab Saltburn in the back 20 years ago.

Old iron works further up the valley had slowly flooded with blood red rusty water, eventually spilling over into the beck.

The sight of a red brook running across Saltburn’s beach did little for tourism, but as the plaque describes, several engineers finally found a solution involving boreholes and treatment ponds.

Now, it is time for a climb. Cat Nab is an eroded plug of earth which I climbed regularly as a kid. It is a tad dangerous at the top these days (especially during Hurricane Ophelia on my visit), but there is nothing to stop you clambering up.

Just take care near the top in order to enjoy fabulous views along the coast.

Slither back down and cross over to the beachside path. It would be rude not to have a walk along the pier (OK, OK, it gets to the sea at high tide), or indeed to miss out on the lovely water-driven cliff lift (closed in winter because it is run by the council).

But there are other proper old fashioned seaside attractions here – minigolf, beach huts, ice cream shops and amusements – as well as some surfing stores and an excellent fish restaurant.

Get some sand in your shoes as you keep heading North, but as the “prom” ends, turn inland up a wide road at the end of which are 3 path options.

Take the middle one, through Hazel Grove Woods for a mile or so, and after criss-crossing the feeble stream a couple of times, take a final left crossing to climb up to meet a wider track near some well-tended allotments.

Turn left and you will soon return to the centre of the town where some gorgeous independent cafes and pubs await.