A Stroll With Stu: Challenging walk steeped in history

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Flu over Christmas (along with 2 million other people) had a direct impact on this column. Normally when I do the walk, I leave enough time before publication to do another one, should the first stroll prove unacceptably gloopy.

This particular walk led me to the most dangerous and horrible two miles in North Yorkshire.

Bear Grylls would have called in a helicopter to rescue him, his cameraman, his personal chef and his masseur, and would have given up long before I did.

Sadly, the flu gave me no time for a back-up walk, though I’ve kindly provided you with an escape route near the end.

Starting at Carlin How, this six-mile circular walk starts by walking past the Maynard Arms along Steaphenson Street , slowly uphill with lines of neat Coronation Street style terraces leading off to your right.

At the road end, a path goes uphill alongside a fence. Quickly into open fields, follow it for a mile (soon doglegging through the hedge) to cross two lanes, before ultimately heading down a few

steps to the right of the Lumpsey Ironstone mine which closed in 1954.

This area is riddled with ironstone mine shafts and their subsequent rusty flooding is thought to be the chief cause of the occasional bright red streams running through Skinningrove and Saltburn.

The 175m deep shafts are capped and monitored, and I mused that a few shovels of blue dye dropped down the shaft might give Saltburn the world’s first purple beach (these council planners have got no imagination).

Cross the Potash Railway, and bear slightly left to a bridge in a pretty dell.

At a wide track, turn left to re-cross the railway, then after 50 yards turn right at a waymark with the hedge on your left, skirting past a metal container to approach a bridge over a disused railway. Beyond the bridge is the site of the last ironstone mine to close – North Skelton in 1964 – now consumed by the Tees

Components complex, with a monument in the form of a large winding wheel at the depot entrance).

Drop down left ahead of the bridge to the old rail route, but after 100 yards go through a gate up on your left.

After a few minutes, turn sharp left following the field boundary, then it’s right and left and soon over a stile, in the general direction of a large wind turbine.

Cross over a wide farm track, follow the hedge and keep left at the next corner soon onto open ground to the left of some bushes and scrub. Drop down to enter Merrys Wood through a gate, over a footbridge and up steps to turn right on a wide track (ignore the stile).

This is the route of Paddy Waddell’s railway, conceived to take ironstone across the moors to the Glaisdale Ironworks. Started in 1882, it fizzled out two years later when a panicky Finance Manager yelled “Stop!”

Turn left on the road, then after 20 yards take an unmarked stile on your right. Do battle with aggressive brambles, then bear left with Kilton Hill silhouetted away to your right.

Approaching Stank House Farm, you’ll observe that the owner has benefitted from an e-bay “buy one, get 200 free” offer for electric fences. Threading their way through all these stimulating hazards

are four of the dodgiest stiles you’ll see in a lifetime of walking. The first has been claimed by a thornybush, the next two are made from decaying driftwood, and the last is entirely enclosed by electric wires, necessitating a swift and muddy roll underneath. Go through the farm buildings, then left along the access track.

It is here that I beg you to go keep going along the road, right at Kilton village and after 15 minutes back to your start point at Carlin How to complete a pleasant winter stroll through East Clevelands history.

The Cleveland Ironstone mining museum is down in Skinningrove – a fitting finale devoted to the 19th Century Iron rush.

I took the bridleway 200 yards after Stinky Farm leading right along electric avenue into the woods.

After a mile in the wrong direction, I dropped steeply down to a footbridge, then up steps to turn left at two waymarks on a path alongside Kilton Beck.

What an absolute mare. If I hadn’t clambered vertically up a muddy bank to emerge gasping for air and mired in grime at Liverton Mines, I might still be in there.

A dozen fallen trees, countless bottomless pits of brown slop, huge boulders, impenetrable brambles and a succession of extremely dodgy gullys necessitating a hopeful leap into a muddy foothold on the other side, meant I travelled a mile in about 90 minutes. I had to escape before it got dark!

And the pub was shut.