A Stroll With Stu - spectacular views to make up for the wintry chill
This is a repeat of a walk from a couple of years back, but the opening of a new coffee shop en route is my justification, along with the bonus of not having to draw a new map.
You can make this a 6-mile circular walk from Whitby by starting on the Cinder Track in Whitby (access the track via steps on the road up from Pannett Park past Arundel House B&B), and heading south across the viaduct through Stainsacre to Hawsker.
Alternatively, you can do the first 2 miles on the top deck of the X93 bus to Scarborough, hopping off at the Hare and Hounds in High Hawsker.
Take the track towards the coast adjacent to the bus stop, soon crossing a bridge over the old railway.
It felt kind of odd to recall that I’d travelled as a kid many times under that bridge in a British Rail diesel train, at a time when the Internet came in the form of a shelf full of colourful books, the telly had just 2 channels, and the moon was still made of cheese. It is just possible, that I may be getting old.
It hadn’t stopped raining for six weeks before I did this walk, but I’d gone to bed the night before reassured by a weather forecast promising Saharan aridity until late in the day.
At 3am though, I was woken by my cat imploring me to look outside at the biblical deluge that made Redcar look like the tide had come in and decided to stay where it was. I checked the rainfall radar on an app on my phone and saw that a small but potent storm had parked up over Redcar as if tethered to the Beacon, but Whitby appeared mercifully dry.
The sky to the north was still an interesting shade of black as I made my way along the good track towards Gnipe Howe Farm, turning left ahead of the buildings to head towards Whitby, enjoying nice views inland to the far moors – with the new potash mine at Sneaton prominent in the middle distance.
Despite passing a group of sullen cows up to their brisket in mud, I was pleasantly surprised at the condition of this agreeable little track though I soon diverted sharp right turn down a thin gulley taking me to the somewhat claggier Cleveland Way cliff top path.
Turn left, and prepare to do an extra 20% mileage by slithering sideways.
The compensation is the spectacular views of sheer cliffs dropping to inaccessible beaches, the vast and slightly scary swell of the graphite grey North Sea and the local fishermen tending lobster pots from their pretty little boats.
After cresting a rise, the Whitby Lighthouse comes into view.
First lit in 1858 with the aid of several gallons of paraffin, the light is now automated and sits adjacent to the old keeper’s cottages which are now available as holiday lets. Two hundred yards later is the old ‘Hawsker Bull’ foghorn station.
Deactivated in 1987, the two huge trumpets (powered by compressed air) remain an awesome sight – if they went off unexpectedly as you walked past, you’d end up in Denmark.
It is here that you will find the new Hornblower Tea Garden.
The rain was slanting down now and I was grateful for the opportunity to take a break.
Sadly though, there is no shelter at the moment, largely because someone at the National Park Office is on a year-long training course before he is allowed access to the rubber stamp.
But these are lovely people who run this venture, and I was led to a little cushioned seat in the shed that houses the ice-cream, to enjoy a piping hot cafetiere of Colombian and a cracking wedge of carrot cake.
Alas, they are likely to be closed now until next March, but will likely come back bigger and even better.
For now, I am happy to report that I got the last bit of cake. Sorry peeps.
Simply follow the path north, eventually through the caravan park at Saltwick Bay, admiring sea stacks, boat wrecks and hardy seabirds along the way.
A short while later, you will emerge onto the road near the abbey and the 199 steps down to the fleshpots of Whitby.
I went on to watch Whitby Town play Stourbridge in the 4th qualifying round of the FA Cup, with an astonishing 1,100 other people.
It is a great set up and the club deserves your support.
I’m afraid though, that I brought them no luck, as they drew 1-1 and lost the replay.
I have that sort of effect on teams I’m following and I am available for hire to support any side that you’d like to see get stuffed by inferior opposition.
And I work cheap!