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Lythe to East Barnby & Kettleness

Behind Yorkshire's magnificent heritage coast is a remote upland of gently rolling pastures covered by a little used network of rights of way. This 7 mile walk explores part of this most attractive area before taking the spectacular coastal path through Kettleness in the direction of Sandsend.

Distance: 7 miles

Time: 4 hours

Grade: easy

Conditions: well signed field paths

Refreshments: The Stiddy (open weekends and some evenings) and Lythe post office

OS Explorer Map OL27

Originally published: 20 November 2015

The car park opposite The Stiddy in Lythe (GR 845131) is our starting point. The landlord is happy to explain the unusual name which comes from the practice of 'firing the stiddy' (steady) or anvil  by packing it with a shot of gunpowder. Carried out from a safe distance as old photos testify the purpose is 'to make a bang' to mark special occasions. In some southern states of the USA competitions still take place where a second anvil is blown up into the air from a base anvil.

We follow the A 174 westwards towards Hinderwell. In 250 yards, just past the school go left into the grounds of the Mulgrave Community Sports Association and immediately turn right on a signed path which climbs a low bank to follow the edge of the sports ground. It then turns right, passing through a couple of gates and heads towards East Barnby a mile distant.

The first 500 yards, through trees, can be muddy but once you have left the wood there are wide views south across Mulgrave Woods. From a well placed seat you can make out the curtain walls of Mulgrave Castle, built by the de Mauleys in 1214, the towers being added in 1300. It stands high above the trees on a ridge between the valleys of the Sandsend and East Row becks. The woods are open to the public free of charge on Wednesdays. Saturdays and Sundays, except during May.

The path continues to the village street of East Barnby. Turn right uphill and in 100 yards, just past High Banks Farm, go left on a path which, after 4 gates, bears diagonally right across the next arable field up to the far corner. A polite sign (at the top end of the field), encourages walkers to follow the hedge side. The path across the next field brings you to the A 174.

Cross straight over on to a track through open pastureland. Gradually the sea and then the coastline comes into sight, the houses of Runswick Bay and the distant cliffs at Boulby being easily recognisable. It's easy going as the stiles and signs have recently been renewed by the park authority. Ignore the first stile on the left and proceed to the next, leaving behind you a prominent roofless ruin on the right.

From  a choice of routes I took the path straight across the middle of the first field and then across three more fields to the track linking the farms of Claymoor and Brockrigg. Then turn left over a cattle grid down to Claymoor where there is a panoramic view of the golden sands of Runswick Bay. The right of way passes the house and continues across two fields to a bridge over the former Redcar to Whitby railway, opened in 1883 to serve the coastal communities. Turn right along the hedge side parallel to the line.

After the first, narrow field, there's a choice of routes to Kettleness, just over half a mile away (both mapped). By joining th railway which for much of the way is a permissive path, you will pass the prominent mounds of Kettleness Iron Mine, developed in the early 20th century, before reaching the elegant Victorian station building. The alternative is to follow the Cleveland Way on your left along the cliff top to Kettleness Farm and then the village green, scattered with a variety of popular seats, some close to the existing cliff edge. An earlier village 'glided' into the sea on 17 December, 1828. No lives were lost as all the villagers had been embarked on the 'Little Henry' which was waiting in the harbour to load a cargo of alum.

Our walk continues south on one of the national park's finest coastal stretches. In the first quarter of a mile  the path passes along the edge of Kettle Ness, much transformed in the period 1728 to 1871 by the alum industry. From our vantage point it's easy to spot amidst the desolate landscape the foundations of buildings. Away on the left is the harbour from which the processed alum was shipped.

In another half mile we cross the former railway just before it entered a short tunnel to avoid the heights of Seavybog Hill. From the cliff top the wide ranging views of the coast in both directions explain why, in 368 Theodosius, the Roman military commander, built a signal station now two fields inland, one of a line of similar beacon towers (that of Scarborough Castle headland is better known) as an early warning system against barbarian sea raiders.

The path now descends past the great gash of Ovalgate Cliff and then out on to Tellgreen Hill. Here you could continue along the coastal path to Sandsend from which there are regular daily buses up Lythe Bank back to the starting point.

The main walk however goes right (signed Lythe) and whilst, in a few yards, there are distant views of Sandsend and Whitby, the scenery soon changes dramatically when we drop steeply down steps into the wooded valley of Overdale. On the far side is Deepgrove Farm from which a track leads directly to Lythe's parish church.

The church is open daily and is worth a visit for its Arts and Crafts interior and for the monuments to the Phipps family of Mulgrave Castle. There's also a fascinating display of Anglo-Scandinavian stones of the 10th and 11th centuries, discovered when the church was restored in 1911.Prominent are a slab depicting two wrestlers and hogback gravestones including one where a man is being attacked by two beasts.

From the church it's less than a quarter of a mile back to the village centre.


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