Behind north east Yorkshire's glorious heritage coast is a remote upland of gently rolling pastures crossed by a little used network of rights of way. This 9 mile walk explores part of this most attractive area before following the spectacular coastal path from Kettleness around Runswick Bay.
We start from the free car park next to the Cliffemount Hotel high above the Bay's gently curving sandy beach. Although the village is scarcely visible from this vantage point you can explore its stepped, narrow alleyways and picturesque cottages at the end of the walk.
Distance: 9 miles
Time: 5 hours
Refreshments: Runswick Bay, Mickleby, Lythe, Goldsborough
OS Explorer Map OL27
Originally published: 8 June 2007
Walk back to the top of Runswick Bank and take the road to Ellerby. In about a quarter of a mile and in a dip in the road some 50 yards beyond the derestriction sign, take an unsigned path up the bank on the left. This leads on to the track of the former railway between Whitby and Redcar which operated between 1883 and 1958.
Follow the track for some 400 yards to a house and then turn right up a long farm lane from which there are good views of the sea and the dominant promontory of Kettle Ness. In about half a mile you will reach the A 174, the coast road.
Cross the road and cut off the corner on to the B 1266, the moor road to Guisborough. Then, by a welcome seat, turn almost immediately down West Lane and past a finely preserved section of stone trod into Mickleby, a moors village of attractive 18th and 19th century houses.
Go left here down Low Lane. In 300 yards, as an alternative to the main route, a well signed path branches off left to Bog House Farm. There are some 14 stiles to negotiate between here and East Barnby. When you reach the village street turn left.
The main route to East Barnby, though slightly longer, is through the rich grasslands watered by Dale Beck. There are few stiles. To West Barnby it is classified as a cycle way though there is little evidence of cyclists passing this way. Continue along Low Lane to within 200 yards of Mickleby Low Grange where go left through a gate and follow a series of red arrows, (some are missing),through more gates and through pastureland to the beckside. In another 50 yards go right, up to a tractor track where turn left. Then follow the track across the beck and up to West Barnby.
Turn right here through this delightful hamlet of stone cottages with pantile roofs set at angles at close proximity to one another, making for a series of most attractive corners. 300 yards beyond the houses leave the lane by going left on a path which crosses a field diagonally to join the alternative route. Go right over two fields into East Barnby and turn left up the village street.
In 50 yards go right on a delightful wooded contour path which leads in just over a mile to Lythe. Through gaps in the trees there are fine views down into Mulgrave Woods where the de Mauleys built a castle in 1214, surrounding it with a huge hunting park which stretched up to the paling which once ran along the line of our path. Through another gap in the trees Whitby Abbey is glimpsed some 4 miles away.
Lythe is entered around a new sports field. (An hourly bus returns to Runswick Bay from here if you wish to halve the walk). Turn right when you reach the A 174 and follow the village street towards Whitby. The parish church with its striking spire soon comes into view. It's worth a visit for its interesting collection of Anglo-Saxon stones including one of two men wrestling. There are also monuments to the family of the Marquess of Normanby, the owner of the Mulgrave estate.
Take the farm lane that runs by the side of the church and continue straight ahead in a few yards when it turns right to Deepdale Farm. Our path now crosses two fields before descending on a fine stone causeway to cross the beck which runs through Over Dale. Overdale Farm is some 300 yards beyond the bridge. Pass between the farm buildings to a junction from which two routes have been mapped to Kettleness.
1. If you go right and then left after the first field you will join the Cleveland Way at Tellgreen Hill where the tranquil landscape we have been passing through is replaced by high cliffs, breaking waves and the cries of seabirds. Go left on the Way for just over a mile into Kettleness.
2. The slightly shorter alternative is to go left along the farm track from Overdale Farm to a tarred lane where turn right into Goldsborough. About 100 yards beyond the Fox and Hounds and on the far side of this tiny hamlet, go right on a path which passes to the
right of a large barn and is well signed across two fields to a slight eminence commanding a wide aspect of the sea. Here. in 368, Theodosius, the Roman military commander, built a signal station, one of a line of similar beacon towers, (that on Scarborough castle headland is a better known example), as an early warning system against barbarian sea raiders.
The path now leads down over two fields and to the right of a former chapel on the edge of Kettleness..Turn right past the elegant former Victorian station, its size appearing disproportionate to the tiny cluster of houses perched near the edge of the cliff. But then the railway played a prominent role in opening up the area and had to impress visitors.
Now, from Kettleness both routes follow the Cleveland Way northwards along the cliff tops and then down many steps to the beach for the last half mile to Runswick Bay. To return to the top from the village try the steps that climb steeply from the Royal Hotel to connect with a tarred path which completes the ascent.