This walk starts with a tour of Saltburn before heading up the beach to Marske. The beach is used for the return route, though the walk could be continued to Redcar from which there are frequent trains and buses back to Saltburn.
Distance: 6 miles
Time: 3 hours
Refreshments: Saltburn & Marske
OS Explorer Map 306
Originally published: 16 March 2001
Saltburn is a planned holiday resort, the work of industrialist Henry Pease, who in 186l extended the railway line from Redcar to the then tiny fishing village. He also bought land from Lord Zetland on which the new town and its attractions for Victorian tourists were developed. Much of that early work and many of the attractions survive.
The walk starts outside the fine arched portico of the station, close to the point where passengers used· to be able to enter the Zetland hotel directly from the platform. From the portico, walk up Albion Terrace to the first crossroads where turn left on to Windsor Road.
On the corner is the Queen's hotel, built in 1875, opposite which is Saltburn community centre of 1910. Ahead looms the bulky mass of Huntcliff and Warsett Hill and a first glimpse of the sea. At the end, turn right into Glenside which skirts the edge of the thickly wooded ravine of Skelton Beck. In a few yards, you reach the outstanding iron fretwork bandstand, built in 1996 close to the spot where Halfpenny Bridge once crossed high above the valley.
The bridge was built in 1869, was 790ft long and 141ft high, and saved people walking the long steep gradients to and from the seashore. Sadly, it had to be demolished in 1974 when it was found to be unsafe.
Just beyond the bandstand, go left downhill through' the Valley Gardens to the sheltered Italian gardens, the kind of formal, Victorian garden which every 19th century seaside resort could boast. Many too, could claim to have a miniature railway, and Saltburn was no exception.
The railway, nearly half a mile long, still links the Italian gardens with the sea. The track was severely damaged in last autumn's floods, but repair work is already under way and a new route has already been prepared.
Follow the railway downstream along the broad path on the left bank. When you reach the wide, grassy area 200yds before the coast road, look back up the hillside on the left for a glimpse of the classical portico of the first Barnard Castle railway station, brought here by Pease to embellish the valley as a memorial to Prince Albert.
Cross the busy coast road, noticing, away to the right, the original hamlet of Saltburn with the Ship Inn and the more recent Smugglers' heritage centre. The way to Marske however is left, along the seafront to two more of Saltburn's attractions.
The pier was originally built by John Anderson in 1869 and was 1500ft long. Large signs announcing the current restoration programme give an account of its chequered history. The pier was connected directly with the town by the inclined tramway, The original lift, also built by Anderson, was replaced in 1884, but this still makes the present water-balanced structure probably the oldest in the world of its kind.
Beyond the pier, take to the beach, The spire of St Germain is visible in the dunes 2½ miles away, the sole relic of the ancient parish church of Marske. Beyond it is Redcar with its steelworks, and on a clear day the headland at Hartlepool is visible.
The beach can be walked at any state of the tide though it is preferable when the tide is low, when stretches of firm sand are revealed, the remnants of the once smooth beach over which Malcolm Campbell achieved 138.08 mph in a Sunbeam on June 17, 1922.
At the first groyne, turn up a flight of steps to reach the walled churchyard. A notice at the gate gives you precise directions to find the monument erected in memory of James Robinson, lost at sea in 1904, as well as to the memory of Captain Cook's father, who was buried nearby. Continue along the cliff top for another 200 yards to the high street, whose cottages of the 18th and 19th centuries, set above a sandy gully, are the picturesque heart of the original village.
If you now opt to continue the walk to Redcar, 2½ miles away, then return to the beach. Beyond the prominent castellated Cliff House, built by Pease as a holiday retreat, you have the choice of the beach or the Stray, a parallel grassy route through the dunes. The route back to Saltburn from Marske via the beach affords magnificent views of Huntcliff.
When you reach the concrete promenade, turn right along a wide tarmac path and then take the steep path left up to the Marine Parade. Turn sharp left along the front which curves along the cliff top and in half a mile arrives at Saltburn's finest building, once the Zetland hotel and designed by William Peachey of Darlington. It is now a flats conversion. Go down Dundas Street to return to the station.