The Cleveland Way, Day 8, Whitby to Robin Hood's Bay

Expected Mileage: 6.0
Actual Mileage: 7.75 from B&B to B&B

Accommodations: The Villa
Rating: Very Nice!
Date: Monday, May 14, 2018

Hi Leslie and Mike,

We have have finished our day and have settled in Robin Hood’s Bay though we are still waiting on our luggage drop at 5:00 pm.  Hard to believe we have only 2 days left on the trail.  Just a week ago we were starting out fresh. We have definitely put some miles on our feet, 7.75 today from B&B to B&B.   I would have to add the total up but it seems like we must be near 100.

Our hosts at No 7 Guest House in Whitby served breakfast at 8:30 sharp, no other option, so that is when we ate.  The host husband was a jolly type and he sat in the dining room talking to us and another couple and fussed with the fresh flowers in the room.  His wife was also outgoing and funny.  We were in no rush and finally got out the door just before 10:00 AM.

No 7 Guest House, Whitby (yellow building). We had a room on then second floor behind the wrought iron trim.

We had been dreading the 199 steps from Old Town Whitby to the Whitby Abbey and St. Mary Anglican Church where we were to pick up the trail but we have done so many steps that these didn’t even phase us.  We lingered at the cliff top so I could walk through the church (you know I have a crazy fascination with old religious sites) and we could view the Abbey ruins and the Old cemetery but after about 30 minutes, it was time to move on.

Beginning the 199 step climb.
I am most of the way up the steps at this point, looking back on the lovely village of Whitby.
*BTW, Whitby is famous for a stone called Whitby Jet, which is an organic stone naturally formed from fossilized wood. Queen Victoria was a patron of the stone and wore it exclusively during her period of mourning. As a person who collects jewelry for travel souvenirs, I was pleased to add a pendant of Whitby Jet to my collection.
*Another little tidbit, Whitby is also the setting for Bram Stoker’s gothic novel, Dracula
St. Mary’s Anglican Church
Caedmon’s Cross, a tribute to the earliest English poet whose name is known. Caedmon was a monk at Whitby Abbey
Whitby Abbey was once an Anglo-Saxon monastery for men and women, founded in 657 AD The piece of gothic abbey still standing was started in 1220 AD. I am always in awe of the ancient history and architecture in European cities.

The trail was much the same as the past few days, hugging the edge of high cliffs, watching soaring sea gulls and catching a glimpse of freighters far out at sea.  We hiked through pastures of sheep and cows, crossing through elaborate gates between pastures. A slight difference was the walking through ravines.  We hiked up and down ravines via steps in some cases and up and down via trail in others (there was not much walking around the ravines on this day). There were more people on the trail today than any day in the past. This is probably because two long distance trails merged about 3 miles outside Robin Hood’s Bay, Cleveland Way and Coast to Coast. Distance walkers mingled with a number of day walkers.

Some areas along the cliffs were separating and collapsing toward the sea. These areas were blocked off and the trail had been slightly rerouted.
Unknown ruin, exposed with the lower tide.
The trail followed a rutted farmer’s road
Sheep grazing trailside.

One of the most interesting sites was a lighthouse.  It seemed to be a modern lighthouse, not one that sat on a tall structure lile most we have seen in other places but was attached to the keepers house.  A huge black fog horn was attached to one structure and a light attached to another (I will attach a picture). We wondered, with the increased use of GPS systems, if lighthouses are still used as often.

This series of buildings is called the Whitby Fog Signal Station which accounts for the big black fog horn,.
The trail goes behind the light house perimeter wall.

Robin Hood’s Bay came in sight right on schedule, about 3 hours into our hike.  We struggled a little bit with our lodging location because the instructions were packed in my suitcase (whoops) but a nice, local lady found us looking at what information I did have and walked us almost here. 

Coming into town

The Villa is another very charming guest house. We have more space than last night but we are still tripping over suitcases. We have a window that opens (we felt suffocated last night as the window was locked) and a quick walk to the old section of town. The road to the old city is a very steep drop to the sea but since we did not hike as far today, we are ok with it. We did our exploring early and plan to stay “high” near our b&b for dinner (spoiler alert, we ate at a pub…fish and chips).

Our lodging for the evening, The Villa. We were on the 2nd floor, room with the 2 windows (on the right)
Our sweet bedroom
And decorative only fireplace.

Robin Hood’s Bay is an interesting village with many narrow alleys and stone buildings tucked amongst the alleys.  We are told it was built this way so bounty could be easily hidden and escapes made when necessary.

We walked the winding, narrow roads of Robin Hood’s Bay
While there is apparently no evidence for association with Robin Hood, by the 18th century, the secluded location made Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire’s busiest smuggling port. Locals built a maze of underground hiding places with passages linking houses. Later fishing took over as the mainstay.
Narrow alleys
The North Sea and Robin Hood’s Bay beach. We did make it to the beach to put our feet in the sea.

Tomorrow we are not sure of our plans.  We will walk out a ways and come back and take the bus or take the bus to Scarbrough and hike back a ways.

Btw, I laughed at your dream about finding me with cotton around my feet.  I think it was a sympathy dream.  But, you are not all wrong.  We are walking through and by big clumps of wool.  The sheep are shedding and wool is stuck on barb wire fences and along the ground on the trail.  John said that if I had been picking it up as we went along, you and Carol would have enough to spin for sweaters.

Couple of additional things I am trying to remember that don’t fit in anywhere:

1.  The air is not salty here.  I keep licking my lips expecting to taste salt and I do not.  We also don’t smell the sea in the constant, cooling breeze. We will miss the breeze when we return to Knoxville and it’s heat and humidity.

2.  On the list of things we miss, our sheets and blankets.  Beds here are made up will a fitted sheet and a comforter, no sheets or blankets.  There are summer wt comforters and winter wt.  Most beds are still made up with winter wt, hard to manage sleeping temps.

That’s it for tonight (luggage showed up at 6:30 pm).  Got to get ready for Day 9-by bus and foot.


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The Cleveland Way, Day 7, Staithes to Whitby

Expected Mileage: 11.0
Actual Mileage: 12.5

Accommodations: No.7 Guest House
Rating: Very Good, location is excellent
Date: Sunday, May 13, 2018

Hello Mike and Leslie,

Today is Day 7.  I think I was confused yesterday and we don’t want to repeat days (apparently in the title of the email I sent to Leslie yesterday, I said that yesterday was day 7)!  Staithes had a steady rain overnight. We woke to a heavy fog and a questionable weather forecast. We packed full rain gear and mentally prepared for the worst but the rain held off and we hiked under mostly cloudy skies.  

Soggy morning view from our second floor room at the Roraima House in Staithes.
We said good-bye to Staithes under cloudy skies with a seagull soaring overhead. As you can see, the tide was out.

Today’s walk took us 12.5 miles from B&B to B&B, mostly over cliff tops overlooking the sea.

Never got tired of the sounds of the sea rolling against the cliffs, the seagulls soaring in the air currents and the sound of wind rustling through the grasses.
This picture is a little dark but honestly, we hiked under gray, threatening skies most of the day and the landscape was at times dark and dramatic.
Sometimes the path wound around the ravines amongst the cliffs….
Sometimes the path dropped down around a ravine then a series of steps led us up to the next cliff.

Every few miles we would drop down near the sea and pass through a little fishing/tourist village with such names as Port Mulgrove, Runswick Bay, Sandsend and finally our destination, Whitby.  The villages were fun to walk through and in the case of Runswick Bay, our path took us across the beach and back up a cliff on the otherside.  We did a little beachcombing and picked up small stones for our rock collection. Lots of steps again today!

The path down to Runswick Bay
We were warned the shore at Runswick Bay might not be passable on during high tide on a stormy day but we obviously hit low tide. It was fun to walk in the sand and search for shells.
What goes down must come up on this trail and here is John headed up the steps out of Runswick Bay.

We saw more people on the trail than in past days. Most were up from a nearby villages out for a walk with their dog (s). The miles went by reasonably quick and my feet did not hurt as much till toward the end of the day.  Both of us were ready to be here about 2 miles before we arrived.  

Looking back on Runswick Bay
A proper English countryside estate.
Throughout the 10 days of hiking the path led us through farm fields. We saw many types of gates and crossings. This was an interesting crossing we scrambled over on this day. Beyond the crossing, the path continues on the right-side of the field. We were always respectful of a farmer’s property and appreciative that right of ways were provided for The Cleveland Way.
Seaside village of Sandsend coming into view.
Below the seawall at Sandsend
Sandsend is a charming village. We observed several hotels, restaurants and a golf course on the outskirts of the village. From here we walked along the road to Whitby. The tide was coming in so we could not follow the shoreline at sea level.

Whitby is the largest village we have been in since York.  Like the rest of the seaside villages, it sits on a hill with a steep decent or ascent to get to or from the water.

Arriving on the outskirts of Whitby.

Our B&B reminds me of some of the old hotels I have stayed in NYC, elegant but very small rooms.  We can almost touch wall to wall if we reach our arms out and forget leaving suitcases open, we couldn’t get around them.  However the shower is good and they have a set of the item we most miss on this trip, the washcloth.

View from the window balcony of our B&B In the distance on the hill are the ruins of Whitby Abbey.
Whitby is a picturesque tourist town!
A wide boardwalk follows the seawall from town to the sea.

Whitby reminds us of a Gatlinburg type town in the area around the water with arcades, ice cream stands and lots of people. The rest of the city appears to be a normal seaside village. We had fish and chips for dinner at a restaurant called Magpie Cafe.  This is my 3rd meal of fish and chips and I am over it!  Why do I think I like the heavily breaded, greasy, tasteless fish?  No more for me!!

We keep eating fish and chips….. I said “no more” but there will be more!
Our restaurant, The Magpie Cafe
The Whitby tourist strip crowded with people, ice cream shops, t shirt-gift shops and restaurants

Well, I can see from our large picture window in our room, the streetlights have turned on.The last of the pink sunset is fading on the horizon beyond the sea and Whitby is rolling up it’s sidewalks on this Sunday evening.  It’s about our bedtime.  Six miles tomorrow to Robin Hood’s Bay (yes that Robin Hood) and we then have to decide whether to hike the 15 mile day or take the bus.  Talk to you tomorrow…


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The Cleveland Way, Day 6, Saltburn-by-the Sea to Staithes

Expected Mileage: 9.0
Actual Mileage: 10.0
Best Part of the Day: This was the most beautiful hiking day so far.
Worst Part of the Day: The difficulties I continued to have with feet and as of this day, blisters around ankles.
Bonus: An amazing B&B

Accommodations: Roraima House
Rating: One of the best, favorite host and hostess (tied with Willow Tree on Day 1)
Date: Saturday, May 12, 2018

Hello Leslie and Mike,

We are in the marvelous seaside village of Staithes in the Roraima House B&B.

No problem with that SLOW sign 😉 , by this point of the day, we were not going fast.
Hiking on the North Sea section of The Cleveland Way from seaside village to village was reminiscent to hiking between villages in Cinque Terre, Italy, only the distance between the villages was much further and the treat at the end here was fish and chips. These seaside villages (in this case, Staithes) were full of history. We would have enjoyed having more time, and for me less painful feet, to explore the villages.

  The b&b is run by a charming couple named Jane and Jon Kirpatrick, she is from this area, he is from the US (Cleveland, Ohio). Long story about how they met but they purchased this inn  last fall from a retiring couple.   They are our best hosts so far (actually tied with the Willow Tree) and it is lovely to talk to someone who sounds just like us.  

Our adorable B&B was located at the top of a hill, which was a steep climb from the waterfront where most of the shops and restaurants were located. We were happy to discover the trail the next day began on top of this hill.

Our room, on the 2nd floor,  is large and airy with big windows overlooking the cliffs we crossed today.  We have a  big, cozy canopy bed and a huge bathroom.  It is a good place to rest and recover.

Comfy bed. In one of the posts I mention that most European beds are made up with a bottom sheet and comforter only. The comforters are winter and summer weight. Unfortunately for us the winter weight comforters were still in use so we slept hot….most nights.
We ate dinner at the Captain Cook Inn and Pub (photo from their website). A lady we hiked with many days who was also on an Absolute Escapes planned trip, stayed here and liked it. The Inn was located at near our B&B so we did not have to walk down and up the steep hill for dinner. A win for me.
Obviously we were not done with fish and chips on this trip.I remember this as one of the better fish and chips meals we had. The choices in a pub are limited and fish and chips was our best option.

We walked 10 miles today including the distance to our inn. The walk was very different from other days in that the North Sea was in sight all day.  But like every other day, the morning started with an uphill trek and in this case, the climb was 200 or so steps up to the top of the cliff.  Ouch!

Cliff walking
Windmill farm

We spent our day walking  along the cliff’s edge watching the sea gulls catch the wind currents coming up the side of the cliff.  So beautiful to see them soar.  The path was narrow and we often had to step off for local walkers and their dogs.  Two words to describe every dog we have come in contact with so far,  “well mannered”.  (This was the first time a door opened in my mind about getting a dog-John had been talking about it for years. We now have a dog and “well-mannered” does not come easily. I love our little girl but WHAT WAS I THINKING???)

We stopped here to eat lunch and look at the sea.
The views are endless
The acorn and yellow arrow mark our path. Glorious walking through sunny rapeseed fields

The scenery didn’t change much.  At one point we had to walk down off the cliff and go through a jetty at sea level. A little seaside village named Skinningrove sat on the otherside of the jetty, just before the next cliff we had to climb. It was very nondescript group of houses and other buildings but it had lovely clean, beachside bathrooms and a little food truck where I got a regular Pepsi for energy. Then, of course we had the obligatory 200+ steps up to the next cliff.  

Steps down the cliff. The trail goes through the jetty.
A traditional fishing coble, this particular boat was once owned by a fisherman from Skinningrove who died in the 80’s. The boat has been refinished and is a memorial to all Skinningrove fisherman who have died at sea.
The seaside village of Skinningrove. Yep, steps back up to the cliffs.
Looking back at Skinningrove, a village of only a few streets but friendly and Ohhhh, that Pepsi!

I am having a lot of trouble with my feet, mostly tenderness on the tops where my foot bends as I walk – struggling muscles and tendons I guess. Also some arch discomfort.  Took me a while to get warmed up today and I had a lot of starts and stops to adjust and fidget.  John who is usually pretty tolerant of my bad days walked ahead at times.  His knee is bothering him some but mostly only if he sits for long.  He is dreading the 14 mile day and keeps talking about a cab.  I have been against it until today.  Now I say maybe, I am not sure my feet will get me through the remaining 42 miles.  Tomorrow, an 11.5 mile day promises a few more uphill challenges and a potential high tide challenge.

Along with my foot issues,I am having  issues with my hiking socks, either a wool reaction (although I wear liner socks) or heat rash.  I have big welts around and above my ankles.  As long as I don’t touch them, they don’t itch.  Oh well, if it isn’t one thing, it is another.  

Guess that is about it for tonight, I have left some things out but I got most of it and some complaining in 😊 so I think I will call it a night!


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The Cleveland Way, Day 5, Great Ayton to Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Actual Hike: As Billed (we walked to our hotel from the trail)
Expected Mileage: 12.5
Actual Mileage: 12.5
Worst Part of the Day: Realizing that my feet are going to be an on going problem
Best Part of the Day: Reaching the sea
Bonus: A nice moderate sized grocery in Saltburn that provided the opportunity to stock up on trail foods

Accommodations: Victorian Guest House
Rating: Nice accommodations, lovely host and hostess
Date: Friday, May 11, 2018

Hey Leslie and Mike!

We made it, Saltburn by the Sea. The North Sea is just down a few blocks, oh and down a cliff from our little B&B.  But I am ahead of myself.

We started hiking this morning around 9:00 am.  One of the hotel owners, drove us from the village of Great Ayton to the parking lot where we ended our hike yesterday, a 4 mile drive. 

Looking back at Cooks Monument as we began our day.

Another steep climb to the top of our final heather covered Moor.

Our last hike up to a Moor. Both happy for our progress and sad to leave the familiar behind.

  We walked a mile or so across the top and came to the turn off trail for one of the “destination points” on the walk, Roseberry Topping. John says Roseberry looks like a Hershey Kiss standing alone in a field.  As much as we would have liked to hike to the top, it was an out and back hike of about 1.5 miles and we had a long day ahead.

Roseberry Topping

The views of the Yorkshire farmlands from the banks of the Moor were spectacular.  We could see lush green grasses with sheep scattered among the fields outlined by ancient stone walls. 

These views never got old.

Every so often large swathes of bright yellow flowers filled the land between the walls.  If we looked hard enough toward the horizon, we could see the North Sea and a water bound windmill farm with about 20 or so windmills twirling in the stiff breeze.  I wish I had the ability to write descriptives to give you a clearer picture of what we saw. So very beautiful. 

Off the Moors and headed to the forests.

All too soon (John says maybe not soon enough) we left the Moors, heather and talking grouse behind and spent the rest of the day in forests, farmland and walking through villages.

Checking the directions. We had just come out of the forest and crossed a very busy highway . We were headed up the embankment behind John. The trail is in the bottom right corner of this photograph.
Yep, sheep and farmland.

While it was slightly warmer today, the wind was…fierce.  Yes, fierce kept rolling off our lips. I couldn’t keep a cap on my head, John had his clinched down tightly.  Every once and a while our poles or our bodies would blow slightly off course.  It was that kind of day.  Sometimes the wind was warm, some times cool.  We wore long pants, layered shirts and lots of sunscreen.  The sun was in and out of the clouds for a while and then it was cloudy.

The trail was mostly well marked and we really only questioned ourselves a couple of times, specifically as we walked across the fields of Airy Hill Farm into the village of Skelton. The field marking was a little sketchy, especially along the farm access road.  “There’s your sign”  one of us would whoop as we spied the white acorn trail marker or wooden arrow sign post.  Unlike day one, we have figured out how to read our guidebook and have our map turned to the right section.  

The path to the village of Skelton

The last couple of miles today were long and a little painful, mostly through woodlands between Skelton and Saltburn then navigating our way through Saltburn to our B&B.  Including our walk through town, we covered just over 12 miles. Oh my weak feet!  

Coming into Skelton
Railway viaduct over Skelton Beck

Our b&b, the Victorian House, is a little different. It is owned by a lady in her early 70’s and her husband.  Our ensuite  room has an outside entrance next to her row house.  With the window and door configuration, we think it may have been a shop at one time. The room is nice, fairly comfy bed, large overstuffed chairs, kitchenette and tv. The water is on a pump system so everytime we turn it on, a pump starts running.  We are at a street crossroad and can definitely hear the traffic.

Our first seaside village, Saltburn by the Sea.
The weather was still too cool to be tourist season….lucky for us!

So Sue, our hostess, gave us this room on the first floor because of our luggage.  We are embarrassed by the size and weight of our luggage, me especially. While everything is underweight, it is WAY more than most people are having transported.  “I was going to put you on the 3rd floor,” Sue told us, “but your luggage is a bit heavy to carry up the steps…”  We are going to rethink our packing lists when we get home.Finally, while our feet and legs did not want to walk down the cliff to the seaside, we sat on a bench overlooking the sea, watching the surfers and enjoying the sights and sounds.  It has been a good day. We are 1/2 done today, 5 more days to walk, all by the sea.

We finally reached the North Sea! I had been waiting for this day! Even though my only trips to the ocean/sea over the last 20 years have involved backpacking or hiking, I love the sites and sounds of the sea.
Between too much wind burn and swollen eyes from too little good rest, we look pretty darn rough. I hesitated to post this picture but realized it was our reality on day 5 of this hike.



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The Cleveland Way, Day 4, Great Broughton to Great Ayton

So much craziness with this Covid-19. On the positive side, I have a little time on my hands so I can continue with our Cleveland Way journey. Last I wrote, we had finished our 3rd day on the trail, overnighting in Great Broughton with Hippie Dave at Dromonby Bridge.

Actual Hike: As Billed (Hotel car drove us to Great Ayton)
Expected Mileage: 11
Actual Mileage: 12
Worst Part of the Day: my feet began giving me serious trouble
Best Parts of the Day: 1) Chatty Grouse, 2) Hotel lobby pub with fish and chips
Bonus: A shop next door to the hotel to buy food for following day’s walk (all is right with the world again!!)

Accommodations: Royal Oak Hotel
Rating: Ok, nice to stay in a hotel with a pub in the lobby
Date: Thursday, May 10, 2018

Dear Leslie,

We are in Great Ayton tonight in the Royal Oak Hotel.  Our room is small and nice enough but for the suitcases, daypacks boots and sink washed laundry everywhere. Oh, and the shower is wimpy and the toilet is a partial flusher.  Great Ayton appears to be a lovely village but as we are discovering, we are too tired to explore.

Today was a touch over 12.0 miles.  While yesterday was much more difficult, today almost got the best of me.  I haven’t slept well for 2 nights and am very weary.  My overly sensitive feet are beginning to complain and my left toe is a blister.  Funny, the toe doesn’t hurt (but oh the feet did and this was just the beginning of 6 painful days). 

Today we began with a steep climb onto Round Top Moor and about 2/3’s  of the day was spent hiking on top of a series of Moors.  Heather on the Moors is managed by the Park Service to promote the breeding and nesting of grouse.  Sections are burned for the tender regrowth which the grouse like. 

The yellow flowers are rapeseed grown in spring for the oil. We were told rapeseed is a relatively new crop for the Brits. The yellow brightens the countryside.

 I have enjoyed watching the grouse over the last few days as they telescope their heads out of the brush to scope us out.  They will then duck their heads down and start “talking” across the Moor making sounds that I imagine a group of excited, old ladies make when chattering together. The grouse are nesting and we must have gotten too close to a nest as we were chased on the trail and fussed at by a grouse.  Btw, grouse hunting is a big money maker here.

This is one fussy grouse!
A grouse butt for hunting

The trail over the Moors was great, wide enough for a vehicle and mostly smooth… easy walking. AND it was all sand!  Yes, we are marching toward the North Sea.  We will be there tomorrow night!!

Sandy trail across the Moors. The heather is thick on both sides.

Did I mention the wind??  It was cold and  relentless. We started in shorts and long sleeves and quickly pulled on our jackets and zipped on our pant legs.  I wore a ball cap for a while but it kept blowing off.  I packed my gloves and neck gaitor for tomrrow as my hands froze today.  The temperature on the Moors was below 60F and a mixture of sun and clouds!  Perfect for the endless views of the Yorkshire valley below.

At 9.5 mi, we dropped off the last Moor for the day and walked by road ( which is part of the path) into the tiny village of Kildale. We had been looking forward to a cup of tea at the only tea house in town and found a ” for rent” sign on the door.  No tea for us.

  A quick left and right and we were headed toward Captain Cook’ s monument.  This part of the hike is a blur, it hurt!  We had a viciously, ugly 3/4 mi climb on the road.  I felt like my knees were touching my nose.  We turned off onto a forest path into a Lurch tree forest which was shady, beezy and realatvely flat.

Forest path on the way to Captain Cook’s monument.

  One last short climb and we were at the monument. YAY! 

Cook’s monument-James Cook was born in Cleveland and attend school in Great Ayton. You know the rest.

After enjoying the 360 views, we called the hotel and they picked us up at a car park at the bottom of a hill.  Yeah!  Finished by 4:30 pm.  

Love you,


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Frozen Head (Again) Bird Mtn and Lookout Tower Trls 2-22-2020

As it turns out, Frozen Head State Park is a great place for us to hike. Not only is the park convenient, located an hour’s drive from Knoxville, but it is dog friendly and has a number of easy, moderate and challenging trails, most previously unexplored by us. Over the past six weeks we have hiked all but one short trail out of the Old Mac Parking lot so on this hike we targeted a couple of trails which form Bird Mountain Loop Trail out of Big Cove Campground.

We arrived at Big Cove about 10:00 am, later than planned as John went to work to help a student earlier in the morning. A group of six hikers about our age pulled into the parking lot at same time. Although we fiddled with the dog and stopped to look at Big Cove Branch Creek, we ended up leapfrogging with the faster members of the group the first 2 miles of the hike. This isn’t a bad thing, especially since they knew where they were going, we weren’t 100% sure and one of the trails had been renamed since our 2013 map was printed. Thing is, when one is huffing and puffing up steep and endless switchbacks, it can be a little frustrating to pass someone and have them turn around and pass you back, again and again and again!

Big Cove Branch just beyond the trailhead.
Snow is visible on the distant mountains.

We climbed the “sunny” side of Bird Mountain, 1.8 miles of steep switchbacks and heated up fast. Seems like we stopped or slowed often to peel layers, down jackets, gloves, neck gaiters and hats. I left my fleece vest on way too long.

The trail is narrow in spots and rocky. Every time we thought we were going to circle around the back of the mountain, a switchback took us up another level.
As we neared the top of the mountain, a massive rock formation looms above.
Hmmm, still climbing. A little more trailside snow is visible.
Side view of the rocks, the trail runs along side the formation.

Finally we hit ridge top and the view from both sides of the mountains was spectacular. Our trail junction was located here and what we expected to be marked as Bird Mountain Trail had been renamed as the Cumberland Trail.

The view from “the other side” of Bird Mountain. Frozen Head is really beautiful this time of year with the bare trees.

Bird Mountain highpoint, 3000′, is on the Cumberland Trail, about .55 miles of climbing past the trail junction. As one of the hikers from the group of six told us as she arrived, “the worst climbing is over now. Oh, we still have more up but nothing like what we have just done.” The trail stays on or just below the Bird Mountain ridge for another 2.4 miles.

The snow line is very visible in this photo. The sunny side is on the right, not so much on the left.
The puppy likes snow!
Sorta smiling, sorta not.
As we dropped down the side of the mountain, the snow got deeper. Not bad hiking but we had to be careful.
West Lookout Tower Trail

The last leg of the loop is closed by the West Tower Trail, about 2.5 miles on a jeep road. While we initially thought our hike down would be easier, we were wrong. The road was muddy, rocky and quad burning. On the other hand, our pup Katie found pure joy in the drainage creek along side the road.

The puppy likes muddy water!
Linlog Branch near the bottom of the jeep road.
Our route, #12-Bird Mountain Trail, #12-Cumberland Trail and #1-West Lookout Tower Trail

Total mileage for the day was 7.8 miles, which included 1/2 miles to and from the lower Big Cove parking lot. The first 2.5 miles of the hike is rated difficult and the rest, rated moderate. John said my “whine” factor was high but it usually is early in the season. We will be back to hike this loop again in another 6-8 weeks.

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The Cleveland Way, Day 3, Osmotherley to Clay Bank

Actual Hike: As Billed (B&B host drove us to Great Broughton)
Expected Mileage: 11
Actual Mileage: 12
Times I cursed the trail: 3, for hours- up and over Cringle, Cold and Hasty Bank Moors
Nights we have now had trail snacks in our room for dinner: 2 (out of 3 days on the trail)

Accommodations: Dromonby Bridge
Rating: Interesting, Good
Date: Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Notes: The things we imagined doing while we were home in the planning process, like exploring in the villages and eating dinner at local pubs did not happen as often as we would have liked. This is my biggest regret of the trip. We were mostly very tired after 5-8 hours of walking (8-14 miles) each day. Taking on another 2-4 or more miles did not appeal. We missed poking around some interesting places and we missed eating dinner on a number of evenings. This evening in Great Broughton included.

This post (below) to my sister was just a handful of bullet points I wanted to remember. I was too tired to write much. I will fill in a bit but this post will be more photos and less words. You will have to forgive me for posting so many pictures. While this was our hardest day, the difficulty brought with it one of the most beautiful days on the trail.

Dear Leslie,

We are in Great Broughton tonight at the Dromonby Bridge B&B after a challenging 12.0 miles across the Yorkshire Moors, or should I say, up and down.  Did I say fields of lavender yesterday, oh my, I meant fields of Heather, I must have thought I was in France.  So this evening after some social tea time accompanied by a sleeve of cookies, was followed by a dinner of cheese and apples (left over from lunch) in the room and showers, it is almost time to go to bed.

In lieu of a lengthy “write” I am going to list some phrases and hope I get a chance to write about them in detail.  It has been a rewarding, demanding day and one to remember.  Speaking of demanding, so proud of your and Mike’s walking. Two miles is a great place to start and is 2 miles further than you were walking a month ago (little steps = big changes).  We are like you and need to change in our diet when we get home.


The views never got old!

Notes: We started our hike from our B&B in Osmotherley, which accounts for most of the extra mileage. The walking was not difficult for a while. We following the amazing stone walls through lush green fields. Carefully following the trail so as to not tromp on active farms.

If you look closely you can see the trail running a few feet to the right of the wall.
We entered a farmer’s field, though this cattle gate, though the field and to the right into the forest.
Lovely flowers trailside in the forest.
The the climb to the top of Live Moor.
On the top of Live Moor looking in the distance to Roseberry Topping
Looking south-west over Live Moor.
Walking among the fields of heather.
Standing beside a trig pillar and boundary stone on Carlton Moor. So lucky to be doing this but I don’t really look like I am smiling…
You can see the trail running down the Moor, across a flattish area and up and over the next Moor. A less elaborate stone wall is visible, reinforced by wooden fencing.
Up, up and away!
Always fascinated by the stone walls. The trail marches down one Moor and right up another. If you look closely, you can see another hiker just beyond the 1st stone wall.
John on the final ascent to Hasty Bank.
Looking back from where we came.
And here we are on Hasty Bank and the Wain Stones. All we have to do is find a phone signal, call our B&B host then walk another 3/4 of mile and finish the final, very steep descent to the road to Clay Bank and wait for our host.


1. Straight up and down, no switchbacks, rock lines trail and steps.
So I may have exaggerated a little bit, a few switchbacks but not many. Some gravel on the trail but mostly rock, and yes, steps up the Moors.

2. Two gradual climbs and descents, 3 wicked ones: Cringle, Cold and Hasty 
The gradual climbs came early and the ascents and descents along the Moors became steeper, ending with a very steep descent off Hasty.

3. Amazing views of Yorkshire fields
Not much else needs to be said of that.

4. First glimpse of the North Sea on Cringle Moor in the horizon.  We are headed that way.
John caught a glimpse of the North Sea from the top of one of the Moors, very faint, very far away. Exciting and encouraging but we were still two days away.

5. Tea house with thatch roof on the trail, tea cakes, strawberry jam and well, diet coke for me, tea for John
Located past Carlton Moor, we were so happy to stumble on Lord Stones café . It is bunker style and partially hidden by trees so there isn’t much notice except that a road runs behind the bunker. The café is located trailside! The food is homemade and it was hard to choose but we decided on tea cakes.

The front of Lord Stones café, popular with hikers and those traveling by car.
Tea cakes, butter, strawberry jam and Diet Coke for me.

6. More people on trail
We saw more people on the trail than the past two days.

7. Talking grouse
Grouse mating season is April and May. The heather fields were alive with grouse talking to each other. I believe there is more on this in a post to come.

8. Cooler temps, sun in and out of clouds.
Thankfully it had cooled down because we were in the sun most of the day.

9. Very windy and cold at top of Moors.
Enough said.

10. Janet missed trail.
We hiked with Janet for a while then she wanted to hike by herself. She ended up loosing the trail around Hasty and finally found a sweet spot where her phone would work. While Dave drove us to the B&B, we talked her up and down Hasty. He settled us in with a cup of tea (of course) and went back for her.

11. Hippie Dave our inn keeper
Our B&B host, Dave was a 60’s hippie. We called him Hippie Dave. He couldn’t have been nicer. He warmly offered to drive us to a local pub for dinner but all Janet, John and I could think about was getting off our feet and going to sleep.

12. Old English house with floral everything including lampshades and curtains as doors to keep out drafts
EVERYTHING in this 2 story B&B was floral (except for the well-worn and comfy leather couches). The drapes, lampshades, wallpaper, bedspreads and so forth. Curtains (floral, naturally) hung in doorways to keep the out drafts. Definitely an interesting, unusual and comfortable B&B.

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The Cleveland Way, Day 2, Sutton Bank to Osmotherley

Actual Hike: As billed
Expected Mileage: 11
Actual Mileage: 8.73 (+1 mile to town and back) = 9.73 miles
Times We Were Awed by the Scenery: All day long
Times I called Heather, Lavender in this post: 3

Accommodations: Braemar B&B
Rating: Lovely room and bath
Date: Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Dear Leslie,

Good day today!  The longer hike yesterday paid off, only 8.73 miles today to reach our B&B in Osmotherley.

Hiking was decidedly different today.  This morning our hosts from the Willow Tree drove us 1-1/2 mi uphill to the trailhead. Yesterday we walked the very steep hill down from the trail to the B&B and were happy not to tack it on to our hike today.

Notes: This was a total surprise as Diana’s husband cranked up his Mercedes wagon, grabbed our day packs and piled us and Janet into his car so we would not have walk back up the steep hill. None of us were “purists” so we did not feel the need to walk back to the barns to start where we ended. I think it was less than 1/2 mile but apparently that is something some hikers do choose to do. Our luggage was transported from B&B to B&B by a Cleveland Way transport service that can be hired via an outfitter such as Absolute Escapes or hired by an individual.

Our hike ‘walk’ started in the forest and quickly opened up to an old partially graveled road called the Hambleton Drove Road which was used to move sheep and cattle hundreds of years ago.  We walked this road most of the way to Osmotherley.  

Notes: This piece of the Way is a historic route by which Scottish cattle were driven on foot to English markets in the 18th and 19th centuries. The road is actually much older than this with ancient documents referring to it as early as medieval times. It is one of the oldest roads in England.

Once a road for moving sheep and cattle, now part of the Cleveland Way. Note the heather on both sides of the trail.

The road was lined on one side, by a stone wall that stood about 5′ tall (maintenance of the walls is ongoing and impressive). Since we were walking on top of the Moors, we could see for miles and  the wall seemed to go on forever ( it was replaced by wire fencing after 3 or so miles).  Looked a bit like the Great Wall of China, on a smaller scale. Sheep and little lambs were free range grazing.  They kept their distance.  

Free range sheep
These sheep are cute.

The most amazing thing about the hike today is that on both sides of the trail were fields of lavender (I sure did get this wrong, it was HEATHER!).  The Moors are covered in lavender (heather).  I can only image the fields when the lavender (heather) is in bloom. We have been told it is a spectacular sight and a very crowded time to be on the trail.

Today we hiked off and on with a lady named Janet who is from Ottawa, Canada.  I believe she is 67-68, a retired translator. Her trip was booked through the same company and staying at the same B&B’s till we get to Whitby where she will spend 2 nights.  She is pleasant company to hike with and is less directionally challenged. Btw, the trail was well marked today.

Notes: we stopped and ate lunch along the trail. Diana our host in Boltby fixed a sack lunch that was non memorable. We were glad to have it though because there was no where for us to get food along the trail. We also carried peanut butter crackers and other snacks from home.

Osmotherley is ahead!
Coming into town on the Cleveland Way.
The stone opening is called a sheep sneck. Best I can figure, this is a trail block to keep sheep in or out of town. The Cleveland Way continues around the stone wall onto the main street.

We got into Osmotherley around 1:00 pm,  found our B&B and knocked on the door (we could hear the lawn mower running in the back yard).  We tried a couple of times, no answer so we walked back to town. Since the b&b is about 1/2 mi from the main circle (in town) we added 1-1/2 miles to our day with this out- back-out adventure.  

This is our B&B. Several rooms upstairs had been converted to guest lodging. We stayed in the room to the left. I believe these folks had this guest house up for sale. He was an airline pilot and she, an inn keeper with small children.

We sat outside at the Queen Catherine Pub drinking pints of coca cola and eating ham sandwiches till a more proper time of 3:00 pm for b&b arrival. The door was opened promptly. The weather has been low 70’s, clear, breezy and sunny today. 

Picture of Queen Catherine Hotel and Pub from their website, not my files.
For our lunch we sat outside under one of the umbrellas, enjoying the sunshine and talking with Janet who showed up not long after we arrived.

Btw, these little English villages remind me of the British comedys.  I can now visualize where the stories come from.  I can also hear Mother and Daddy’s laughter when watching them on Saturday nights.  It makes me smile.

My picture of the town of Osmotherley. I was not energetic enough to walk up another hill to take the photo below.
A better photo of Osmotherley from the Queen Catherine Hotel and Pub website.

While our b&b is lovely, modern and well decorated, we are less comfortable here.  Our hosts are not as warm and friendly as the first 2 nights.  We feel like little prisoners in our beautiful room.  We skipped dinner because it is another mile walk and it started raining, hard.  While our host offered to drive us, it felt like a half hearted offer so peanut butter crackers in the room. I sound like a wussy about walking in the rain but once clean from the hike it is hard to think about pulling on rain jackets and pants or risk getting wet (not to mention another mile tacked on to the day when we have 11 hard miles to go the next day).  

Tomorrow is our hardest day of the trip.  Luckily a cool front is moving in and we are expecting only a few possible rain showers.

Hope you don’t mind my long emails, you are my travel journal this trip.


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The Cleveland Way, Day 1, Helmsley to Sutton Bank

Actual Hike: Helmsley to Boltby
Expected Mileage: 10
Actual Mileage From B&B to B&B: 14.5
Times We Got Separated From the Trail: 1 (for 4 miles)
When We Discovered Detailed Trail Description in our Hiking Materials:  End of Day

Accommodations:  Willow Tree B&B
Rating: Fabulous!!
Date: Monday, May 7, 2018

Dear Leslie,

We made it through our 1st day of hiking, 14.5 miles, about 4 miles longer than advertised.  We are more than a little exhausted.  It has been unseasonably warm here, the temperature rose to mid 70’s with a very clear, blue sky. We hiked mostly in the sun with few moments of cover. Although we applied sunscreen and both wore hats, we have splotches of sunburn.  We looked forward to cooler temps on Wednesday, meanwhile, Tuesday is a carbon of today.

Trail about a mile or so out from Helmsley

We started in Helmsley and the trail was easy to follow for the 1st 2.5 miles but somewhere we got off track and ended up walking the road for about 4 miles between Rievaulx Abbey and the village of Cold Kirby where we found the trail again.

Notes: the road forked at just after Rievaulx Abbey. We did not find an acorn marking so we took the left fork. We had been walking on the road for a few minutes when we were passed by a properly dressed horsewoman traveling on her trusty steed. We asked about the trail, she looked puzzled and said she thought there might be a trail somewhere in the woods along the right fork in the road. Hmmmm.

So we walked back, took the right fork and indeed she was correct, there was a trail but it was not ours. Luckily I had read enough to know that the trail went through Cold Kirby so we walked the road for miles till we arrived in Cold Kirby, found an acorn marker and the correct trail. Unfortunately we did not discover the detailed trail information in our Absolute Escapes package until that night. The left fork was the correct choice after all.

Reivaulx Abbey. The ruins looked like something I would really like to explore but they were a mile or so from the main road and would have added 2+ miles to our day. It was still early on the walk but we had begun to realize the demands of walking all day. This would not be the last time we bypassed something we would have loved to explore.

What is advertised as a well marked trail is misleading.  The roads are mostly ” single track” so cars have to pull off to let another by.  We had to step off the road for cars going in both directions.  Did I mention, Brits drive like bats out of hell?

Across from the gate is a pull off where cars can move off the road for on coming traffic. We just jumped in the grass.

The scenery is spectacular.  Lush green fields sectioned off by ancient stone walls. 

The walls are incredible.
Lush fields

Most of the fields have sheep and spring is baby lamb time so we see many baby lambs frolicking in the fields.  The mother sheep and her babies are numbered with the same number so they don’t get separated.  Sheep #29 comes to mind with her 2 babies marked 29.  Almost looks like they have been spray painted.

I didn’t get a good picture of the sheep on this day. We were a little stressed about loosing the trail, my picture taking suffered.

We have walked through several fields of cows, really big cows!  While the sheep bleet and scatter, the cows give you the stink eye and slowly start walking in your direction.  I don’t much like hanging out with the cows.

Today was a bank holiday and Helmsley was crowded last night.  Helmsley rolls up its sidewalk between 3:30 and 6:30 on Sunday evening so it was just by luck we were able to get take away fish and chips at around 6:15.  We ate on a bench in the square. Very greasy! (the fish, not the bench)

The accessible spots along the Way were crowded today, especially past Sutton Bank where the National Park headquarters is situated.  Otherwise not too much foot traffic….  lots of road traffic.

Notes: We stopped for ice cream at the National Park headquarters, which is located in Sutton Bank. We were hot, tired and ready to be at our B&B. Unfortunately we had another 2 miles to walk to Boltby. Most of it was on the Cleveland Way so we hiked a few of the following day’s miles.

We were looking for this clump of trees as a directional marker for our B&B.
The directions from Diana, our evening host said to “look for the clump of trees, take a left at the old barn and walk downhill in the field toward the road. “
John and I kept asking ourselves, “is this really the barn? Down THAT hill?” It’s the only barn we had seen for a while.
Photo taken from the road to Boltby. This is the hill, on the ridgeline is the clump of trees with the barn. Dang that was quite a downhill traverse. We weren’t looking forward to climbing it first thing in the morning to start our day’s hike.

Tonight we are in an amazing B&B overlooking the countryside.  We have a lovely suite with a balcony.  The french doors are thrown wide open and we have a refreshing breeze. 

We have been served lemon cake, homemade lemonade and are waiting to go downstairs for a quiche dinner. 

Notes: our host, Diana was absolutely the best. Instead of driving two old, exhausted travelers to town for dinner then returning to pick us up, she made dinner for us. Not only did she serve us in her family dining room but she pulled out the silver, china and crystal. We had the same dinner as her family (who ate in the kitchen), quiche, a fresh spinach salad and fresh strawberries. It was so good and we were so grateful that all we had to do was drag ourselves back to our room.

Also, we were hiking at the same time as a lady from Ottawa, Canada who was also hiking (solo) with an Absolute Escapes agenda. We spoke to her briefly at the Red Roofs B&B. She was also staying at Willow Tree but Diana told us she had declined her offer of dinner and stayed in her room.

Our host will pack our lunch tomorrow. The B&B is a bit of a farm with geese, chickens and a garden.

Speaking of tomorrow, I hope we only have 10 miles or so to hike ( but I am not counting on it).


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Helmsley-The Beginning of An Adventure

I don’t remember why, but we took a cab from York to Helmsley. John seems to remember the train took too long and neither of us wanted to take a bus. The travel was initially complicated by a traffic problem on the main highway but our friendly cab driver (female, naturally) drove to Helmsley on the backroads, pointing out notable sites, responding to our many questions and providing a history of the area. As it turned out, the traffic issues were in our favor. Somehow these little travel annoyances seem to turn out to be memorable parts of every trip.

It took us about 40 or so minutes of scenic country roads to get to Helmsley, views of the British countryside we would not have had from the main highway. As we arrived in town, we noticed Helmsley was dressed in yellow and blue, colors of the bicycle Tour de Yorkshire. Upon closer look, brightly painted bicycles hung from buildings, ribbons were tied to fences and signs announcing the Tour were strung all over town. Our cabbie explained that the Tour had been through Helmsley just the day before. I sighed with relief as I knew that with John’s love of bicycling, a future date could have been a temporary trip interrupter.

We unloaded our gear at Red Roofs B&B where we had reservations for the night. I know what you are thinking but the name Red Roofs comes from the red tiled roofs covering many of the buildings in Helmsley. Our B&B was situated in a proper British neighborhood with similar looking two story homes, small, neat lawns and, of course, red tiled roofs. Our hosts, Marco and Jane graciously accepted our luggage but sent us into town to explore till our room was ready.

An hour or so later we were settled in a comfortable second floor room, with a spacious en suite bathroom. Large windows overlooking a pretty garden filled one wall, sunlight warmed the room. A tea kettle and several cups had been set out for our enjoyment. Just the invitation we needed to rest our feet for a few moments. We don’t drink much tea at home and after several days of tea drinking I wondered why, such a civilized way to relax (note: I quit drinking tea again as soon as we returned home).

The bathroom (through the open door) was an addition to the room.
The room had a sitting area by the windows where one could curl up to read a book and enjoy a cup of tea or just think about the upcoming walk.

Marco gave us (John) instructions for finding the trailhead and we headed back to town in search of the beginning of our adventure. Along the way we stopped at the beautiful Church of All Saints, an Anglican parish church and walked the yard and cemetery. Just beyond the church, a street or so away, we spotted just what we were looking for, a stone marker with the symbol of the Cleveland Way path, the acorn.

And that’s it, the beginning. One just walks beyond the stone marker and the adventure begins.
The abbey that once served Helmsley Castle is Rievaulx, noted on the sign above. The ruins are an attraction for walkers on the Cleveland Way and are also accessible by car. Filey is the termination of the path.

Towering over the village of Helmsley and located near the entrance to the Cleveland Way are the ruins of Helmsley Castle. The castle has a lengthy history but the initial structure of wood was built around 1120 AD. Around 1186 AD, the process of converting it from wood to stone began. Somewhere along the line of life, death and inheritance, it became the property of Robert de Roos, Lord of Helmsley, who made significant improvements in the 1200’s. The market town of Helmsley grew up around the massive castle to serve the needs of the castle inhabitants.

The castle continued to be passed down among de Roos and was finally sold to the Duncombes, who did not really inhabit it. After decades of disrepair and decay, the castle, though still privately owned, is now cared for by the English Heritage.

The Helmsley Chapel wall from the main street in Helmsley
Part of the castle is still standing and enclosd
A few of rooms in the castle still stood and have been protected
Windows overlooking the gardens are magnificent
My imagination runs wild when I look at the skeleton of old buildings. Look at the fireplaces and windows filled with afternoon light. Day to day life happened here, children were raised, families loved and family members died.
The only standing wall of a chapel built on the castle property.
The red roofs of the village of Helmsley. The towers of the Church of All Saints are visible.
We had lunch at a lovely little café named the Cocoa Tree, fresh salad, coleslaw, a handful of chips and quiche.
We initially planned to dine outside but it was a little chilly so we moved in.

We spent most of the rest of the day in town poking through shops and watching other tourists.

The streets of Helmsley

Finally it was time to find something for dinner. We were in Helmsley on a Sunday and discovered many restaurants were closed and those that were open had a long waits. We ended up sitting on a bench in town eating fish and chips from a take away store. Most B&B’s have signs that say take away food, especially (greasy) fish and chips are not allowed in the room.

Fish and Chips Takeaway

After dinner we headed back to our room to prepare for our walk and get a good night’s rest. I was looking forward to what was to come, 10 days on the trail in a new B&B each night. So many exciting things to come…..

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