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…..

Posted in Cleveland Way, England, Hiking, Outside, Travel, Uncategorized, Walking | 2 Comments

Walking the Cleveland Way-The What, Why and How

Since we are not traveling at the moment, I thought I would dig into the archives and write about a walking trip that we took in May 2018. Looking back, I was not blogging in 2018 so this trip went undocumented except for the daily travel posts to my sister, Leslie. The posts started out as a quick email on our first evening in York to let her know we were ok and turned into a journal of our travels.

Regardless of my state of mind (or feet as you will read), I sat down every night to tell Leslie about our day. I learned, after a day or two, that she was reading the posts to her husband and they looked forward to each update. About midway through the trip, John realized what I was doing and we included his mother on the email list. I found I enjoyed telling the story to family interested in reading. Looking back, I am glad I did.

Before I get into the story, I want to provide a little explanation about the what, why and how of the Cleveland Way. The following posts will be my daily correspondence with some additional explanation where needed.

What is the Cleveland Way

The Cleveland Way is a national footpath in northern England, which runs for 109 miles. It begins in Helmsley and runs around North York Moors National Park until it reaches the coast at Saltburn-by-the-Sea, then the path heads south-east along the North Sea. The termination point is the old, slightly rundown sea town of Filey.

The path is one of the oldest and most popular in England. It was opened in 1969 shortly after the Pennine Way. The route has two distinct sections, 56.5 miles in the moors and 52 miles along the sea. A number of small British towns or villages are located along the path so a walker can lodge in a B&B each night. Another 48 miles can be added on at Filey to return the walker to Helmsley. We did not do this the Filey to Helmsley section.

Why the Cleveland Way

Europe has a number of interesting and historical walking paths. By the time I approached John about a walking vacation I had narrowed the options down to the above four trails and the Cleveland Way. Wainwright’s Coast to Coast across England was ruled out because of the length, 200 miles. We were both working and this was not a practical length for us. The Cotswold Way at 100 miles was ruled out because much of it is on paved roads and cobblestones.

As you can see from two books, we seriously considered the West Highland Way but as my ever practical husband said “you really don’t want to walk 17 miles in one day, do you? I know I don’t.” And Tour of Mont Blanc, well, I am still working on him to do that one. So the Cleveland Way it was.

How We Did the Cleveland Way

Early on we agreed to stay in B&B’s every night and to transport our luggage. While we are backpackers, we did not feel compelled to carry our belongings on our back everyday. Our goal for this trip was a relaxing (?) hike from one village to the next. I will confess that we totally overpacked our transport suitcases and learned a BIG packing lesson dragging those suitcases up and down steps everyday. And this was a lesson I thought we had already learned 😦 .

The next thing I did was research companies to book our accommodations, provide luggage transport and other information necessary along the way. Much of this information is available on-line but researching and vetting 11 B&B’s in 11 different villages was not something my working self wanted to do. So I vetted travel companies who specialized in UK walks (and other places) and selected Absolute Escapes , not the cheapest but a decision I never regretted.

So now it was time to travel…

We left Knoxville at 2:26 pm on Friday, May 4th and arrived at London Heathrow on Saturday, May 5th at 6:45 am. Ouch! Our final destination for the day was York so we grabbed a train at the King Crossing station and dozed off and on for the 2.5 hour ride.

On a previous visit to York in 2000, John and I stayed at a cute little B&B about 15 minutes walk from town but this trip I was glad we were booked at the Hilton York in town. After settling in (luckily a room was ready at our early arrival hour) we headed out to see a few of the sights we remembered from our previous trip. The York Minister Cathedral brought back lovely memories as did high tea at Bettys Café Tea Room.

High tea at Betty’s Café Tea Room. Very commercial but delightful and a fond memory!
The current scones were divine!

But this journal really isn’t about York so I will spare most of the photos. We were exhausted by bedtime and I paused to write a quick note to my sister:

Hey Leslie, we are in York.  It’s about 9:45 pm here and we are exhausted!  In bed shortly and hopefully better in the am!  Tomorrow we are on to Helmsley.

Love you-Beverly

In the morning I received this post from her , which I found quite interesting. Note these are her in-law’s from Italy:

It’s Sunday at 6:40.  I hope you all are are enjoying your trip so far.  We went to Morristown yesterday to meet some of Mike’s newly discovered family.  Larry is the son of Mike’s grandfather’s youngest brother. The grandfather and his 4 sibs were placed in an orphanage and they all went in different directions.  Larry didn’t know he had any cousins.  It would be like finding out Daddy’s had a half brother or sister.

Keep me posted on your trip when you can.

Love Leslie

We woke rested and ready to go and so it was on to Helmsley to begin our adventure.

Posted in Cleveland Way, England, Hiking, Travel, Uncategorized, Walking | 1 Comment