A Smackdown Storm

A freight train blew through our neighborhood early this morning in the form of a hard hitting, smackdown storm. John and I were jarred awake as intense light flashed through the windows followed by a deafening clap of thunder. Then a powerful wind slapped against the house and the walls seemed to shake.

John jumped out of bed and began fumbling for a flashlight. Lights in the living room, dining room and bedroom, all attached to the smart lightening system seemed to simultaneously light up, pause for a moment then fade into darkness. The house became eerily quiet. Neither of us could grapple with what was happening.

I struggled to shake myself fully awake; I could hear intense rain and hail pelting the windows. Meanwhile, John and his headlamp were roaming the house. A yell of “water in the hall” sent me scrambling to find towels to mop up the seepage as he rushed to pull back the hallway runner. Try as we have, we have not been able to completely seal the front door. When a hard rain hits at just the right angle, water finds it’s way into the hall. Today it was coming in fast!

s!The beauty of a gas stove and battery powered candles when the power blows!
Hot water poured through the coffee maker! Yay for early morning coffee.
Reading Jill Biden’s book, “Where Light Enters” as we await the morning light.

Then, just as quickly as it came, the storm blew out. Everything was quiet again. Battery powered candles, coffee on the gas range, a good book and headlamps got us through the darkness. Just after first light, we walked down the street to the scene where the power outage occurred. The culprit, an old pine that had been hit by lightening. As it cracked and splintered, then splayed across the road, it took the power for several streets with it.

Old pine broke high on the trunk
Pine clutter everywhere with wires mixed amongst the branches.

Some 6 plus hours later, we are still waiting for power. A utility truck was spotted headed in that direction but that has been several hours ago. While we wait, the pup and I are sitting on the veranda as John contacts family and trys to sort through work issues related to a separate power outage there. The sun is out and has almost dried out the rain, birds are singing, most of the spring blooms are still intact and a stiff wind keeps the wind chimes ringing. What started out rough has become a lively day in the neighborhood.

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The Cleveland Way, Day 10, Scarborough to Filey

Planned mileage: 12.0
Actual mileage: 10.5

Accomodations: Abbots Leigh
Rating: Good

Dear Leslie and Mike,

Another mini update tonight.  WE ARE DONE! We have mixed emotions about being done, we have immensely enjoyed the scenery and each other’s company.  Being out everyday with nothing to do but hike is amazing.  The stillness and solitude, much needed.  John asked about every day, “is this what retirement is like?” 

On the other hand, I have struggled greatly with my feet and I need to find some answers.  Also 13 hotels with 13 very different beds and pillows is a lot of packing, unpacking and adjustment. We are missing washcloths, bedding, the ability to control the temperature in our room and a decent sized bathroom with water contols we understand.  Yet we have asked ourselves several times, “would we do another hike?”  The answer is yes. 

We did not take a cab to the trailhead, we walked from our B&B, on the left, to the boardwalk. My feet were ok on this day.
The seaside, tourist village of Scarborough. Residential is on the backside of the cliff.
There’s our sign and we know which direction to go!
Walking along the boardwalk away from Scarborough
One last look

Today was not a difficult day but our luck ran out on the weather.  We hiked 10.5 miles B&B to B&B and my feet did not hurt much, yay! Aside from 3 ravine drops and maybe 300 steps, we hiked on the cliff edge overlooking the ocean.  We hiked in a very light rain that was aggravating enough to wear rain jackets but didn’t soak through.  That was because a cold, fierce wind was blowing up and over the cliffs that dissipated the rain on contact.  The wind was blowing inland and the force of the gusts caused issues with our footing and stability.  John estimated 40 mph with higher gusts.  We required light wool gloves for the first time today.  

Windy cliffs. The surf was quite rough on this day and we could hear the waves slam against the rocky, cliff walls.
At times, the path wandered away from the sea and into forests and neighborhoods.
Through a lovely neighborhood
But it always returned back to the sea.
Through a gate and back to the cliff’s edge.
Steps up from a ravine
Through the fog, Filey appeared

We were looking forward to getting into Filey but have been a bit disappointed.  It is the most run down of all the seaside towns we have visited, although our B&B is nice.  I believe it is still winter season (sure does feel like it) and everything closes very early. 

Trail end
We had hiked 109 miles, actually 111.5 even through we missed the full hike to Scarborough
Coming into Filey, the pansies brightened an otherwise gray day.
Most of Filey looked like this, not the pretty square above.
Boots off for the last time

By the time we got out for dinner at 6:00 pm, all of the resturants were closed.  We finally found a little cafe and take away fish and chips place.  They closed the cafe just as we walked in so we left ( B&B’s do not allow take away in the room).  Lucky us, one of the waitresses ran outside and got us.  They served us while they were cleaning up the cafe….lovely people! The fish and chips wasn’t too bad either!

So that’s it for now.  Tomorrow we make our way from Filey to Scarborough to Leeds by train.  We overnight in Leeds and catch the 11:05 flight out.  I will try to be in touch tomorrow.


So this is the end of my journals for the Cleveland Way. Thank you for reading. The trip was amazing and a really great experience as a couple. While the issues I had with my feet were sometimes overwhelming, completing this hike was important to me. We learned somethings along the way and hope to put that knowledge to use in a similar journey, hopefully as early as 2021.

Posted in Cleveland Way, England, Hiking, Travel, Uncategorized, Walking | 3 Comments

The Cleveland Way, Day 9, Robin Hood's Bay to Scarborough

Actual Hike: We took the bus to Scarborough and walked back toward Robin Hood’s Bay
Expected Mileage: 14.0
Actual Mileage: 10.0
Worst Part of the Day: Wishing we had hiked instead of taken the bus
Best Part of the Day: Taking the bus and letting my feet rest (I know, I can’t have it both ways)
Bonus: AZ Turkish Restaurant (no fish and chips)

Accommodations: The Almar
Rating: Nice accommodations, lovely host and hostess
Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Hey Leslie and Mike!

A mini update…we are in Scarborough tonight in a lively guest house with an airplane sized bathroom, i.e. I put my shampoo and conditioner on the sink and just reach out from the shower to get it (no room for it in the shower).

We had our first really lovely meal at a small, neighborhood Turkish restaurant, AZ. It took about 1 and 1/2 hours so it is almost bedtime. The food was amazing.

We did take the bus from Robin Hood’s Bay this morning, about 30 minutes (with stops) on a double decker bus.  We arrived at the Scarborough train station about 9:30 where we had some time before showing up to our B&B.

From the second level on a double decker bus as we waved good-bye to Robin Hood’s Bay.
This was my great disappointment for this trip, taking the bus. I did not want to do it but my feet would not take me where I needed to go on this morning so there really was no other choice.

 Our plan was to do some hiking on the Cleveland Way but my feet hurt so much I was almost in tears.  Walking the concrete promenade along the waterfront to the trail had us sitting down every few benches.  Neither of us had much hope for hiking.

The waterfront promenade.

Strangely enough after 2 Advil, a few minutes on the trail and using my hiking poles, the pain mostly subsided.  We did a 7 mi out and back hike plus around Scarborough for 10 miles for the day. 

Looking back toward Scarborough. The tower on the cliff is part of Scarborough Castle
Seagulls amongst the rocky shore.
Walking the Cleveland Way back toward Robin Hood’s Bay.
A nice bench for lunch.
Rape seed flowers. Rape seeds are used to make canola oil.
A welcoming makeshift bench to sit and watch the sea.
These beautiful seaside days are coming to an end.

Notes: I want to add here that John and I first visited Scarborough in 2000 on our first overseas trip together during our first year of dating. I had tagged along to sightsee while John was attending a conference at the University of York. We had an amazing trip! We had been dating about 6 months and everything was so new and exciting. We saw a billboard for Scarborough Fair and impulsively decided then and there that we would take a train to Scarborough for the day.

We walked from the train station to the beach where a lively beach scene was in progress. Fair rides were running, food trucks were everywhere and visitors were walking the promenade. We had so much fun strolling, peeking in gift shops and sticking our toes in the North Sea for the first time ever. The day was over too quickly and we climbed up the steep hill back to the train station vowing to return and spend more time.

So here we were, 18 years later. We had been looking forward to this overnight stay but we were experiencing a whole different type of trip. Scarborough was much bigger than we thought and a bit more grimy than we remembered and we had just walked 91.0 miles to get here. We don’t hold the same fondness for Scarborough as we did in 2000 but we look back at Boltby, Staithes and Robin Hood’s Bay with those happy thoughts.

I think I am ok for hiking tomorrow, it is an easy 10-11 mile day and we may take a cab to the trailhead to avoid the concrete.  Can’t believe it is our last day on the trail. It has been a special trip!

That’s it for tonight, hope to update you tomorrow.


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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!


Posted in Cleveland Way, England, Hiking, Travel, Uncategorized, Walking | 4 Comments

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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