Whitby kippers, wet cliffs, a mad bull, hi-viz kids and happy holiday memories. The Ends of the Earth and an ending for me too.
I catch an early bus to Whitby and head up behind the Market Hall to ‘Monks Haven Tea Shoppe’ to order Whitby kippers with scrambled eggs for my breakfast. Fueled up, I skip up the famous 199 steps past the tall Caedmon’s Cross, St Mary’s Church and Abbey. Fortunately, Bram Stoker’s Black Dog is nowhere to be seen.
It starts to rain gently. The path takes me straight through a holiday caravan park which feels like straying into another world, but it soon turns onto open fields and the cliff path again.
Above me, a small noisy plane is performing acrobatics, below me is the sea-stack of Black Nab and before me are rolling green headlands. The light rain has made the path slippery and muddy in places; I have been so lucky with the dry weather so far.
Through a kissing gate I come upon the Hawsker Mad Bull. Not a raging beast but a huge foghorn that once blasted out a low note for shipping but is now, sadly, decommissioned and silent with Hornblower House below it converted into an expensive holiday let. I start to sketch but a shower beats me to it and I end up with a few runny splodges of ink in my sketchbook! (This sketch is the original heavily touched up).
Past the lighthouse, also a holiday let, and the path rises up over a headland. Some steep slippery steps lead down into a green valley with a bridge across a stream and the pattern is repeated. Eventually, Robin Hood’s Bay comes into view with it’s old coast guard station: a basic shed on stilts, and a ‘rocket post’ in Rocket Post Field. The posts were used to anchor a Breeches Buoy for rescues and this replica is on the site of an older practise post.
We had happy holidays in Robin Hood’s Bay around 25 years ago and before descending the steps down into the old village, I look for the house we stayed in. I think I find it: enlarged and re-roofed but still a timber-clad building at the end of a track: ‘Finisterre’.
‘Ends of the Earth’ and an ending for me too. Today is the last stage of my hike and I join Coast to Coast hikers who also end their journeys here. The Cleveland Way continues past Robin Hood’s Bay to Scarborough and then to Filey where it joins the Yorkshire Wolds Way which goes another 79 miles south to Kingston-upon-Hull, but I only have one clear day remaining. From here to Scarborough is a long 15 mile hike and after a bus journey with connections that don’t match either way, it would be a very long day back to Staithes. It doesn’t bother me: I have come further than I expected and overall I will have hiked nearly 130 miles. Perhaps the remaining sections are an excuse to come back some day?
I go down into Robin Hood’s Bay and there are memories at every turn of the narrow, cobbled car-free streets and terraces. The coast here has magnificent geology with impressive fossils and several parties of chattering Hi-Viz-vested schoolchildren are being led up from the shore by their watchful teachers.
I sit by the slipway and sketch the Bay Hotel before climbing back up the main steep street to catch a bus back to Staithes. In the evening, after another good meal in the Cod & Lobster, I watch a wonderful sunset over the headland and out to sea. It’s a perfect end to the day. My adventure is not quite over though…
7 miles (11.26km) in about 3.5 hours