Route details, maps, pubs, features, local history and folklore for a wide variety of walks focusing primarily on Norfolk and Suffolk

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Cleveland Way - Scarborough to Filey

View back to Cunstone Nab

A fairly easy wander along the coastal section of the Cleveland Way between Scarborough to Filey

When it comes to the Cleveland Way this is one of the easier sections but there is no lack of amazing views. The walk hugs the clifftops for the most part with little in the way of challenging climbs although certainly never flat. The Cleveland Way ends at Filey Brigg which has various legends as to how it was formed. From here it is a simple walk down into Filey.

Cleveland Way - Scarborough to Filey - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
Scarborough View in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
Filey View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
10 miles
Walk difficulty
Cliff top paths
Beware - some of the paths are very close to the cliff edge


The following maps and services can assist in navigating this route. The links include published hard copy as well as online plots and downloadable GPX route data for importing into navigational software and apps.

Ordnance Survey Explorer Map
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Online Ordnance Survey Route
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Online OpenStreetMap Route
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Online Google Route
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ViewRanger App Route
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GPX data for route (download)


Middlewood Farm, Fylingthorpe Camp site View in OS Map | View in Google Map
A family run touring site within a short walk to Fylingthorpe village and Robin Hoods Bay


Details of public transport that is required for the walk

Arriva Buses - Bus Service
Service Details
X93 - Arriva bus service lining Scarborough, Whitby and Middlesborough
East Yorkshire Motor Services - Bus Service
Service Details
120 - East Yorkshire Motor Services bus service 120 from Scarborough to Bridlington via Filey

Walk Data

Date of Walk
Walk Time
08:30 to 14:30
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Bright sunny warm day

Walk Notes

I am never a big fan of visiting large towns or centres of population. However, arriving at Scarborough at 08:30 on an early Autumn Monday morning when the crowds were not around and the sun is shining is something of a pleasure. No masses on the beach or the proms and a chance to admire the architectural delights that make up the sea front without having to dodge the hoards.

The wander along the prom ends at the bottom of the cliff where the Holbeck Hotel once stood. This is the famous building that collapsed following cliff erosion in 1993, the dramatic scenes which were posted across the media. The BBC Website contains some photos of the collapse. All that is left today is a steep landscaped slope where the coast path ascends to continue along the cliff tops.

The path continues along the cliff-tops to Osgodby where it heads inland, seemingly blocked by residential properties. Whether this is because of a cliff fall is unknown. In fact google maps displays the path leading onwards along the undercliff which is interesting as the official route follows the path to the main road, returning to the undercliff towards the edge of the village. This is one of the few places where any climbs or descents occur as the route tracks through the undercliff vegetation, returning back to the cliff top just before the access road to Cayton Sands. The distinctive building below on the beach is a pumping station. Pumping what, who knows?

The cliffs now increase to the summit at Lebberston Cliff which juts out at Red Cliff Point. Here, a pinnacle of rock sticks out of reach from the cliff edge. It can be seen silhouetted in the morning sun, providing a sense of wonder at what it really is. A clearer view can be had on the southern side of the point which is worth taking a few minutes out to admire. The path is pretty close to the edge at this point, and I must admit that suffering from vertigo it does give a little nervousness as one edges around the point. Even so, one just plods onwards, without urgency and placing ones steps firmly with each pace. The view once around this is worth it.

The path continues in front of a holiday caravan park along Gristhorpe Cliff where there are a few coast facing seats which provide the opportunity for a rest and an occasion to just sit and admire the views out to sea. I guess if it was raining with a howling gale one could sit here and contemplate why one is doing this walk in such weather whilst getting a wet bottom. And if the cliffs were in the depths of sea mist, with just the distant sound of waves as the only clue to this being the coast, one could just wonder where one was.

The cliffs continue in a long line down to Filey Brigg, with occasional sneaky peaks of the coloured strata that makes the cliff face. This section of the walk is accompanied by other walkers given the clues to the fact that there is a centre of population in proximity. People stroll between the coastal holiday site and Filey town. Others use inland footpaths to make circular dog walking routes. At the end of the cliffs is Filey Brigg, a spit of rock jutting out into Filey Bay. There is a path that continues out the tail of this spit but the head is the official end of the Cleveland Way, marked with a rock sculpture that has place names from along its route carved into its structure. A way marker reminds the walker that Helmsley, the start of the National Trail located in the wilds of the Yorkshire Moors, lies 109 miles away. It seems an odd place to end a National Trail, on a wild cliff top above Filey. One would have thought Filey was a more appropriate end place. Despite this, the walk down to the seaside town is found by following the Yorkshire Wolds Way.

Filey Brigg
Filey Brigg


The Cleveland Way is clearly marked with the usual acorn markers of a national trail

Leave the bus station at Scarborough and head down to the sea front. This is easily down by walking around the front of the adjacent railway station then crossing the road and turning left onto Somerset Terrace which leads through to the cliffside landscaped gardens down to the promenade.

Head south along the prom and keep going to its furthest extent, beyond the buildings and beyond the Star Disk feature. At the farthest end a track leads up the cliff where the former Holbeck Hotel once stood, this is a fairly steep gradient but certainly not a climb. At the top the path veers off along the cliff top, passing through some scrub, then around the edge of a golf course. It continues along the cliff top until it meets the rear to a road of houses. A path leads up the side of these and out onto the road. Turn left and continue along the road, through the village of Osgodby. The road passes some woodland on the left and part way along this is a path into the woodland marked with a trail waymarker. This leads down the cliffside, through the woodland and then along the lower levels. Eventually it returns up the cliff with a climb out onto grassy clifftop.

Continue along the clifftop paths, going directly across access roads to the beach. The path now follows the cliff top all the way down to Filey Brigg where the end of the Cleveland Way is marked by a sculpture. Tis is the meeting point of the Yorkshire Wolds Way which continues along the coastline down into Filey. It follows the clifftop, passing across a gulley with a steep descent and climb. Further clifftop waling results in a final descent down to a road that leads out onto the promenade. Keep along this until it meets some buildings where there is access up to the road behind and onto Cargate Hill, that leads up into the town. Continue straight ahead through the town and the bus station is on the left by the first roundabout.

View back to Scarborough
View back to Scarborough


Three Tuns, Filey View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Murray Street, Filey

A busy town-centre hotel on the main street to the beach. Well frequented with sports TV although there are places to get away from such distractions. Home-cooked food is served lunchtimes and evenings. Accommodation available. Live entertainment at weekends. Four cask ales are generally available.


A town centre pub that attracts a lot of passing custom. Even so the bar staff were friendly and obliging despite the busy lunchtime. The Copper Dragon Golden Pippin seemed an interesting name for a brew. The blonde citrus ale was certainly satisfying, so much so a second pint was ordered. It seems that the brewery of this great beer has been taken over since visiting.

Cayton Sands pumping station
Cayton Sands pumping station


Filey BriggView in OS Map | View in Google Map

The narrow peninsula that juts out into Filey Bay, just north of the town, is known as Filey Brigg, or its older name of Bridge. The landward side, where the cliffs are 20 metres in height, is the location of an old Roman signal station and is referred to as Carr Naze. From here the sandstone and limestone cliffs taper down into the sea and this is known as The Brigg and is a presently a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

For this feature we are interested in the local folklore that surrounds the Brigg. There are two legends that pertain to the formation of this feature. The first states that it was formed by the Devil himself and is recorded in an 1867 publication by the Rev George Shaw titled Our Filey Fishermen where it states that the landform was once known as The Devil's Brigg, going on to explain:

when [the devil] was engaged in the building of [the Brigg], his hammer fell into the sea, and that on feeling for it, by mistake, took hold of a haddock, and that his finger marks appear on each side of that kind of fish to the present time.

This rendition can be dated back to an 1828 book by John Cole entitled The history and antiquities of Filey where the tale is reported to have been contributed by a Mr T.C. of Bridlington to another book known as The Table Book. Indeed, locating this publication from 1827, on page 733, it clearly states

you... may have seen the haddock at different times, and observed the black marks on Its sides. But do you know, sir, how the haddock came by these said marks ? The legendary tale of Filey says, that the devil in one of his mischievous pranks determined to build Filey bridge for the destruction of ships and sailors, and the annoyance of fishermen, but that in the progress of his work he accidentally let fall his hammer into the sea, and being in haste to snatch it back caught a haddock, and thereby made the imprint, which the whole species retains to this day.

In some other accounts the Devil is said to shreik 'Ah Dick' when he captures the fish, which is said how the haddock came by its name. However, thus far I can only find modern accounts of this part of the tale.

The second piece of folklore explains the formation of the Brigg being created by the remains of a Dragon. This tale abounds on websites and is based around a henpecked man called Billy Baiter whose wife, Hepzibah, was a drunkard. The story is very much embroidered by most accounts and goes on to tell the tale of Billy going out for some firewood. On his return journey he was drawn by the aroma of freshly baked Yorkshire Parkin, to the house of a wise woman by the name of Mrs Greenaway. Parkin is a kind of Yorkshire gingerbread traditionally made with oatmeal and black treacle, which produces a sticky moist cake. Lured by the delicacy, he traded his firewood for the gingerbread and continued home.

With it being a misty night, his footsteps were never sure and he stumbled over the edge of a dragons lair with the parkin landing in the dragons mouth. Initially it glued up the Dragons mouth but with much mastication, it was eventually digested. Enamoured by the sticky taste, the Dragon demanded Billy to bring some more. Who could argue with a fire breathing dragon, and Billy ran home to relate his tale to his wife. To his good fortune, his wife was somewhat annoyed at Mrs Greenaways parkin being so appreciated by both Billy and the dragon and set about making some more to prove that hers was far better in taste and stickiness. Once baked, she headed out of the house with it but tripped and fell, falling all the way down to the dragons lair and straight into its mouth. This not only satisfied the dragon but also got rid of his tortuous wife whom the Dragon digested in one gulp. However the dragons mouth then became so glued up with parkin that he went down to the coast to swill his mouth with seawater. Unfortunately he but fell down the cliff, causing such a commotion that the villagers all turned out to see what was happening. Seeing the dragon was barely able to breath due to his glued up mouth they whacked him on the head and he disappeared into the waves, soon to drown.

No doubt these days there would have been an uproar by the various nature societies about cruelty to dragons with the offenders served up with notices of court appearances. Protest groups would protest and social media would be alive with online activists and warriors decrying the violent acts of the villagers. But back in those far away days there was no Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Dragons and it was generally assumed that if one encountered a dragon then it should be slayed. Consequently, after the beast sank into the waves, its flesh decayed with its bones slowly turned to the stone which now makes up Filey Brigg. No-one protested. No one complained. And the story was just passed down the generations of how the villagers had defeated a local Dragon.

The story naturally varies with each telling but seems to be rooted in an account from 1905-1907 which is referenced by a 1967 article by R L Tongue titled Billy Biter and the Parkin. A Yorkshire Folk-Tale Recovered from a Somerset Stable. This attests that the original story is a Somerset tale that was borrowed by Filey. However the original story cannot be located and the reason and wherefores of how it ended up in Yorkshire are unknown.

A common variation of the story connects the name of Billy Biter to that of a local man named Ralph Parkin. In this account, his wife voluntarily feeds the dragon parkin with the same outcome. Some accounts allege that Ralph Parkin was a Filey resident who married Mary Brumfitt on 10 August 1794 at St Oswald’s Church, Filey yet none of this information has a source cited and thus far it has not been found in any records.

A more recent story concerning the Brigg was reported in the Daily Telegraph on 1st March 1934. Local Coastguard Wilkinson Herbert was walking on the beach when he reported

Suddenly I heard a growling like a dozen dogs ahead, walking nearer I switched on my torch and was confronted by a huge neck, six yards in front of me, rearing up 8ft. high! The head was a startling sight-huge eyes like saucers, glaring at me, the creature’s mouth was a foot wide and neck would be a yard around. The monster appeared as startled as I was. Shining my torch along the ground I saw a body about 30ft. long. I thought this was no place for me and from a distance I threw stones at the creature. It moved away growling fiercely and I saw the huge black body had two humps on it and four short legs with huge flappers on them. I could not see any tail. It moved quickly, rolling from side to side, and went into the sea. From the cliff top I looked down and saw two eyes like torch lights shining out to sea 300 yards away. It was a most gruesome and thrilling experience. I have seen big animals abroad, but nothing like this.

This appears to be more akin to an instance of an encounter with a Yorkshire Barguest rather than a dragon. A Barguest is the northern English hell hound that has similarities with the East Anglian Shuck.

Filey Brigg
Filey Brigg


Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on an image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: 2018-12-16

2017-09-27 : Initial publication
2018-12-16 : General website updates


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