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

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Cleveland Way - Staithes to Whitby


A 12 mile walk following the Cleveland Way between Staithes and Whitby

A fabulous walk along the Yorkshire coast. Amazing views and not too challenging. Runswick Bay is just under half way where a broad sandy beach presents a different view ending with a climb up the rocky crevasse known as Hob Hole. The walk ends at Whitby where there is plenty to explore.

Cleveland Way - Staithes to Whitby - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
Staithes View in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
Whitby View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
12.0 miles
Walk difficulty
Cliff top paths
Hob Hole leading up from Runswick Bay is slippery. It is thought that after heavy rain this may well be impassable


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
Arriva Buses - Bus Service
Service Details
X4 - Coastal Service linking Whitby, Staithes, Saltburn, Redcar and Middlesborough

Walk Data

Date of Walk
Walk Time
09:30 to 15:30
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Bright sunny warm day

Walk Notes

The Cleveland Way path climbs up out of Staithes and then heads across the fields to the cliff above Brackenberry Wyke. This is the old route. With the inauguration of the England Coast Path a new path has opened up that faithfully follows the cliff top providing some spectacular views over Staithes. When researching the various stages of the England Coast path it does seem somewhat of a formality when it comes to a coast path such as this that already benefits from a National Trail. Despite this, the process has enabled better alignment of such paths to the actual coastline. One has to applaud such changes.

Once over the first cliffs one is soon is greeted by the remains of the harbour of Port Mulgrave at the base of the Rosedale cliffs. Little remains here these days other than the subtle hint of past industry. The harbour was built in the 1850's by Sir Charles Palmer in order to transport the ironstone from his cliff mines to the blast furnaces on Tyneside. The location was named Port Mulgrave in honour of renowned local landowner, the Earl of Mulgrave. When these mines were exhausted of ore a further mine was established inland at Grinkle Park and this ore was transported by a narrow gauge railway, through two tunnels, to the harbour, ending on a wooden gantry that stood on the harbour pier. By 1916, the Grinkle mine was connected to Whitby and Middlesbrough railway which was the death knell for Port Mulgrave. The harbour fell into ruin, its machinery sold for scrap, the wooden railway gantry was destroyed by fire and finally the harbour pier was blown up to prevent enemy invasion during WWII.

Another stroll across the cliff-tops soon reveals the broad sandy beach known as Runswick Bay. These days, this bay is frequented by a myriad of holiday makers, even on an out-of-season weekday such as this. During centuries past the village was no more than a fishing hamlet until the entire village slipped down into the sea in a single night in 1682. It is said that the village had a strange superstition of believing it to be terribly unlucky to save a drowning man and any unfortunate individual who came a cropper in the sea would be abandoned for fear that they would bring ill fortune on the village. Today there is a lifeguard watching over the bathers of Runswick Bay. I would guess such superstitions are no longer supported as I would very much doubt the lifeguard would relinquish his duty in time of need for fear of a rescue attempt bringing a bit of bad luck on the locality.

The Cliffemount Hotel sits above the bay and is a congenial place to sit in their garden with a pot of tea and watch the world go by and admire the scenery. All rather very English one has to admit. But well worth the time taken out before descending down to the golden sands of the bay below.

The trail passes across the beach to the far end. One needs to head to a crag in the cliffs from where a stream exudes across the sand to the sea. This is Hob Hole down which Claymoor Beck trickles. There are no signposts or waymarkers but it is soon obvious that this is the path out of the bay. There are stepped stones and an acorn symbol on the upright of the handrail that leads up the crag. One then needs to step across the stream before following the steep path up out of the crag. The stone surfaces, sloshed by the stream waters, are slippery but the rickety handrail gives enough support. A woman led ahead of our step, attempting to climb up bear foot after her dog. She soon gave up and let the dog find its own way back down. In reality, with good footwear and care there should be no issue in getting up this crag but ones imagination does fire on what this may look like after a heavy rain. Probably impassable, although there is nothing to warn users about attempting the climb in such conditions. Maybe it is fine in all weathers. Even if the weather does not hinder there is the threat of the Hobhole Hob, a legendary spirit which is supposed to haunt this crag. And if the hob does not detract you or the weather threaten then don't forget that if you get into trouble during a washout then it would be bad luck for any one to attempt to perform a rescue - you are on your own now!

One above the crag, there is more easy walking across the Kettleness cliff-tops following the coastline as it curves around the Ness. The path soon comes to a steep wooded descent into Overdale, emerging onto the old trackbed of the former Saltburn and Whitby Railway. At the bottom, to the right there is a tunnel entrance and to the left a broad track that descends in gentle curves down to the village of Sandsend. This is very easy walking with views across the coast to Whitby.

I am not sure who says, but I have heard tell that some say that the name of Sandsend is derived from where the sands of the Whitby Bay end and the cliffs take over. Sandsend is a somewhat quieter resort to the bustle of Whitby. The resort does have a personal association in the fact that my brother had spent a youth holiday here during the 1970s. The family bid him farewell at Peterborough railway station, and he went away in his fully comprehensible self. However he returned totally incomprehensible. This wasn't the beer for he was far too young to frequent public houses. The reason for this transformation was his introduction to Manchester Back Slang which another lad on the weeks holiday camp had taught him. This was simply the case of adding the sound 'aig' before vowels when speaking. He went away being named a plain Chamberlain and came back as Chaigambaigerlaigin. Such a mouthful was soon shortened by friends and acquaintances to a simple Chaig, a moniker he has bore for the rest of his life.

For the final stage of this walk into Whitby, there is a choice. Given the right tide conditions one can take to the beach and wander along the sand to Whitby. However if the tide is in one is prevented from accomplishing this choice and, as on this occasion, having to resort to wandering along the road for a mile or so to the far side of the golf club. It is a busy road but there is a pavement, although this does not make a pleasurable walk. I would recommend the beach route but make sure one reads the local tide times prior to setting out.



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

Alight the bus at the Staithes stop on the main road. Take the road down into the village. This steeply descends down into the old part of the village, making a sharp right turn at the bottom. Pass the Cod and Lobster pub, then take Church Street on the right. Proceed to the top and just past the last house, where the road ends, a footpath continues up. The path passes some farm buildings with the original Cleveland Way heading across the fields. A new path has been opened on the left which leads directly to the cliff with some spectacular views of Staithes below. Take this, identified by the England Coast Path waymarkers and follow the cliff path.

Continue along the cliff tops until the path turns to a surfaced road still following the cliff top. Ignore the paths leading down the cliff. Where the road heads inland, take the path on the left that hugs the cliff top. Below is all that remains of Port Mulgrave. Keep to the path along the cliffs. This then turns inland to emerge at a road junction. To the left, just down the road is the Cliffemount Hotel where refreshments can be obtained. The Cleveland Way continues on the road immediately opposite to where it emerges from the fields. There are two roads so for clarification it is the one on the left that leads down to the beach. Continue along the beach across the sand. Head for the far end where there is a crag from which a stream emerges. Do not get mixed up with another creek that precedes this. The creek is soon identified by the stone steps and handrails with the acorn symbol on one of the wooden uprights. This is a bit of a climb, having to clamber up first the right hand side of the stream, then across to the left and then up and out of the creek to the top of the cliffs.

The path once again follow the cliff-tops. At Kettleness follow the footpath that follows around a small crag then continues on the cliff side of some buildings. The path soon turns with the coastline and then leads into some woodland. This masks the descent into Overdale where there is a steep descent with steps and handrails down to the trackbed of the former railway.

Continue along the trackbed as it winds its way down to Sandsend emerging at the car park. Follow the sea front road through the village and out towards Whitby. Given the right tide conditions one can descend onto the beach and walk through to the town. If it is high tide then one needs to follow the road up out of the village for a mile until there is a track on the left at the far end of the golf club, Take this down to the seafront where one can either walk the prom or take the higher path along the cliff top. Proceed through the whalebone arch at the far end and descend down to Pier Road that follows the river. Turn right and follow the road to the bridge. Continue along for the bus station and railway station

Rosedale Cliffs
Rosedale Cliffs


The Beach Hotel, Sandsend View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
The Parade, Sandsend

Sea front hotel with a small bar offering limited selection of ale.


The choice of this pub was convenience. It was on the sea front and on route. Black Sheep Bitter was the token ale, it was ok but nothing outstanding. The barman was somewhat grumpy not wanting to engage in conversation and complaining about the wind when the door opened. It was a warm day, the sun was shining. Judging by the comments on trip adviser we are not the only ones to have received such hospitality. For those who clamour for the service skills of a Basil Fawlty character then this is probably the place to go.

The Waiting Room, Whitby View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub

With no apologies, the quote from their face book page sums up this excellent little micropub: We are trying to create the essence of what a good pub was in the not too distant past. To this end, we are creating a convivial atmosphere where conversation takes over from electronics, people enjoy each others company and the drink provided is of a high standard. A good range of ales is accompanied by wines, ciders and soft drinks in the atmosphere of an old English station waiting rooms, complete with steam engines that terminate from the North Yorkshire Moors Railway


Having already visited this emporium of finest ale, the lure to return was set. Amazing place. friendly and welcoming and an excellent range of ales and just how a traditional pub should be. Highly recommended.

Final ascent out of HobHole
Final ascent out of HobHole


The Hobhole HobView in OS Map | View in Google Map

At the Southern end to Runswick Bay is a crag where Claymoor Beck outfalls to the sea. To the side of this crag are a series of caves with one said to be seventy feet long by twenty feet wide known as the Hobhole that has been described as having a romantic appearance, with its entrance being divided by a double pillar

It is this cave that is said to be inhabited by a local mythological entity known as a Hob. A Hob is described as a household spirit, somewhat similar to a hobgoblin and is specific to Northern England. They are said to be helpful entities, providing assistance in chores and tasks although one should never offend a Hob least it become a nuisance or even worse, turn into a malevolent force.

An example of such offence can be found in a piece of folklore from Whitby which states

Around 1828 one hob became annoyed when the farmer’s wife cut back on expenses by replacing the cream she left out for him with skimmed milk. The sprite stopped completing household chores, instead making strange noises, tearing sheets off the bed and even killing poultry.

At Runswick Bay, the Hob is locally known as HobThrush. Although it has been noted that fishermen in the 1800s would refuse to pass hob Hole at night, this Hob was genial and would cure children of whooping cough. The mothers of inflicted children would take them to the entrance of the cave, where they would have to illicit the Hobhole Hob with the words

Hob Hole hob, my bairn’s gotten t’kin cough,
Take‘t off, tak‘t off.

There appear to be no records stating whether this was successful.



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: 2018-12-12

2017-06-07 : Initial publication
2018-12-12 : General website updates


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