Eleven participants gathered overlooking the sea at Saltburn on a sunny Sunday in September. Saltburn is in many ways a creation of the railway, with a planned street network and an imposing former railway hotel overlooking the sea. In one direction the wide views included the signs of industrial Teesside, while in the other we were able to anticipate some of the even more imposing sea cliffs towards which we were to proceed.
After briefly descending to sea level, we were faced with a long climb towards Hunt Cliff. Along the way it became apparent a popular organised sponsored run was in progress. Several people overtook us, also in an attempt to reach the top of the cliffs. We were happy not to keep up, but the higher we climbed the more extensive the views behind us became. The remains of a Roman signal station were on the cliff edge, perhaps a sign of the equivalent of the internet of its day. We also found ourselves alongside the freight railway that led to the Boulby potash mine. This surely was one of the most scenic sections of line anywhere but sadly without passenger trains. At the top we paused next to a “charm bracelet”, or iron ring sculpture with dangly ornaments, which we imagined might produce some intriguing sounds in windy weather.
We descended more gradually to Skinningrove beach, doubtless quite a wild place in winter. In today’s sunshine it was more idyllic and maybe for some a place to return to on a future occasion. A short way beyond we reached Skinningrove village, originally a local fishing village until transformed in the nineteenth century by the developing iron industry. Here we stopped for our lunchtime sandwiches. We noted nearby the Repus, a restored and mounted fishing coble that previously worked from Redcar. We didn’t take too seriously a very steep-looking path up the cliff on the far side of the village, until we were told, that’s the way we were going – perhaps after all we shouldn’t have eaten quite so many pork pies!
On reflection we realised ups and downs were likely to be a feature of the best coastal walks, and the top of this climb rewarded us once again with good views. Soon after we turned inland for a while. We followed a circular route around the Hummersea nature reserve and passed through a series of fields and farms. Descending a very steep hill, on a proper road this time, we returned to Skinningrove, and then followed our outward route back to Saltburn. We were a little disappointed that the historic funicular railway wasn’t working – it might have saved us from the 200 or so steep steps that we had to climb to finish. Traditional seaside ice-creams for some rounded off the day, before we thanked Jim our event coordinator, and dispersed.
This was my first GOC event attended since the start of the pandemic restrictions early last year. It was good to meet up again with friends following such a long period of absence, and good to see our NE England group still active and in good health. Thanks are due to Jim for facilitating the event and for giving us a fascinating if sometimes slightly strenuous itinerary. Thanks also to Ivor and Jim for the some of the illustrations, and as always to all of our participants for their company on the day.