The walk from Saltburn-by-the-Sea to Skinningrove is just over four miles and, according to Google Maps, it should take just under half an hour to complete the journey. However, depending on your level of personal fitness, walking speed, and how many times you stop to enjoy the view, the journey could be a little quicker or quite a lot longer.
It’s a pleasant walk, with some stunning views and several interesting things to see along the way, so if you do decide to walk down the coast from Saltburn to Skinningrove, don’t be surprised if it takes you longer than Google leads you to expect.
Although I completed the journey and then walked back, many people who do this route continue walking. The journey between Saltburn and Skinningrove is part of the Cleveland Way.
If you are not familiar with the Cleveland Way, it’s a 110-mile walk that begins in the market town of Helmsley and ends in the seaside town of Filey, near Scarborough.
The Cleveland Way is a very popular hiking route.
In addition to being part of the Cleveland Way, the walk along the cliffs between Saltburn and Skinningrove is also part of the England Coast Path.
The England Coast Path is a more recent hiking trail that officially opened in 2020. Parts of the route are still under construction but, when it’s completed, it will be 3,000 miles (5,000 km) long and be one of the longest continuous walking routes in the world.
The walk between Saltburn and Skinningrove is a better option for less ambitious hikers but can still be a little challenging if there is a strong wind blowing in from the sea.
If you are thinking of doing the walk, this blog post should give you an idea of some of the things to expect. I’m also going to offer a brief explanation of some of the most interesting ones, such as The Charm Bracelet.
This post has more pictures than my blog posts normally have because I’m going to try and avoid making the post too long and a picture paints a thousand words, don’t you know?
Saltburn-by-the-Sea (The Journey Begins)
I arrived at Saltburn by train. If you do the same, it’s only a short walk down to the beach and you have the pleasure of looking down on a lovely cove on the way.
The cove is home to a bar called The Ship. It practically sits on the beach and has a tall hill behind it. That’s where the walk to Skinningrove begins.
The ship is a lovely pub. I’ve mentioned it on this blog before. The blog post also provides a little information about the history of Saltburn-by-the-Sea and some of the things that are worth seeing while you are there.
As you approach The Ship, look behind it and you will see a dirt path with steps cut into the hill. Unless you fancy a quick pint or something to eat, that’s where you need be.
It’s hard to miss the route. There’s a wooden sign near the side of the road that makes it clear Skinningrove is 3.5 miles further along the Cleveland Way. The sign also points out you will be passing through the Huntcliff Nature Reserve.
The nature reserve may have extra appeal if you are a bird spotter. Ninety-seven different species have been spotted in the area. Landscape Britain provides the complete list: https://www.landscapebritain.co.uk/british-nature-reserves/north-yorkshire/hunt-cliff/
When you get to the top of the hill, one of the first things you will see is the stone marker that appears at the top of this post. In addition to bearing in the words “Cleveland Coast,” it also has some ammonites carved on it. People often find this type of fossil along this stretch of the Yorkshire coast.
Passing Through HuntcliffeNature Reserve
As you continue walking, one of the first noteworthy things you will see is a Tees Valley Wildlife Trust information board. If you read it, you will learn about the problem with cliff-top erosion and other interesting things such as the kittiwake city.
It’s hard to get lost when you are walking a coastal route like this. All you have to do is keep the sea on your left-hand side and you are good to go.
Nevertheless, there are still plenty of route markers. The one in the picture below may tempt you to take a quick detour to Brotton for a pint of beer and something to eat.
One of the next things you see on the journey from Saltburn to Skinningrove is a little sad. There are several colourful painted stones and slates with inspirational messages on them laid on the ground in Huntcliff Nature Reserve.
With messages such as “stay” and “life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain,” it seems this area of the nature reserve may be a suicide hotspot. Some of the texts even bear The Samaritans phone number.
Apparently, this area of the North-East coast used to be home to a Roman signal station in 367-385 AD. Due to coastal erosion, practically all traces of it are gone but there’s an information plaque that will give you an idea of how things used to be.
Richard Farrington Sculptures
As you progress a little further with your walk along the Cleveland Way from Saltburn to Skinningrove, you will encounter an unusual metal sculpture near the edge of the cliff. It’s called Pillar and it’s the creation of the freelance sculptor Richard Farrington.
As you continue walking the Cleveland Way towards Skinningrove, the track runs parallel with the railway line for a while and you find yourself closer to the edge of the cliff.
A little distance from Pillar, there is another Richard Farrington creation, called The Charm Bracelet, it’s a little more interesting and, even from a distance, it does a good job of catching the eye.
As the name suggests, Charm Bracelet is a metal sculpture that resembles a giant charm bracelet with 10 metal charms hanging from it.
The Charm Bracelet is a local landmark. Lots of people take time to admire it. However, it’s not the original sculpture.
In 1996, vandals sawed through the base and rolled the sculpture over the cliff into the sea. Only one charm was recovered – the Cleveland Bay Horse.
It’s sad that such a thing happened, but most people who pass by the Charm Bracelet will never know most of it is a replica.
At this point in the journey, Skinningrove is getting much closer and, although the railway line moves further inland, there’s still a fence that forces you to stay pretty near to the edge of the cliff. I wouldn’t want to walk this route on a day when there is a powerful wind blowing the wrong way.
On the approach to Skinningrove, the track moves a little more inland but it’s not long before a change of direction is required. For the last leg of the journey, you need to head towards the beach.
Just before you turn left and make your way to the sand, you will find yourself at Cattersty Viewpoint and will have the opportunity to read the information board that tells you about some of the things you might want to see.
One of them is a concrete pillbox on the beach that used to be part of the coastal defences during the war. Unfortunately, I never got to see that up close. I planned to take a closer look at it on my journey back to Saltburn but, by then, the sea had come in and the pillbox was no longer safely accessible.
A little way behind the information board there is a wooden bench with an inscription carved into it. For a moment, I thought I was reading lyrics to a Coldplay Song. It’s actually a quote from the Scottish writer Debi Gliori:
“Look at the stars, how they shine and glow, some of the stars died a long time ago. Still they shine in the evening skies for you see, love like starlight never dies.”
I didn’t know that at the time though. I had to look it up later.
As you head down towards the beach, history repeats itself. At Saltburn, you have to use steps cut into the hill. You have to do the same at Skinningrove but this time you are heading down them instead of going up.
After a short stroll on the beach, you get to a gap between a structure that resembles a stone wall. It’s rather interesting to pass through it and see what lies on the other side.
When you are on the other side you will discover a long stone jetty stretching out into the sea. When I arrived, several men were fishing from it. I was curious so I asked one of them what it was for.
Apparently, the village of Skinningrove used to be home to a steelworks. When it was still active, there used to be rail tracks that ran from the steelworks and along the jetty so that the steel could be loaded onto boats.
When you leave the jetty, it’s only a short walk to the village.
Directly ahead, you will see a row of quaint, waterside houses and, if you glance to the left, you will notice a carved effigy of a fisherman peering from the front of a boat.
The boat is called The Repus. It’s a traditional type of open fishing boat called a coble. This type of boat was developed in the North-East of England, so it’s worth stopping and taking a quick look.
When The Repus was discovered, it was in pretty bad shape. It used to belong to a fisherman from Skinningrove who died during the 1980s.
A local charity called the Skinningrove Link Up decided to repair The Repus and install a couple of effigies to commemorate all the people from Skinningrove who lost their lives at sea.
Skinningrove village is only small. It so it does not take a long time to explore. If you decide to do so, you will find a lot of old stone-built houses along with some newer buildings made from red bricks.
Many people who are following the Cleveland Way will probably pass through Skinningrove and then continue on their way and, with towns like Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay further down the coast, there are plenty more good things to come.
However, that was never what I planned to do so, after a brief exploration, I walked the Cleveland Way in the other direction and went back to Saltburn.
If you are planning on walking this section of the Cleveland Way, I hope this blog post gives you an idea of the things to look out for. If you are just looking for something extra to do during a visit to Saltburn and have a few hours to spare, perhaps Skinningrove is a walking destination you may want to consider as well.
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