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Sunday, 10 July 2011

Robin Hood Bay and Cinder trail - 5.94miles

I had seen a good robin hood bay walk on the east ridings website but wasn't sure if i wanted to walk it or not. When we were discussing our walks with the relatives we stayed with, we spoke about the pros and cons of robin hood bay over Runswick bay slightly further up the coast, and after flicking through a visitor guide we elected to walk Robin Hood. The guidebook, published by the council, described this walk as "easy and level" but if was anything but and very misleading.

We parked at the station car park at Robin Hoods bay, and the ticket price was very reason for what is so clearly a tourist seaside town. Again we changed into out walking shoes and off we went. As you leave the car park you cross to the left of the road and follow the Cleveland way signpost, up a residential road and then through a kissing gate.
You are immediately at the top and on the edge of the cliffs, and you walk around the end of Rocket Post field, the information post explaining that the post was used to fire rockets off to help in rescues. You can see a great view of the bay behind you and theres a bench to sit on to look across the waves.
On the left hand side you can see some of the railway tunnels that mark the cinder trail opposite the Cleveland way for the first part of the walk. You are walking around the edge of fields, being used to graze cows and you come to the old lifeguard lookout at around 1.5 miles on the map. Up until now the path is a sandy cliff top path, with  a few cobbled potholes in places but relatively flat, we cut across a field diagonally, theres a stile on the way into the field and out of the field at the other side. At about 2 miles you can see the scars left on the cliffs from the Jet mining which used to take place around here.  A little bit further on and the first small descent comes, the path is very uneven in places and in the wet would be tricky to say the least. before you start the descent, look back over your shoulder here for a view of where you've just walked, its much prettier looking back, than just the fields you pass on the inside.
The climb up is steep, uneven and hard work! we passed a few walkers and a spaniel on their way down, but the path is crumbly and weak in places, people walking to the side of the cobble stones used for this climb. Here the guide book is blatantly wrong, its hard work to get to the top and you feel it in your legs. A short water break stop at the top and we walk on. At 2.5 miles you come to a caravan site, and you turn left here and walk up through the park, this is the end of the cliff side part of the walk. It was on the grassy bank just before the caravan site that we stopped for our lunch, a welcomed break in the sunshine. Then after a short while, we packed up and walked up, and man is it steep walking through the park! in fact after the rest our muscles were crying out here. As you come out of the caravan site you are walking along the road for a short while. Whilst its a quiet access to the site only road, be careful its very narrow and winding, you wouldn't want to meet a caravan here. A little way up the road and you see the cinder trail which we took to go back. You are now walking on the old railway line, it was discontinued as a line in 1965 and has been made into a cycle and walking path, its clearly signposted as the cinder trail.

The walk is faster and pleasant, less windy than the clifftops, and the gravel underneath is sometimes loose so watch your step along here. We saw a dozen or so cyclists both young and old and some in between all using the paths. At this stage whilst our legs were feeling the walk so far, the view of another walker on the horizon behind us and a pride of not being overtaken, made us pick up our pace a little and miles 4 and 5 were 20mins and 22mins. You walk at the top of the Bay Ness field, having walked along the bottom on the way, as you can see we weren't the only ones enjoying the view!

The path ends just down from the first gate you entered, and we decided to walk towards the village store, to pick up a cold drink and a flapjack square. We discussed walking from Robin hoods bay to Whitby as you could see it in the distance and it couldn't be more than another 2-3 miles from the caravan site, and it would be all coast paths if we came back again.

Our first proper coast walk and we both enjoyed it, the level walk back along the train route a nice combination too.
Date: 5th July 2011
Total walk: 5.94 miles / 8.83km
Descent:253  ft
Ascent: 297 ft
Average pace:  24.09 mins a mile
Accompanied: Gary Bygrave

Spurn Head- 8mile walk

Spurn Point had been recommended to us as a good place to walk, and after having a look at the great website - - I had downloaded a map of the headland and we were ready to go. It was a late start for us, as we stopped off for some fresh supplies in the form of apples and some handmade scones on the way in driffield, and then we drove down to the point, parking in the Kilnsea car park at the top of the spur, furthest away from the lighthouse. Please note, that the drive down to the lighthouse is on an un level, sandy and twisty road so if you aren't keen on that sort of thing, or like us drive a lowered sports car, then best to park at the car park at the top and walk down rather than vice versa. Also check the tides too, they do wash over the road and the estuary side path when they come in.

The temperature today was hotter than yesterday, maybe 30 degrees. You can see the lighthouse in the far distance as you set off, so if walking towards your goal does it for you, this would be a great walk, for me, seeing the end point all the time from the beginning, if somewhat smaller and far away, was a little bit galling as you're wandering along but was an incentive to keep going in the heat. The head is a National Nature reserve, and house an RNLI lifeboat station at the far end, close to the current lighthouse, and the remains of the original lighthouse.

Again after we changed into our shoes (i had put shorts on today), packed up our ruck sac and used the toilets, we set off through a gate and along the path marked spurn footpath. You start by walking on a grassy footpath along the edge of the beach, and you couldn't fail to see the butterflies and moths flying around and by you. We saw copious amounts of these red and green ones, but haven't researched what type they are yet.

Walk along the grassy path, until the path curls around some white bungalows, you may see birdwatchers here, you walk past the bungalows and here you can choose to walk the estuary side of the path, or the beach side, we choose the estuary side. The water was out a little, exposing rich grass verges to the water, and the mudflats the other side. There were many waders, and birds foraging around in the mud. we tried walking along the mud side, but the path was through long grass and on a soft uneven mud/sand mix we decided to scramble back up to the road and walk along that for a little while.
The worst thing about walking down the road was that on either side of you there is a bank, meaning no wind, no whispers of relief from the sun pounding down on you and it was hot and sweaty. At around the 3 mile mark, we moved across the path and onto the beach side. You can see a lot of man made debris, concrete slabs, iron work and sea defences at the edge of the water side and there are lines of groins just laid out on the way to the waters edge.

At one point, as the the falling rocks had blocked the beach and the bank up to the coast path was too soft to climb up, and so we took the road path instead, though we had to scramble through prickly bushes to get there, so if you are walking with kids be aware of this.

There were 2 hides along the estuary side too, both well located and easy to walk down too, and both empty when we passed by. Dotted along the road we also saw this blue tinged thistle too.
As you approach the end of the spurn, you reach the lighthouse, unfortunately now its closed to the public, but is still an impressive structure. The paint is peeling but that's not surprising considering how isolated and windswept this part of the world is.
As you pass the lighthouse, you come to the RNLI houses. When we were here the RNLI information hut was closed, and make a note there are no facilities down here, no toilets, no cafe, not even a vending machine. You can see the remains of the previous lighthouse, due to the constantly shifting nature of the head, there are a couple of other remains of previous lighthouses too, though we didnt see them, they may be buried.
We did have a look around, and wandered over and across the WWI ruined buildings just past the Pier and we watched the swallows fly across and down the Pier wall, if you're light of foot and like the history of the war, its well worth a scramble around down here, you can imagine the atmosphere and each building tells a story if your mind is open. We walked back to the RNLI hut, and on the grassy bank, sat down to eat lunch. The apples and scones purchased earlier on in the day hungrily eaten and washed down by a cold coffee for me and water for the hubby.

It seemed even hotter than when we left as we turned around for the walk back to the car. Again we walked some on the road, and some on the beach path, you cant go much wrong here you can see the way back, and you may even get like us and count down the pylons towards the end, less than 10 a welcomed thought by this time.

On the beach there were families and couples enjoying the weather, but make sure you suncream up on your walk as we were both caught out by the sun and caught the sun a little too much, i forgot to apply cream to my calves and these were red and hot by the time we got back to the carpark. As we came back to the first set of houses, and crossed back onto the grassy path we were nearly home, just before the path ends at the carpark there is a small pond of water to the left, and as we passed a group of starlings flew out of the water and around, just posing for pictures and brought a final smile for the day from us both.

I would recommend this walk for any birdwatcher, and would carry an extra bottle of water if i come back.

Date: 4h July 2011
Total walk: 8.10 miles / 13.03km
Descent: 34 ft
Ascent: 67 ft
Average pace:  26.57 mins a mile
Accompanied: Gary Bygrave

Walking over the humber bridge and back - 3.92miles

One of the things that always signifies "up north" to me, is when you have to cross the Humber bridge. We have driven over it on every great tour we've made up to Scotland and it evokes many great memories for me. This time i knew it was going to be different though, as I had very reluctantly agreed to walk the bridge both sides on this trip north. Now, to me, being scared of heights, this was to be quite a challenge,and that was before arriving at the car park and checking the temperature which was flashing at around 29degrees! Its an impressive structure as you drive over it, even more so as you leave the car park (which was much larger than i had anticipated, great facilities, lovely clean toilets, open tourist info centre, and a hand full of shops and cafes. On the Sunday we visited it was near packed in the bottom car park, cloest to the cafes and again, it was a surprise to see this area being so well utilised by people).

For me walking under the bridge and up the steps to the start of the bridge you notice the length of the bridge, you can see the middle but not the end. You cant see over the edge of the bridge as the structure here is large concrete supports, a few hundred yards forward and the edge becomes visible as it changes to a hand rail. To someone like me, scared of heights, its hard to do anything but walk roadside of the path, furthest from the edge but settling into a walking rhythm calmed me down a little. Hubby keep on saying "look over, come to the edge" wasn't overly help full but hey. I was doing well and enjoying the walking until about half way when i realised that a skirt wasn't the best thing to be wearing to walk. The journey up had meant that i wanted to be cool, and i changed into my walking shoes in the car park, thinking nothing of the fact i was in a skirt. The chaffed inner thighs i was left with at the end of the day, is a reminder i will not be forgetting anytime soon ;o(
When i did venture to the edge the view, and a little of the breeze coming across the water, was more than worth it. You can see clear across the Humber, you can see the hessle viewpoint below and the RSPB centre on the far side. The water was murky and muddy but had plenty of life still in it, and the birds circled and flew past at regular intervals.

The first crossing just under 2 miles went quickly and walking down off the end of the bridge to cross under the road and start again wasn't as bad as it felt starting the walk. The second side seemed to go quicker, maybe as i finally found my head for neights, well if not my head for it then at least an acceptance of being so high. As we walked back on the left hand side of the bridge, we saw the launching of a hovercraft, a sight not seen before and was a welcomed short break before finishing the crossing.
A nice easy start to our holiday, and a big tick off my personal to do list, i would have preferred a cooler or even a drizzly day, but apart from that a nice stroll out.

Date: 3rd July 2011
Total walk: 3.92miles / 6.3km
Descent: 174 ft
Ascent: 165 ft
Average pace:  22.55 mins a mile
Accompanied: Gary Bygrave