Whilst walking the other day (in the November rain, at dusk), I had a sudden and strong yearning for what I call 'my happy place' walk. It's a walk I've done countless times. There are photos of me doing parts of it as an enthusiastic toddler, rosy cheeked in Winter and sun-kissed, chubby and grinning in Summer. There are photos of me as a less enthusiastic teenager (sorry folks but walking just wasn't my thing at that time). There are photos of my children on this walk - playing, growing, disappearing into sand-dunes with our hyper-excited dog. It is a walk that has always been part of our story. In fact, it was the last walk I did before having my lung removed - a special, hopeful walk symbolising what I strived to return to post-op. The draw of this walk is always, always strong.
As I mentioned in my previous walk (Walk #1 - Bramley to Kirkstall), this is not a guided walk and it will involve some (on this occasion, easy) research. However, a little bit of effort is extremely rewarding. This could not be more true in this case. The aim of all my Monthly Meanderings is to give a flavour of walks that I have enjoyed. Hopefully, this is no exception in sparking interest to get the walking gear on and do it!
A walking gem
So where is this gem of a walk?...The answer is a very fine stretch of North East coastline between a seaside village called Marske-by-the-Sea and beautiful, Victorian Saltburn-by-the-Sea.
The walk is within easy reach of Leeds. Obviously, it takes a while to get to any coastline when you live in the middle of a country but it is often easier to get to Marske than other coastal treasures like Whitby and Filey. This walk also provides a great walking day out that can be extended if you wish and I'll include a few extensions for the more ambitious at the end of this article (see below).
By my rough reckoning, Marske to Saltburn is about 2 miles. Enough to set off in the morning, have fish and chips in Saltburn at the fabulous takeaways and restaurants on the front, and then wander back. It's a relaxed seaside walk that gives you enough time to have a play on the beach too.
Sounds great, how do I do the walk?
I start at the carpark on the Coast Road opposite Outwood Academy Bydales. Incidentally, I went to this school though it didn't look like it does now. It is possibly one of the most exposed, windiest school sites ever - imagine cross country! If you are lucky, there is a great coffee van here (not every day) and toilets are also available.
Walk down the path at the far end of the carpark (nearest the bend in the road leading into the village). The path is short and steep but you are then on the beach. Beach walking is my absolute favourite type of walking. There is nothing better than walking with the sight and sound of the waves; the smell of salt in the air. You might like to choose your day, though! It can be a very chilly (but invigorating) experience in Winter and you can end up a bit sand-blasted. I don't mind - it all adds to the fun!
Anyway, at the bottom of the path, turn right. On all but the mistiest days, you will be able to see Huntcliff (the cliff behind Saltburn) and this lump of a cliff forms an important landmark for your walk because you are going to head towards it. Enjoy the sound of oyster catchers, gulls and waves as you wander along the wide sandy beach that goes on for miles. It is so easy to find space on this beach and it is not uncommon to have stretches to yourself, especially first thing in the morning. It is gorgeous!
Walk for around an hour until you reach the Prom at Saltburn (it will take longer if you dawdle but that might be just what you need). You will recognise when you reach Saltburn as it usually gets a bit busier. You will see the pier, colourful beach huts and the Cliff tramway (a funicular railway which is a fun way to climb to the town centre). Look out for surfers taking advantage of the waves, too!
What can I do when I get there?
Aside from eating delicious, fresh fish and chips, there is plenty to do and see in Saltburn. You might choose: a game of mini-golf on the front; a walk along the pier and to its old-fashioned amusements arcade; a pint in the Ship Inn (nestled under the cliffs in 'old Saltburn' and well-used by notorious smugglers); a wander round art galleries and the valley gardens.
And the return back?
You have options for your return journey and it is possible to walk through Saltburn woods to come back a different way - a lovely, green, tranquil oasis of calm. As a beach-lover, I prefer to return the way I have come - back along my favourite stretch of beach. Somehow, it seems so different than your usual out and back walk and you might be inspired to wonder what it would be like to keep walking. The answer is fabulous! Maybe a walk for another day?
This walk has something for everyone - young, old, four-legged. Only the stretch nearest the Prom in Saltburn is closed to dogs for some of the year (1 May until 30 September), making it a paradise for my walking buddy, Oscar. So, you will gather that I really, really recommend this walk - I always feel lighter, happier and ready to face anything afterwards. I hope you get the chance to do it - it's such a good one!
Walk from Redcar to Saltburn (about 4 miles).
Walk from South Gare to Saltburn (about 8 miles).
Both these walks are also fabulous. Once you reach Saltburn, it is possible to get the train back (or you can arrive at the start of all of these walks by public transport with a little extra walking). You can also begin in Saltburn but the town can be busy at the weekend or during holidays so starting elsewhere is a great option (and provides free parking in lots of cases).