A day of beautiful sunshine and clear blue sky; the air crisp and the visibility excellent – you can see the ships on the north sea in the distance as they head north for Teesport, or south for the channel. At 11:00 the tide is out and will not return until mid-afternoon, so the beach is hard packed sand with hardly a footprint to break the shiny surface. The beaches of the North Yorkshire Coast, and Northumberland further north, are glorious to walk on. The Royal Hotel at Runswick Bay, from where we started walking, is closed during the week in winter, opening at weekends or emerging from the winter shut down at the February half-term holiday, but the Cod and Lobster was open and, more interestingly, busy and thriving though the rest of Staithes was closed.
Today was another part of the Cleveland Way, the stunning coastal walk that clings to the cliff edge along this wonderful coastline, mostly high level so you can see both right out to sea and inland to the North York Moors. It’s a circular walk, although you could simply go along to Kettleness and then retrace your steps. We walked down through Runswick Bay and along the beach until you reach a stream running down through a narrow valley. The path climbs up, almost through the stream, until you reach the cliff top. There are somewhere around 200 steps up to the top but there’s a welcome bench at the top with a view back to Runswick Bay. Follow the path until a right turn, which takes you across to the route of the old railway line. Follow this back to the road into Runswick. About 3.7 miles [6.0 km].
A short drive takes you back to Staithes. Down the hill and through the village brings you to the Cod and Lobster, right on the harbour edge, and open on a cold Monday in January. Good food, excellent beer and very friendly service [well, it is Yorkshire] was the ideal end to a walk.
Staithes was home to the Staithes Group of Painters in the 19th century. It’s still a place for artists – the light and the atmosphere are quite magical and the buildings not at all smart, but traditional stone and pantile cottages with many used as holiday cottages. There’s a good art gallery in the centre and, for this year, the North York Moors National Park have sponsored an Illusion Trail around the village as part of the Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage, with trompe l’oeil painting on local buildings by Paul Czainski.
Pub Cod and Lobster. No website but plenty of beer…