It’s always interesting to see how the administrative boundaries often reflect the geographical features of an area. The Borough of Redcar and Cleveland might have a long coastal stretch and be right next door to North Yorkshire but you can tell straightaway, somehow. the area is more gritty, semi industrial, with the houses renovated unsympathetically, rows of former mining cottages badly rendered and all the windows replaced in the 1960s. Whilst the village along the North Yorkshire stretch of coast are full of holiday makers, pretty cottages tumbling down the hillside [Staithes, Runswick Bay, Robin Hoods Bay and the gem Sandsend], those in the villages are their poor neighbours – Brotton, Skelton, Loftus, Liverton Mines … and Skinningrove.
Today’s walk was from Skinningrove, south up to the cliff edge for a walk along part of the Cleveland Way. Skinningrove is a small village where the original stone cottages have been supplemented by later Victorian [rendered and new windows] and more recent Local Authority rented housing. Lacking in charm if not character. Supreme amongst the residential stock are the Pigeon Lofts.
Skinningrove Homing Society is know all over the country and the pigeons treated like royalty, guarded day and night. Some of the houses in Cape Town are less luxurious… There is a statue to the Homing Society and plaque recording the pigeons’ use in WW2, particularly the D-Day landings and many of the birds were awarded the Dicken Medal, the pigeon equivalent of the Victoria Cross. So there…
What remains of the beach and harbour, since the decline of the iron ore mining and alum works, has a smattering of boats and their wonderful launching tractors.
The walk starts at the car park near the harbour and heads south, quickly climbing the steep steps on the hill to the seaward side of the road. You follow the path for a couple of miles, exploring the old quarry if you wish, then returning back to the car park. Very much a cliff edge walk with views northwards to Hartlepool and, in the distance on a clear day, Sunderland. Breathtaking.
There is a Fish ‘n’ Chip shop in Skinningrove [“closed for repairs – we’ll open when we’re finished”] and rumours of a café, but we didn’t find it. Instead we returned to Real Meals in Saltburn. Set on Milton Street, just behind the Zetland Hotel, it’s both a deli and a café with an imaginative menu and friendly staff. Extra chocolate on the cappuccino…
Deli and a café Real Meals Saltburn