An Area Steeped in Mining History, Antartica Explorers, Sid the Yorkshireman on the Broken Bridge, England’s Smallest Church, The Earth is Flat!

Post 119: 19 February 2017, Cleveland Circles 16

With an excellent weather forecast we headed out from York on a Sunday at 7.30am with the added bonus that at that time the traffic was incredibly light. We were able to start walking from Slapewath at just after 9am with an immediate climb and good views. The yellow gorse reminded me of my days of living on the Land’s End Peninusula 1975-1979 where such gorse was abundant. It was also a reminder that spring is not far away.



We compared our view with one from a book in the late 1800s, when ironstone mining and works were in their heyday. Interestingly the gorse was growing then!



The Margrove Valley hereabouts has been an area of mining since alum was first mined from the Rockhole Quarry in Slapewath in 1603/1604. When the alum mining ceased there was a switch to jet mining. Ironstone mining than started in the Margrove Valley in 1863 until, after economic difficulties in the 19020/30s, the last mine closed in 1954, ten years before mining stopped altogether in Cleveland.

Ironstone is a rock containing iron ore and on the discovery of ironstone at Loftus in 1848 mining of iron ore began in Cleveland. The ore was sent to blast furnaces on Teeside and Tyneside. Later on this walk we had views of the steelworks at Redcar.

After going through Skelton Green we had views towards Skelton and Saltburn in the distance.



As well as Skelton Castle we could see the Redcar Wind Farm 1.5 kilometres offshore with its 27 Turbines. This was a good location for a coffee and banana break.


Descending to Skelton, we were surprised to come across a lovely garden with a plaque and statue dedicated to “Frank” Wild, who came from here and was Ernest Shackleton’s right hand man on his famous Antartica expeditions.



We passed the memorial square in Skelton in bright warm sunshine.


To arrive at the All Saints (Old) Church which was constructed in 1785 and where pirates graves are found.


A couple of graves really struck home as all the children had died before their parents. I can only assume that some disease or illnesses had killed the children but the parents had survived. What a tragedy and how things have changed for the better since with our much improved health care system and the National Health Service.



Skelton Castle, built in 1790 and still occupied, could be seen from the churchyard.


We then continued to cross Skelton Beck but from the appearances of the collapsed bridge it looks like Sid needs to go on a stricter diet!


We then arrived at reputably the smallest church in the country at 18 x 15 feet!

It was locked but I managed to get a picture of the sparse interior through the door bars.


We then went through the village of Upleatham to Errington Wood and fine views towards the coast.


And our lunch spot.


A trig pillar confirmed that The Earth is Flat 


The steelworks at Redcar were quite visible. It is sad that these were closed in 2015 after many years of production and there seems no hope of them re-opening. The Teeside Steelworks were founded in 1917 by Dorman Long, the steel being used to build structures such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Tyne Bridge and the Auckland Harbour Bridge.


One wonders what will if anything replace these heavy manufacturing industries?

Dropping back down to Errington Wood we came across some of the local wildlife.

Towards the end of the walk we walked to the bottom of the viaduct at Slapewath.


And as a final reminder of the massive industry that took place here in the late 1800s and early 1900s came across a blocked off mine adit,


And a gunpowder store.


One can’t help but admire the industry and hard work carried out in these parts, which made a massive contribution to the Industrial Revolution and the wealth of this nation.

Miles Walked 13.6

Average Pace 19.38 Minutes per Mile

Calories Burnt 1600

Steps 28,348






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