Yorkshire’s Klondike, £3.5 million, Viking Country, Whaling in the Past.

Post 131: 13 March 2017, Cleveland Circles 21

Having walked through’Yorkshire’s Klondike’ on many of our recent walks and ‘bathed’ in the historic remains of the industrial revolution, which helped to make the United Kingdom prosperous, we were now a different sort of area; lovely sandy beaches, ice creams, fish and chips and tourist hotspots!

One of the overriding impressions I have had on this walk is the incredibly hard manual work that many of the workers in this area must have experienced between the mid 19th and 20th centuries, hence many early deaths recorded in some of the graveyards we have been in.  It was with some joy that I had just learnt that there is to be a £3.8 million Land of Iron project (supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Park Authority, David Ross foundation and numerous other organisations, including a small army of local historians whose knowledge of the area’s past is unrivalled) over the next five years to revisit the period of industrial growth and exploitation, mainly of ironstone and alum, to record and conserve the various monuments and structures and protect the flora and fauna which went on to reclaim the moorland. It is a fitting tribute to the workers who helped to put the ‘Great’ in Great Britain through sheer hard work and ingenuity.

It was only appropriate that, after leaving York at 7.30am, we started walking at Sandsend at 8.45am with the sun shining. This was after all a proper seaside area.

As this was a figure of eight walk, we were able to leave some food and drinks in the car to reduce our rucksack weight.




Climbing out of Sandsend along the A174 to Lythe and St Oswald’s Church the reduction in rucksack weight was a bonus. The view back to our eventual destination, Whitby, was lovely.


We arrived at the church and were surprised to find it open.

There was also a sad gravestone from the 1700s, where four children, two aged 2, and two aged 13 and 19 had all passed before their parents.


However, the inside of the church was a revelation with information and historical artefacts worthy of a small museum. There was a lot of Viking history with in the past a Viking graveyard being nearby.



After some muddy but enjoyable inland walking across Overdale, our anticipation grew as we neared the coast. We were not to be disappointed on reaching The Cleveland Way on the coast.


The tunnel and ledge originally proposed for the railway line to Sandsend can just be spotted in the far distance above the gorse.


Another section of the railway line tunnel emerged further along the coast towards Sandsend.


Continuing along the dismantled railway line we came across remains of alum workings, which looked like a moon landscape.


With changing light there were again beautiful views of Sandsend Beach




Until we eventually reached the beach and the opportunity for our coffee and banana break.



We had completed a rather exhilarating 4.5  miles of walking, but still had 8 to do. It was at this point that cloud started to appear and a chill to the air. There were some impressively built sea defences on the beach, reminding us of the strong storms that batter the east coast from time to time. P1060618

We eventually reached Whitby and the Captain Cook monument, with him looking towards the sea, church and abbey. The seagulls showed little respect for the great explorer! He came to Whitby in 1746 as an apprentice to John Walker, the ship owner.


The earliest record of Whitby as permanent settlement was as Stereancehealh in 657 where Oswy the Christian King of Northumbria founded the first abbey, under abbess Hilda. In 867 the monastery was destroyed by Vikings. Whitby was reported at one time as being the sixth largest port in Britain. In 1828 it was the fifth biggest shipbuilding centre in the country. Cook’s first round the world trip was on Endeavour. Cook made his second and third voyages to the Pacific on Resolution.


Nearby were whale bones commemorating whaling and brought from Alaska in 2002. At the height of whaling (1753-1833) a total of 2,761 whales were landed here.


We had lunch on the harbour and watched the ships and visitors pass by.


After lunch we passed the famous Magpie Cafe which even has signs to tell customers where to queue!

There are a number of excellent fish and chip cafes in Whitby.

After some hard ascending road walking we headed to countryside towards Newholm


Finally, we passed Dunsley Hall, which is strongly recommended by Sid the Yorkshireman  when it has special winter/spring offers of dinner, bed and breakfast for two for £89. It is an excellent location for getting to Sandsend, Whitby and coastal walks in the area.

Miles Walked 12.5

Calories Burnt 14,000

25,414 Steps

Average Pace 18.13 Minutes per Mile

Fastest Split at over 12 miles 15.59 Minutes per Mile.