Staithes from Hinderwell round

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North Yorkshire is England’s largest county and one of the most rural comprising of the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors, Vale of York and the coastal regions and they all have their own distinctive natural beauty. The county covers an area of 3,341 square miles and 40% of this area is covered by National Parks and with stunning moorland, beautiful dramatic to rolling hills, ancient woodland, a spectacular coastline, splendid waterfalls, many attractive villages and hamlets and many historic sites such as abbeys, castles, priories, stately homes and traditional pubs there is something for everyone of all ages to explore.

The North York Moors has one of the largest expanses of heather moorland and it became a National Park in 1952 and covers an area of 554 square miles stretching from the Derwent Valley to the Cleveland Hills just south of the Tees. The sandstone and limestone hills have formed a rugged landscape with wide heather clad moorlands on the open tops and pretty farming communities and villages in the many sheltered valleys many of them hidden away. To the north and west the moors are defined by the steep scarp slopes of the Cleveland Hills on the edge of the Tees lowlands to the east the moors are clearly defined by the impressive cliffs of the North Sea coast and to the south by the broken line of the Tabular Hills and the Vale of Pickering.

Hinderwell is a village straddling the A174 road south-east of Staithes and north-west of Sandsend. The village was formerly known as Hilderwell named after the local St Hilda, the Abbess of Whitby, who was made a saint due to a miracle which happened in Hinderwell. It is said that when Hinderwell was in a period of drought the villagers asked the Abbess as she passed through the village to pray for water. Shortly afterwards a natural spring appeared in the village. The natural spring said to have heeling properties can still be seen bubbling out of the ground in St Hilda’s churchyard which stands in the centre of village. Hinderwell also has a Methodist Chapel, village hall, post office, general store, cafe, two pubs, a fish and chip shop, hairdressers and a petrol station. A local bus service runs regularly to Whitby.

Port Mulgrave is a derelict former ironstone exporting port on the east coast between Staithes and Runswick Bay. It was a busy port for 40 years but the harbour was redundant by 1920 due to cheaper foreign sources of ironstone becoming available and the harbour was left to decay. The gantry was destroyed by fire and the machinery was sold off as scrap in 1934. The west harbour wall was destroyed by the Royal Engineers to prevent its use as part of any German Invasion during World War II. The rows of miners’ cottages and the mine owner’s house are still there. The mine shaft itself which has now been capped went down several hundred feet to the seam of the iron ore. A side passage just above sea level allowed the ore to be moved directly to the boats loading in the harbour, the remains of which can still be seen, without being winced all the way up to the cliff top. There is an uneven path down to the sea but it is very steep.

Staithes is a lovely seaside village with lots of character. Its winding streets and higgledy-piggledy cottages give the village a look of time stood still. Once one of the largest fishing ports on the North East coast, today it is mainly a tourist destination. At the beginning of the 20th century there were 80 full time fishing boats going out from Staithes now there are only a few part-time fishermen usually using a traditional vessel of staithes called the coble. Its harbour is sheltered bounded by high cliffs and two long breakwaters. Permanent residents have dwindled due to a good majority of the houses being second homes or holiday cottages owned by outsiders from towns and cities. For holidaymakers and visitors Staithes has so much to offer from walking along the cliffs to ambling through the narrow winding streets following the Painted Illusion Trail, from crabbing and fishing to beachcombing and rockpooling, from visiting the Heritage Centre to the Staithes Ghost Walk or just to relax by the harbour. Staithes is a fantastic place to discover and there are so many fossils that this area has been nicknamed the ‘Dinosaur Coast’. In 1745-46 James Cook, the British explorer, navigator, cartographer and captain in the Royal Navy, worked in Staithes as a grocer’s apprentice where he gained his first passion for the sea before moving to Whitby to join the Royal Navy. William Sanderson’s shop where Cook worked was destroyed by the sea but some parts were recovered and incorporated into Captain Cook’s Cottage. Staithes is also the location for the much loved CBBC series ‘Old Jack’s Boat’ starring Bernard Cribbins as Old Jack and Salty the dog.

The Cleveland Way was opened in 1969, the second National Trail to open in England and Wales, and follows a horseshoe line for 109 miles taking in much of the wonderful North York Moors National Park.  The route starts in the market town of Helmsley and heads across the heather clad moors, through woodlands and dales to reach the coast at Saltburn where it then heads south along the dramatic coastline for 50 miles along rugged paths passing through old fishing villages and pretty coastal resorts and towns to Filey.  The Cleveland Way also passes through many features of history and heritage such as Helmsley Castle, Rievaulx Abbey, Mount Grace Priory, Whitby Abbey and Scarborough Castle just to name a few.

The Walk

We follow the minor road turning left at the junction into the village of Port Mulgrave and head downhill towards the sea. At the end we turn left onto the Cleveland Way, coast path, and follow the tarmac road which becomes a track and grass path. When we go through the gate we bear left downhill across the field about a hundred yards from the cliff edge towards Staithes (if you wish you can head straight down keeping to the Cleveland Way and walk along the edge to Staithes). When we meet the Cleveland Way again at the farm on our left, we turn right to view Staithes from above then retrace our steps back to the farm and turn right and make our way downhill into Staithes. At the bottom of the hill we turn right. After a cuppa and a sandwich in the cafe we take a wander round the shops then head over the footbridge to the other side of the river to view the lifeboat house. We then retrace back over the footbridge then turn right to continue uphill through the village. We pass the Captain Cook Inn on our left and continue ahead to the main road. We cross the road turn right and take the next left sign posted Borrowby. We soon pass the Fox and Hounds pub on the right and into the tiny village of Dalehouse. We turn left at the footpath sign just before the bridge and follow the concrete track. We go through a gate and keep following the track. When we arrive at a footbridge with a caravan site on the other side we cross over and turn immediate left. We follow the path round to the right slightly uphill. At the brow of the hill the path splits and we take the right path more or less on the level. We pass a wooden sculpture of an owl and follow the footpath through the woods. Soon after passing a second seat the path splits again at a yellow sign we bear left uphill. At the brow we head forward downhill and follow the path to the left. We cross over a bridge and soon the path splits we take the right hand fork. Within 10 minutes we come out at a lay-by (the old road where there is some more free parking) and turn right which takes us to the main road. We cross over turn right and follow the grass path for about 5 minutes back to where we started.


This is an easy walk on gravel/grass tracks and paths with some gates, footbridges and some gradual inclines and declines, also some minor tarmac road and a short distance of main road.

Elevation: approx lowest point 6.30m (20.70ft) approx highest point 106.10m (348.10ft) approx ascent 157.90m (518ft).

Distance and Start Point

Approx 4 miles allow 2 hours using OS Explorer Map OL27, North York Moors, Eastern area. Allow extra time for a wander and/or a bite to eat in Staithes. This walk is done anti-clockwise.

Start point: lay-by on the right at the second turn off for Port Mulgrave just north of Hinderwell.


Staithes and Hinderwell are situated on the A174 on the east coast of North Yorkshire.

Directions and Parking

Travelling north on the A174 pass through the village of Hinderwell to the second turning on the right for Port Mulgrave and parking is just on the corner off the main road.

Parking: Free parking just off the main A174 at the turn off for Port Mulgrave and also in the lay-by a little further on the left or there is some free roadside parking in Port Mulgrave and a pay and display car park in Staithes, high season tariff £4.40 for 4 hours, £5 for 6 hours and £6 for 24 hours.

Toilets and Refreshments

There are public toilets in Staithes at Bank Top car park and down by the harbour. For refreshments in Staithes there are pubs, cafes and shops and also a fish and chip shop near the main road. In Port Mulgrave there is the Squid Beak cafe, which was formerly the Ship Inn, only open at weekends and bank holidays. In Hinderwell there are shops, a cafe, two pubs and a fish and chip shop and at Dalehouse there is the Fox and Hounds pub.


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