by Maureen Robinson
Filey has long been one of the most important fishing centres on the Yorkshire coast. Together with Staithes, they rivalled Grimsby and Hull, with fishing being the main source of income for all families living in the area of Queen Street, or the ‘Old Filey’.
Nowadays, tourism is a booming source of income, and blooming well with its parks and gardens, attracts many visitors. Enjoy this short walk in all seasons, as it highlights Filey’s gems.
Start near the Country Park and Church, with parking in the vicinity of Arndale Way and Church Cliff Drive.
Walk towards St Oswald’s Church with Church Cliff Farm to the left. Take the footpath off right signed to the town centre and church. From an information board bear right away from the church to cross Church Bridge spanning Church Ravine. Almost immediately seek in brick walling an opening into a walled and fenced footpath high above the ravine. Keep to this path until it elbows right into a small car park. Go left by the car park’s walling and descend railed steps. Keep to the railed path where it branches to the upper walkway leading to the cliff-top. (1) You have reached Cliff Top Garden, a small, steeply-sloping public garden at the end of Queen Street. It descends below a seating area known locally as ‘Fisherman’s Lookout’. When purchased by the council in 1987 it was overgrown land. Volunteer gardeners discovered a series of Yorkshire stone terraces, originally built in the 1920s by a talented bricklayer working with only one arm! Relax and enjoy the views of Filey Bay’s golden sands. Can you see the ‘fisherman’ sculpture beside The Beach?
Descend steps and wind down terraces to the foot of Sand Hill Lane. Close by is Coble Landing with its Lifeboat House, refreshments, fishing boats and amusements. Turn right in front of the old fishermen’s cottages on The Beach. View Flamborough Head to the southern horizon. Deepdene Apartments are admired to the right, and below you’ll discover ‘Finlay the Fisherman’ – a 12ft tall sculpture named by Filey lad, William Broadbent. Entitled ‘A High Tide in Short Wellies’, it was made from weathering steel by sculptor Ray Lonsdale. The sculpture makes a powerful statement about the decline of Filey’s fishing industry summarised by a poem at the sculpture’s base. Do read it.
Immediately beyond, at the foot of Cargate Hill lies (2) Northcliffe Garden, a quiet walled area which originally belonged to Northcliffe House, sited above. Commemorative seating attracts visitors for its open sea views. Walk up steps to the back retaining wall where a greenhouse once stood housing an excellent grape vine. Admire the decorative floor tiles in red, cream and black which still remain in this natural sun trap. Rose beds, flower beds and water lily pond are beautiful in season.
From Northcliffe Garden’s main entrance, ascend the adjacent Cargate Hill for a few paces only. Seek off left, across the road, steps ascending into a shady, grassed picnic area. Continue to the top and turn left on a grassy path leading into The Crescent.
Follow the Crescent and enter (3) Crescent Gardens near the wishing well. Crescent Gardens stretch from Filey’s old Convent School to the White Lodge Hotel covering almost four acres. It has to be Filey’s floral ‘jewel in the crown’, attracting many visitors. Observe the Roman stones originally unearthed near Filey Brigg. Ahead is the Bandstand where open air band concerts are held on Sunday afternoons from 2pm to 4pm in summertime. Keep to the path parallel with The Crescent and seek a seated ‘fisherman’ sculpture having a smoke!
Leaving the gardens, go straight across the top of Crescent Hill to the path still parallel with The Crescent. Near the White Lodge Hotel enter (4) Glen Gardens, occupying eight acres. Pass the putting green and veer right to a small boating lake and cafe. Keep straight forward across the green beside the children’s recreation ground to enter West Avenue. Here, turn right by terraced houses, bowls and tennis courts.
St John’s Church shortly features to your left before leaving West Avenue to turn right into Belle Vue Street. Then go left along John Street to the far end, where you’ll find to your right Filey Visitor Centre, Information and Concert Hall. Swing left up Murray Street and you’ll discover (5) the Memorial Garden, tucked away in the town centre. Although small in size, it’s full of interest, and a peaceful place to sit. The entrance gate is the War Memorial itself.
Admire the central fountain installed by the Filey Lions Club to celebrate their jubilee year. The present aviary is home to a range of small birds and always delights children.
Leaving the Memorial Garden, turn right towards the cross roads. Facing the Methodist Church, go right along Union Street. At the far end turn left along Mitford Street. Reaching the road junction, go right by Shrimpers Cottage, and passing The Station public house keep straight forward by the end of Queen Street. Filey’s most impressive museum is close by. It’s a must when open in season.
Signs indicate your route down Church Street, with its ‘olde worlde’ cottages (ie one dated 1705), leading to the Church Bridge once more. Retrace your steps towards St Oswald’s 12th century parish church, and do take time to visit it if possible.
Go left as signed to the Country Park. Where the footpath ends at Church Cliff Farm, go left towards the park. At the road junction go right and then left to extend your walk into a sixth area. (6) The Country Park covers 48 acres. It has been developed as a leisure and environmental project with caravans and tents, a large car park, children’s play area, pitch and putt course, cafe and toilets.
Open spaces allow games, kite flying, walking, bird-watching or having a picnic. The choice is yours!
Distance: 2-3 miles depending on options.
Refreshments: There are plenty of facilities and variety along the route.
NB An easy walking route, with no special footwear required.
Christmas Stocking Filler
A new volume of Rural Rambles by Maureen Robinson, is now available from sole agents Crag and Moor Outdoor Shop, 38 Victoria Road, Scarborough. 17 walks and maps for only £3 per copy. All profits donated to Scarborough’s RNLI.