Unfortunately, those days are rare and I usually find myself planning a route that avoids great pools of gloop and slop, where almost as much progress is made sideways as it is ahead.
There is only a short stretch of goo on this 4.5 miler around Victorian Saltburn which you can take at a leisurely pace as you take in the sights of this rejuvenated little resort.
Starting at the Station square, avoid the queues outside the chemists as rumours circulate that they’ve have had a delivery of lateral flow tests, and head down Dundas Street past Signals cafe.
At the end of the road is the splendour of the former Zetland Hotel.
Opened in 1863, this grand and palatial hotel (now apartments) had its own railway platform, where guests could scuttle straight up to their rooms, for 2s 6d a night.
Cross the road to the Mary Martin building.
Now a holiday let, this was originally the entrance and ticket office (operated by Mary) for the valley gardens below.
Drop down the steps and turn right, but quickly edge further left and zig-zag downhill.
Make your way to the seafront and turn left above the sands.
The sea was boiling on my visit, providing a scary ride for a hardy band of surfers, watched by queues at the chippies and cafes away to your left.
The pier building opposite the cliff lift (which only operated once in 2021 in order to film a TV show), houses an amusement arcade which I’ve grown to really enjoy visiting.
It’s full of tipping point style machines, dodgy old cranes that couldn’t lift a feather and various other ways to discard bags full of tuppenny pieces.
It’s a back-in-time half hour for my wife and I, every time we visit.
It would be rude not to have a stroll down the pier.
It has lost various chunks to the elements over the years, but I used to go fishing here in the 1960s when there were shelters at the end.
I well remember going on a Boxing Day and watched a proud gent unwrapping the new state-of-the-art rod he’d got for Christmas, attaching a brand new reel together with some fresh line and a shiny hook.
Eagerly, he attached a strip of herring as bait and proudly prepared for the first cast with his new kit.
He flung the rod over his shoulder and thrust it in the general direction of Denmark, only for it to clatter on the pier handrail.
With a loud ‘Boing’ still ringing in everyone’s ears, the collision caused him to lose his grip and the whole lot went over the side into the foamy sea.
He spent several hours dragging a weighted handline across the seabed before giving up and heading off to ‘fess up to his wife.
I guess it is still down there, somewhere.
Get yourself down steps near the pier onto the beach and carry on past the multi-coloured beach huts, returning back to the Tarmac as it curves left up the valley towards Hazel Grove woods.
Take the first concrete path on your left and climb all the way up to the top (well, nearly).
Bear right up steps near the summit to access a path below the road cunningly called the ‘Lower Path’.
The area here has been beautifully decorated and landscaped by volunteers and includes an unusual sculpture of Henry Pease made from various items of scrap metal.
Pease was almost single-handedly responsible for the development of the town.
He had interests in mining and the railways and had a vision of creating a seaside resort for the benefit of families at either end of the income spectrum.
The valley gardens, the pier and an early cliff lift were all part of the grand plan and we’ve already seen his favoured white bricks at the old station hotel.
Over to your left is another huge building – Saltburn House.
Originally a convalescent home for his workers, it is now a B&B and, perhaps a tad bizarrely, one of the dying breed of working men’s clubs.
I only have a paragraph or two left, so head right opposite Saltburn house on a route signposted as the National Cycle Network to Marske.
After passing a large ‘residential park’ keep going for an occasionally bendy half mile past pretty allotments (like the Valley gardens, they look better in Spring), ultimately reaching a small community garden of bug hotels, flower beds, rose bushes and bird boxes on your right.
Fifty yards beyond, take a sharp right onto a path down through the woods to return to the sea front where – in the far distance – you will see the rather excellent Ship Inn, for a rewarding slurp of whatever you fancy.