A Stroll With Stu - lungbuster of a walk worth it for the coastal views
A year or two back, on a stroll to Staithes, I promised that someday I would attempt the descent to Port Mulgrave.
Back then, the route involved ropes, amateur abseiling and nose bleeds because (after heavy rain), the original path had gone for a stroll of its own and reconvened as a pile of mud and stones in the adjacent bushes.
However, energised by the news that a new path has been created down to the beach, I clambered aboard the X4 with several other masked bandits and made my way to Hinderwell.
Combined with a later clifftop walk to Runswick Bay this is just a four-mile ramble, but the climb back up from the beach will account for 95% of the calories.
I had a vague memory that I’d been down to the old port on a school trip, after a bizarre crawl through a ventilation shaft of an old mine up on Boulby cliffs.
Led by our geology teacher holding a burning copy of the Sunday Express, we scuttled along on all-fours for hundreds of yards, before emerging like giant moles on the cliff edge.
A fellow survivor of the trip – that would now get the teacher locked away for years – insisted that my memory is irredeemably raddled.
Apparently, the beach bit never happened and it is probably time for me to take up knitting and eating Werther’s Originals.
From the bus stop at the north end of Hinderwell, head up the side road leading to the village of Port
Originally known as Rosedale, the area was renamed after local landowner the Earl of Mulgrave, partially to distinguish it from the other Rosedale across the Moors and partly because he only had about 25,000 other things named after him.
Keep an eye out for two friendly goats in a field on your right and continue seawards past old mining cottages until you reach the Cleveland way footpath.
A wooden gate ahead (along with some warning signs suggesting that this is not a brilliant idea) leads onto a good path with occasional fabulous views through the bushes as you snake slowly downhill.
Presently, you will reach the area where I assume the land gave up its struggle with gravity.
A fixed rope ahead takes you off the edge of the world (and I enviously watched some schoolkids skipping up from the beach, just as I would have done at their age).
But fear not!
Look sharp right and a new metal stairway shows the way.
It leads to a further path with many more steps cut into the soil (and a rope handrail that has already keeled over) ultimately depositing you onto the beach area of the old port.
The port was built in 1857 by Sir Charles Palmer – industrialist, MP and all round toff – to serve his new seaside ironstone mine.
Later he moved mining operations inland to Dalehouse and transported the stone across country, then down a steam-driven roped railway in a tunnel to Port Mulgrave.
The bricked up entrance to that tunnel is still visible about 30 feet up the hillside.
When the mine was linked to the national rail network, the port was abandoned and left to decay, and even partly blown up by Royal Engineers to thwart any cheeky attempts by German landing craft to use it during World War 2.
It is a serene and beautiful place now.
Just a line of fishermen’s huts, the derelict piers, a scattering of boats and a few fossil hunters scouring the shale beach, alongside the lapping of the waves and the occasional calls of a variety of seabirds.
I lingered awhile and contemplated walking around the Nab to Runswick but, with the tide turning, I concluded that even my old geology teacher might not risk that.
So after a fruitless search for ammonites – the beach is supposed to be littered with these curly fossils – I made my way past an old tractor (how did that get there?) and back up the way I came.
It’s a lungbuster and no mistake, but soon you will lurch back to the top where you can stop for air and admire those views of Lingrow Cliffs once again.
Turn left, along the Cleveland way path and after 40 minutes or so of gorgeous cliff top walking, the track darts right to emerge onto the road near the Runswick Bay Hotel.
Nice place too, but sadly it was closed when I went, so I hopped on the next bus to the East Barnby stop, where a quick dash down Goldsborough Lane led me to the fabulous beer garden of the scrumptious Fox and Hounds pub for lunch and some well-earned refreshments.
They are doing a great job in these horrible Covid-19 times and deserve your custom!