Stroll With Stu: try this five-mile coastal walk from Redcar to Saltburn
Every time I fill the bird feeder, I sink closer to Australia and fetch half a ton of mud back to the kitchen.
Every field path will likely be the same, and clart avoidance is limited to beaches, old railway lines and high moorland paths (which seem to have a limitless ability to absorb water).
A big beast-from-the-east style freeze up would help, but you’ll have to turn the clocks back to 1963 for that.
This five-miler takes in a long stretch of sand between Redcar and Marske, before a short climb on to a lovely path atop the low cliffs leading to sunny Saltburn.
Starting at Redcar Central Station, head seawards down Station Road (Farmfoods on your right), past a series of bars that only light up at 11pm on a Friday, and you’ll soon reach the seashore at the new(ish) Regent Cinema.
Redcar Central Station was my first ever posting when I joined British Rail in 1975.
Currently, they’d love everyone to buy their tickets online, but back then we had many hundreds of pre-printed tickets for virtually every station in the country, which had to be dated by inserting them in a vicious spring loaded machine, which even then belonged in the National Railway Museum.
Head down on to the beach next to the cinema.
Some weeks ago in one of those storms that flooded my garden, the wind and tide carted off all the sand and took it to Norfolk.
It revealed a petrified forest that surfaces from time to time, dating back 4,000 years when sea levels were a lot lower and these gnarled old tree trunks enjoyed a coastal view.
They’re worth a look if they haven’t been re-covered.
Away to your left is a large space where the steelworks used to be, and beyond that, on a clear day, you may be able to see Hartlepool and much of the Durham coast.
Turn your back on Sunderland and head towards Saltburn, averting your gaze as you walk past the overwhelming disappointment that is the Redcar Beacon.
Built at great expense (£600 per centimetre), I wasn’t expecting the “can you see it yet?” loftiness of Blackpool Tower, but you can’t even see this rusting pimple from Redcar High Street.
The craggy outcrops of Jurassic mudstone at low tide are an impressive sight as you continue past a series of old wooden groynes, to reach the low sand dunes known locally as the Stray.
The beach is very popular from here to Saltburn - especially with dog walkers – but it is a wide expanse and you will have stacks of space to drift away and let your imagination take you to warmer climes.
Lots of seabirds – Oystercatchers, redshanks and others which wouldn’t stay still for long enough to be identified – will politely edge out of your way as you reach Marske with its handful of pretty boats littering the beach.
The dunes begin to rise slowly now, and half a mile or so after an elaborate and modern looking stone structure on the sands (I’m guessing it is something to do with sewage, but I didn’t feel inclined to examine it), head up a path in a gap in the sandbanks, soon turning left onto a rough path.
Very slowly you will gain height as you climb through dunes, field and gorse bushes, affording luscious views in all directions including, ultimately, the increasingly attractive town of Saltburn.
On reaching the outskirts at a deep gully, the path jags right before a long series of steps take you down onto a paved area, where you should head seawards before climbing up onto the lower prom to pass a series of Beach Huts.
These huts are very popular and offer – as Saltburn does in general – a sort of throwback day at the seaside, with chips, candy floss, deck chairs, sand-in-your-toes and icy paddling all firmly on the agenda.
The lovely amusement arcade at the end of the pier can be included in that agenda, as of course can the cliff lift which will take you up to town with change out of a £2 coin.
The lift (or rather “Tramway”) is, admirably, run by the council and operates on the principal of water balance.
The top car has a tank that is filled with water, and the weight takes it down the track, simultaneously pulling the other car uphill.
At the bottom, the tank is emptied and the car now at the top is filled to repeat the process.
Built in 1884, this is Victorian engineering at its finest. It is an absolute treasure and a ‘must-do’ on any visit to Saltburn as (in my opinion!) is lunch at the excellent No.23 craft beer and pizza House on Milton Street.