An ‘alum-inating’ route

The Alum Mine site at Ravenscar.
The Alum Mine site at Ravenscar.

Written by Maureen Robinson

This route of about six miles is well worthwhile, offering a great contrast of scenery, especially along the Cleveland Way.

The North York Moors and its coastal fringe were made into one of Britain’s National Parks by the 1949 Act. Work on the route started in 1953 and the coastal section of the Cleveland Way was most easily produced by following Cleveland Street. This Roman road linked the coastal signal stations from Saltburn to Scarborough. On May 24, 1969, Britain’s second official long-distance path was opened.

Throughout its length the Cleveland Way is well way-marked, frequently with the Countryside Commission’s official ‘badge’ – a white acorn. From Scarborough another seven miles of cliff top walking to Filey completes the 100-mile Cleveland Way, but not today!

This walk provides stunning views, cliff top meadows with sheep-grazing and woodland footpaths. You’ll discover industrial heritage at the old Alum Works, with information boards along the way.

Ravenscar Visitor Centre provides a welcoming rest point just off the Cleveland Way footpath and cinder track for cyclists. Refuel with a drink or ice cream, or maybe dine at Raven Hall Hotel.

Access to the starting point at the disused Beacon Windmill is by private or public transport. Take the bus service 115 to Ravenscar, and request a drop-off just beyond Staintondale’s trekking centre at Beacon Windmill, sited near the crossroads.

Start. Walk along the Scarborough Road, heading north-west towards Stoupe Brow. This is a lovely lane providing elevated views over the moorland and spectacular coastline. Soak in the breathtaking scenery, and rounding the bends, cross the bridge over the dismantled railway which is at the foot of a 33 per cent gradient. Look out for Stoupebrow Cottage Farm ahead, and to your left. Don’t miss it. To your right seek a metal farm gate and telegraph post where a Cleveland Way sign indicates your turn off from the lane. A very short, enclosed footpath leads to the cliff-top.

Turn right to head south-east, with trees to briefly screen your view seawards. Entering a handgate, pass by a pill-box on the cliff edge. Crossing a small stoney stream you shortly enter another handgate near bushes.

Reaching a Cleveland Way sign, a couple of steps down to cross a fine wooden footbridge, and it’s up and away to a second footbridge. What great views towards Raven Hall Hotel and your destination.

Seek ahead a left turning signed to the Alum Works. Take this path down to a footbridge and ascend to a handgate. Enter, and walk between two fields towards a red-roofed building. Go through a handgate and descend steps to a fine wooden platform spanning a marshy area overgrown with tall water horsetail (equisetum sp) – very aptly named! Negotiate about 37 steps up to a stone building. Read information boards 
regarding the Alum House etc as you keep to the fenced perimeter of the alum site to turn right on to the Cleveland Way once more. Keep to the Cleveland Way and a well-vegetated valley is soon seen to your left. Ascend the path and steps to the top and read the sign. Go left along the Cleveland Way footpath with firm concrete tracks.

Meet a three-finger post and fork right as signed Cleveland Way footpath, with gorse and broom bushes either side of the fairly steep ascent. Woodland features as your 
ascent continues.

Meeting another finger post, turn left on the Cleveland Way. Take advantage of the seat with views from Robin Hood’s Bay to Ravenscar. Enjoy a welcome flask of coffee as we did! Then follow the next sign straight ahead along a footpath partly constructed of old bricks. Can you find one imprinted with Ravenscar?

Keep straight forward on a concrete drive to the visitor centre and shop off left. Just beyond are the gates and entrance drive to Raven Hall Hotel and Peakside. Turn immediately right along Station Road, and about half a mile ahead is the Station Square Tearoom selling hot and cold drinks, ice cream, snacks and light lunches etc. Explore the old railway station and pass the coastguard station as you retrace your steps to the 
hotel’s entrance. Then, leaving the hotel behind you, keep to the road as it passes St Hilda’s Church off left, and returns you to the old Beacon Windmill once more.

Distance: 6 miles entire route. Omit Station Square and it’s about 5 miles.

Refreshment: Visitor Centre, Raven Hall Hotel, and Station Square Tearoom. The latter is open daily 10.30am-5pm but closed Friday. Only open until November 2.

Christmas stocking filler

Driving and Rambling On features 16 scenic drives and rambles plus maps for only £3.30 per copy. Available from Crag and Moor, 38 Victoria Road (until October 31 only). Or send an A5 stamped, addressed envelope, plus cheque for £3.30 payable to Mrs E.M. Robinson to 14 Malvern Crescent, Scarborough.