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The Cleveland Way is a 109-mile-long footpath which runs between Helmsley and Filey and celebrated its 50th year in 2019. It takes in Yorkshire’s glorious heather-clad moorland and stunning coastal scenery – with historic castles, ancient relics and charming fishing villages for you to discover along the way.
We’re following the 3-mile coastal section of trail from Staithes to Runswick Bay, where you can enjoy the gorgeous sea views, sample some delicious food and drink at either end of the trail, and learn a bit abound the area’s maritime history too.
It’s a great option for warmer weather, as the breeze from the chilly North Sea will cool you as you walk – just remember to pack plenty of sun cream, a hat and lots of water.
So, pack a bag, lace up your walking boots and let’s start this route!
You can begin your walk in Staithes, where you can park at the public car park and walk the 500 metres through the charming fishing village to the Captain Cook & Staithes Heritage Centre, where our walk begins.
If you’ve got some time to spare, why not pop into the centre to learn about the village’s most famous resident – Captain James Cook? He spent his younger years here as an apprentice before heading off on his maiden voyage. At this time, Staithes was one of the largest fishing ports along the north-east coast, and you can learn more about this time at the Heritage Centre.
Once you have reached the bottom of the village, join the Cleveland Way and follow it south past the Cod & Lobster pub – which would make a great stop-off point on your return journey. From here, you can see the picturesque harbour laid out below you.
This first mile is the steepest section of the walk, rising from around sea level to 275ft (84 metres) above sea level – so let’s get it out of the way first! In between huffing and puffing, you may also spot some lovely wildflowers like vetch, clover and bird's-foot-trefoil.
This second mile is a mostly level section and passes through the little hamlet of Port Mulgrave, which marks about halfway between Staithes and Runswick Bay. It’s a former ironstone port with a cluster of cottages at its head and a peaceful beach at the bottom. You can detour further through here towards Hinderwell to visit the local pubs and restaurants if you want a little refreshment.
The path here used to be a little lower down the cliff than the current path but due to coastal erosion, it’s now been placed a little higher for around a half a mile.
Watch out for wildlife like skylarks, blackcaps, swallows, sandmartins and, of course, a variety of gulls dipping and diving on the thermals, as you come around the headland before arriving at Port Mulgrave.
Onto the final section of the walk, where the path with dip and then climb again as you come around the rock promontory known locally as The Crocodile Head, before coming into Runswick Bay – pronounced “Runsick” by the locals.
This gorgeous horseshoe bay has captured hearts for many years and once used to have a stretch of wooden chalets lining the beach. Today, the myriad tiny streets host quaint and picturesque cottages which clamber on top of one another for the best sea view. The village also boasts the last remaining thatched former coastguard's cottage on the Yorkshire Coast which clings to the rock face like a limpet.
You can either drop down into the bay to take a refreshing dip in the water or stay higher up on the cliffside to make the most of the hotels’ bars and restaurants before turning around to head back along the path to Staithes.
If your legs aren’t up to the challenge – or you’ve had a few too many sherbets at the hotels – the X4 runs every half an hour or so from outside the Runswick Bay Hotel back to Staithes and takes around five to ten minutes. Of course, services will be less frequent in the evenings and at weekends and bank holidays.
Stay with us on the Yorkshire Coast
We have a wide range of beautiful and luxurious cottages on the Yorkshire Coast that make the perfect base for walking the coastal sections of the Cleveland Way. Here are some of our favourites:
Just 6 miles from Runswick Bay, this delightful 17th-century cottage was previously featured on Homes By The Sea and it’s no surprise why. Inside you’ll find opulent interiors with a calming and refined colour scheme. Luxurious touches include a roll-top bath – perfect for soothing muscles after a day walking the Cleveland Way. Outside you’ll find an award-winning garden which is the ideal spot for soaking up the last of the sun’s rays, drink in hand.
Also, only 6 miles from Runswick Bay, this modern and sleek home would suit a family looking to explore the Yorkshire Coast together. The long sandy beach at Sandsend is within 200 metres and when you return home, you have spacious and contemporary accommodation in which to unwind. The impressive, multi-level garden makes summer socialising a dream.
Surrounded by beautiful North York Moors scenery and in a tranquil and traditional moors village, this charming countryside cottage is only 7.5 miles from Runswick Bay. Inside is homely accommodation decorated in a country style, with lovely touches like a slipper bath, a wood burner and spacious garden. Two dogs are welcome too at this property, and we’re sure they’ll love exploring the Cleveland Way as much as you!
Feeling inspired to explore the Cleveland Way? Whether you want to stick to the coast, or roam the wild moors, take a look at our complete guide and find inspiration for your next walking holiday. Or browse our full collection of delightful Yorkshire cottages and start planning your next trip to this wonderful county.