Cleveland Way: Guisborough Woods to Saltburn


General Data

The trail follows paths and tracks through Guisborough Woods before emerging out into fields. It continues descending, passing through Spa Wood before reaching the A171 at Slapewath.

The trail then climbs steeply up through woodland, but fortunately the ascent is not too long. It then crosses fields to reach Airy Hill Farm, after which a track slowly descends northeastwards to reach a road at Skelton Green. More paths lead to Skelton and then down to the A174 and the valley of the Skelton Beck.

The trail crosses the beck, and for the last mile to the sea follows its northern bank. It passes under a large railway viaduct and heads on through woodland, eventually emerging onto a road in Saltburn. This is then followed along the eastern edge of the town to reach the cliffs above the sea, before descending along the road to the promenade immediately to the east of the pier.

Distance  8.3 miles
Ascent  892 feet
Descent  1841 feet
Est. time  4 hours 7 minutes
Difficulty  medium

Map of the leg

Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format.


This leg starts off at a clapper gate that leads from Gisborough Moor into Guisborough Woods near Highcliff Nab at NZ611135.

Follow the path as it skirts just inside the western edge of the woodland. The path curves to the right away from the wall for a short distance to meet a track. Turn left along the track for a few yards, and then right along another path that climbs up to reach the summit of Highcliff Nab. Follow the path as it curves to the right at the top and climbs slightly for a couple of hundred yards to join a track. Turn left to follow this track eastwards as it slowly falls. Ignore a track leading off to the right, and instead follow the main track as it curves down to the left to join another track at NZ619141.

Continue northeastwards along this track; when it curves to the right, turn left to continue straight on along a path through the forest. This path climbs uphill and then curves to the right; do not continue straight on downhill. It then curves to the left, still climbing to join another track. Continue along this track; as it soon curves to the right continue straight on along another path that curves to the right. As the path forks, take the lesser left-hand branch.

When it forks again, take the lesser right-hand branch that climbs uphill to join a bigger path. Turn left down this and follow it as it descends. When it meets another track, turn left and follow it alongside a fence on the right and trees on the left. After a while the path curves to the right up a few steps to reach a pedestrian gate. Go through this and follow it as it immediately curves to the left. The path descends to cross a stream and climbs up the other side. Follow a fence on the right to reach a clapper gate that leads out onto a track at NZ639154.

Turn left to follow this track as it plunges steeply downhill. Just before a tarmac track is joined at the bottom, turn right through a clapper gate to enter woodland. The path runs between fences; when the fence on the left ends, continue following the fence on the right as it curves to the right. The path climbs uphill; go through a squeeze-stile as the path continues climbing. Go through a second field stile, following a fence on the left to reach a track. Turn right up this track for about five yards and then left through a third squeeze stile, after which the path continues between fences.

Go through a fourth squeeze stile and follow the path as it curves half-left across an area of tracks to reach a fifth squeeze stile. On the other side the path continues between fences. A sixth and seventh squeeze stile guard a track coming down the hillside, and the path continues beyond these without fences. When another path is reached, turn left downhill to reach a clapper gate beside a field gate and then turn left along a track that parallels the A171 main road. It passes a little picnic area on the right and then joins the A171 at NZ642157.

Carefully cross the A171 to reach the pavement on the northern side of the road, and start following the road westwards, passing the Fox and Hounds pub away to the right (this is the first pub on the trail since Osmotherley, about 30 miles away). Take the first road to the right and then immediately turn left along an access road. When the road soon ends next to a house, go through a squeeze stile to join a path with a fence on the right; this leads to a second squeeze stile. Immediately afterwards the path curves to the right to join another path, passing a disused quarry on the left.

The path climbs steps uphill and curves to the left to reach a third squeeze stile. The path continues up more steps that take it above the quarry to reach a fourth squeeze stile. More steps lead to a fifth squeeze stile and some benches. Here the path curves to the right to follow a fence on the right; the gradient slackens as the path heads north with woodland to the left. The path goes through another squeeze stile and turns right to head uphill with a hedge on the right. It goes through a gap in a stone wall and continues on with a wall on the right to join the end of a track in the corner of a field at NZ642164.

Turn left and follow this track as it heads northeast, passing Airy Hill Farm on the right. The track slowly becomes better quality as it heads on, passing under some power lines and then houses on the left. The track ends at a road junction in Skelton Green after 1.4 miles at NZ656181. Turn right to follow a road north through the village; it passes the Green Inn on the right before ending at a T-junction with Boosbeck Road at NZ656183.

Cross the road and go through a clapper gate to join a surfaced path that runs between fences. The path crosses another path and continues on to another clapper gate. The path squeezes past the end of a hedge and runs downhill between hedges before curving to the right and descending to reach Swilly Lane in Skelton. Turn right down Swilly Lane for a few yards before taking a path that leads off to the left, heading steeply down steps. The path joins a road on the left and follows this for a few yards to reach the High Street at NZ658188.

Carefully cross the road, and on the other side head down Coniston Road. Pass the library on the right and then turn right down Derwent Road. This soon curves to the left and continues downhill. When it ends at a T-junction with Windermere Drive, cross the road and continue on, still following Derwent Road. This curves to the left and then the right; when it ends squeeze through a gap in a hedge to enter some scrubland. The path curves to the left to head north across the scrubland; it passes through a gap in a hedge to enter another field. Cross this to reach Bowland Road.

Cross Bowland Road and head straight on along a gravel path between houses. The path curves to the right to enter woods, following a fence on the right. It passes under a large road bridge carrying the A174 road overhead. On the other side the path opens out into a field on the left; at the end of the field it curves to the left and then the right past a fence to enter woodland. The path heads downhill, initially along a slope and then steps. It curves to the right and follows a river on the left to reach a footbridge over the river at NZ660201, with a railway viaduct high overhead.

Cross the footbridge and follow the path on the other side as it heads under the arches of the viaduct. The path then curves to the left up a track, and then right to enter Saltburn Valley Gardens. When the track forks, take the right-hand branch which heads downhill. When this meets a surfaced road continue straight on up a slight slope. At a little picnic area, turn left up a surfaced path. When this curves to the right, turn left up steps to reach Albion Terrace in Saltburn. Turn right to follow this road north; it soon swings to the right and becomes Glenside. Continue along this road until it ends at a T-junction; here turn right to head straight on. When the road forks, take the right-hand branch that heads down a zigzag to reach the seafront in Saltburn at NZ667216. Care needs taking on the zigzag as the pavements are narrow.


Places of interest


Guisborough is a small market town in Cleveland, inland from the coast and southeast of Middlesborough and the River Tees, nestling on the northern flank of the North York Moors. It expanded massively after the Second World War in conjunction with the expansion of the nearby steel and chemical works. Despite this it sill hold a lively twice-weekly market.

It had no rail station; the Middlesborough and Guisborough railway opened in 1853 and closed in 1964. The town does have regular bus services to many locations, including Middlesborough, Whitby, Scarborough and Redcar.

location UID #342


Skelton is a small town nestled just inland of Saltburn in North Yorkshire. It has shops, pubs, and some accommodation. The town is well-served with by bus services, including destinations such as Middlesborough, Redcar and Whitby.

Nearby is Skelton Castle. The original castle was built in 1140, but within 350 years was ruinous. The ruins were demolished in the late 1700s, and was replaced with the house that is currently on the site.

location UID #343


Saltburn is a welcome relief for anyone walking the coast clockwise, and who has therefore just negotiated the grimy, industrial Tees valley. It’s pleasant sandy beach and pier grant it a genteel air after the metal, oil and pollution of Teeside. This is somewhat of a surprise, as the same industry that caused Middlesborough to become an industrial behemoth also expanded Saltburn from a tiny fishing and smuggling hamlet in the mid-1850s into a town a few decades later.

The rise of Middlesborough and Saltburn was down to the Pease family, who owned the local railway and extensive mineral (mainly ironstone) holdings. One family member was walking the cliffs in 1859 and had a vision of a town and gardens – and hence Saltburn sprang up. "seated on the hillside he had seen, in a sort of prophetic vision, on the edge of the cliff before him, a town arise and the quiet unfrequented glen turned into a lovely garden.” Many Victorian visionaries had such thoughts, and relatively few of their visions amounted to anything. I’m glad Saltburn is amongst the exceptions.

location UID #344

Saltburn Pier

Saltburn Pier is a picture-perfect promenading pier, with few of the sometimes-gaudy attractions that have ruined some other piers. It was completed in 1869 to a 1,500-foot length. Within six years a gale had reduced its length to 1,250 feet. It was struck by a ship in 1924, leaving a gap that was rebuilt. It was sectioned during the war, but unlike some piers it was rebuilt afterwards. Storm damage in 1974 left it at 1,100 feet, after which the council applied to have it demolished. A local campaign led to it being reduced to its current 681 feet.

Hence the pier survived all bar one of the traditional fates of piers: gales, collision, war, and political indifference. The exception is fire, and I can only hope that it never suffers that indignity.

location UID #345

Saltburn cliff lift

When Henry Pease had a vision of a seaside town during a walk in 1859, he chose a fine place with one small problem: the wonderful beach sits 200 feet below the clifftops. There was a road access down to the original tiny settlement of Old Saltburn, but town and beach were – and still are - somewhat separate. This was the problem facing the operators of the 1869-built Saltburn Pier at the base of the cliffs. Initially a hoist was put in place where passengers were lowered in a wooden cage, but in 1884 a more permanent solution was put in place.

The Saltburn cliff lift (or funicular) descends 207 feet down from the cliffs, ending at a superb timbered lower station directly in front of the pier. It is a fairly standard funicular: there are two cars connected by a cable; a tank in the top-most one is filled with water, until its mass exceed that of the the one at the bottom. It therefore descends, pulling the bottom one up. Once at the bottom, the water is released and pumped back to the top, whilst the top one is loaded.

Much of the current cliff lift mechanism is original, although the passenger cars have been replaced.

The pier and cliff lift are both superlative examples of their types, and sit very well together in the landscape.

location UID #346


There is no public transport serving Guisborough Woods. However the centre of the town of Guisborough lies a mile to the north, from where regular bus services run to Middlesborough and Whitby.

Saltburn has a railway station on the Tees Valley Line, fro which run regular services to Middlesborough and Darlington. See the National railway enquiries website for more information.

Saltburn also has regular bus services to various villages and towns in the area, including Redcar and Easington.

For more public transport information, see the Travelline website.

Map information

Landranger (1:50,000)   Outdoor Leisure (1:25,000)
Landranger 94 (Whitby & Esk Dale, Robin Hood's Bay)
Outdoor Leisure 26 (North York Moors - Western Area)

Photos of this leg

Following the trail east through Guisborough Woods.Following the trail east through Guisborough Woods.Following the trail east through Guisborough Woods.The quarry at Slapewath.Following Airy Hill Lane northeastwards.A strange toy on a fencepost.Skelton Beck.The high railway viaduct above Skelton Beck.The high railway viaduct above Skelton Beck.Following the path through the nature reserve towards Saltburn.A Cleveland Way fingerpost in Saltburn.The view along the cliffs east from Saltburn.Saltburn pier.A boat in the beach in Saltburn.The mortuary in Saltburn.

Accommodation information

The Fox Inn
Bow Street
North Yorkshire
TS14 6BP
P: 01287 632958

Grid ref: NZ615160 (54.535505,-1.050691)
The Three Fiddles
32 Westgate
North Yorkshire
TS14 6BA
P: 01287 632417

Grid ref: NZ614160 (54.535263,-1.052966)
Gisborough Hall Hotel
Whitby Lane
North Yorkshire
TS14 6PT
P: 0844 8799149

Grid ref: NZ625163 (54.538482,-1.036041)
The Fox & Hounds
TS14 6PX
P: 01287 632964

Grid ref: NZ642159 (54.533932,-1.008725)
Margrove Park Holidays
TS12 3BZ
P: 01287 653616

Grid ref: NZ653156 (54.531725,-0.991967)

Westerlands Guest House
27 East Parade
TS12 2BJ
P: 01287 650690

Grid ref: NZ656186 (54.558355,-0.987659)
Wharton Arms
133 High Street
TS12 2DY
P: 01287 650618

Grid ref: NZ659189 (54.561211,-0.982874)
The Rose Garden
31Leven Street
TS12 1JY
P: 01287 622947

Grid ref: NZ664212 (54.581261,-0.97481)
Victorian Guest House
1 Oxford Street
TS12 1LG
P: 01287 625237
E: susanandstewart@saltburn-accommodation.c

Grid ref: NZ662211 (54.580432,-0.976673)
Rushpool Hall
Saltburn Lane
North Yorkshire
TS12 1HD
P: 01287 624111

Grid ref: NZ666205 (54.575739,-0.971925)
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