Scarborough To Filey Yorkshire
It’s Thursday 26th April 18 and after a great night’s rest and breakfast at the wonderful Leeway Hotel, Scarborough, it’s time for me and Dave Evans to walk the penultimate leg of our 4 day coastal walk in North Yorkshire. Today we are walking the small section from Scarborough to Filey, before I catch my train home back down South. Dave however is staying up for a few more days to visit friends in Pickering.
Scarborough has had a very troubled past over the years and has long been an important gateway to north-east England. It was reportedly founded around 966 AD as Skarðaborg by Thorgils Skarthi a Viking raider, although there is no archaeological evidence to support these claims and recently this has been questioned. An alternative Anglo-Saxon derivation for the name Scarborough as ‘the hill with the fort’ has been suggested. In the 4th Century there was a Roman signal station here and there is evidence of earlier Stone Age and Bronze age settlements. For many years rival bands of Viking raiders fought over it, namely, Tosti (Tostig Godwinson), Lord of Falsgrave, and Harald III of Norway. Scarborough was also devastated in 1066 when it was attacked by Harald Hardrada, King of Norway who sought to claim the throne of England. His fleet arrived off Scarborough in September 1066 and, when he met stiff local resistance, occupied the headland and bombarded the town below. The settlement may have been completely destroyed as Scarborough disappeared from the historical record for the next century and very little remained to be recorded in the domesday survey of 1085. Hardrada himself was defeated and killed at the Battle Of Stamford Bridge in 1066 by king Harold.In 1318, the Scots burnt the town under Sir James Douglas following the capture of Berwick upon Tweed and the castle changed hands seven times between Royalists and Parliamentarians during the English Civil War of the 1640s, enduring two lengthy and violent sieges, following the civil war, much of the town lay in ruins. During the First World War the town was bombarded by the German warships Derfflinger and Von der Tann. During that short period over 500 shells rained down on the town and castle, an act which shocked the British. So I think it’s fair to say that Scarborians have had their fair share of troubles over the years.
Scarborough is the largest holiday resort on the Yorkshire coast and is dominated by the rocky headland that supports the 11th-century ruins of Scarborough Castle. This same promontory divides the seafront into two bays, north and south, but the south side is the site of the original medieval settlement and harbour. The south side, “Old Town”, remains the main tourist area, with cafés, amusements, arcades, theatres and entertainment facilities. The north side has traditionally been the more peaceful end of the resort.
The colourful harbourside at Scarborough is steeped in history and has been the very heart of the Town, since it has existed. The first harbour built here was financed from the purse of Henry III who made a grant of 40 oaks from his woods to the men of Scarborough in 1225. Later in 1564 Queen Elizabeth granted £500, 100 tons of timber and 6 tons of iron for the harbour to be rebuilt. However it was King George II in 1732 who passed an act to enlarge the harbour by building Vincents Pier and the East Pier at cost of £12,000, the present piers we see today. Later at the beginning of the 19th century the West Pier was added and at this time there were upwards of 300 sailing ships at Scarborough. Scarborough had become one of the principal ship building centres on the East Coast. From 1785 to 1810, 209 ships were built with a tonnage of 35,683 tons. As many as 15 ships were launched in one year. In 1849, a company was formed to provide means for repairing ships at Scarborough and a floating dock was built capable of taking ships up to 300 tons. The Lighthouse built in 1804 is situated on Vincent Pier, the original lighthouse was severely damaged by those German Shells in 1914 and had to be rebuilt, it reopened in 1931. In 1787 there were 1,500 seamen belonging to the port, 500 of whom sailed with the East India Service. Exports included corn, butter, hams, bacon and salt fish and imports: coal, timber, hemp, flax, iron, brandy and wines.
Overlooking the North Sea and high above Marine Drive are the remains of Scarborough Castle, a former Medieval Royal fortress, situated on its rocky promontory. The castle’s founder, William le Gros, Count of Aumâle, created Earl of York by King Stephen in 1138, proceeded to establish himself as the unrivalled political master of the region. His work at Scarborough probably began in the 1130s. Later in the 12th century the chronicler, William of Newburgh, recorded that Aumâle was responsible for enclosing the plateau of the promontory with a wall and erecting a tower at the entrance, on the site of the present great tower or keep. But within a few years of the castle’s foundation Henry II acceded to the throne and demanded the return of all royal castles. Scarborough, which was built on a royal manor, was one of these and Scarborough Castle passed into the hands of the Crown.
It is a popular belief that King Richard III stayed here at Sandside House during the summer of 1484.
The stunning Godfrey Walker memorial horse trough, Sandside, South Bay.
Public horse troughs of the late 19th century were expressions of charitable provision at the time. The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association had been established in London by Samuel Gurney an MP and philanthropist and Edward Thomas Wakefield, a barrister, in 1859 to provide free drinking water. Originally called the Metropolitan Free Drinking Fountain Association it changed its name to include cattle troughs in 1867, to also support animal welfare. In the 19th century ‘cattle’ included horses. The objective of the Association was the provision of clean water for the working classes and for animals. This initiative in London was followed regionally and Scarborough, as a rapidly developing sea-side resort especially frequented by the middle classes and entrepreneurs of industrial West Yorkshire, was no exception in terms of both public drinking fountains and horse troughs.
Business entrepreneur Godfrey Walker and his Wife ran a charitable service that took care of poor children from the slums of Sheffield. This memorial water trough features a trough for horses one side and a fountain for the working classes on the other. It reads “as is good news from a far country, so is water to the thirsty soul” In memory of Godfrey Walker of Conisbrough Yorkshire 1908 ”Drink Thirsty Soul and Thank God.
One of the few surviving former police kiosks in the country, Scarborough’s grade II listed Police Box may not look much like the TARDIS, but it is a genuine Police Telephone Box.
A police box was a British telephone kiosk or call box located in a public place for the use of members of the police or for members of the public to contact the police. Unlike an ordinary call box, its telephone was located behind a hinged door so it could be used from the outside, and the interior of the box was, in effect, a miniature police station for use by police officers to read and fill in reports, take meal breaks and even temporarily hold prisoners until the arrival of transport.
It is one of only three English boxes still standing in their original locations.
As we walk through Scarborough’s South Bay across the sands you can not help but notice, looking inland, the area of Town Hall & St Nicholas Gardens surmounted on one side by the historic Grand Hotel. The Grand Hotel opened in 1867 and towers over the Scarborough seafront. It used to be the largest hotel in Europe and the largest brick built building, with 12 floors and 365 rooms – one for every day of the year. Seven million bricks went into the construction of this impressive building. Later, following renovation work, the room count was reduced to just 280. Interestingly the whole building is designed around the theme of time: four towers to represent the seasons, 12 floors for the months of the year and 52 chimneys symbolise the weeks. The hotel itself is in the shape of a ‘V’ in honour of Queen Victoria and its heyday which was arguably during Victorian times, when wealthy holidaymakers made up the establishment’s clientele. As Scarborough was a famous spa town, the building’s baths originally included an extra pair of taps, so guests could wash in seawater as well as fresh. However it now seems the Grand is starting to show its age and the hotel has suffered a number of health and safety issues in recent years, but I do hope this grade II listed building manages to survive for many years to come. A lot of the historical hotels in Scarborough are reasonably priced and this gives everyone the chance to stay in one of these Victorian gems. What I did find strange though is that planning permission was granted for the red Olympic Leisure building to be built on the promenade right next door to the Grand and in front of the lovely ornamental gardens, it hardly fits in with the area.
A last look back across South Bay before we start the climb back up onto the Cleveland Way path.
After getting caught in a brief shower and walking the busy Filey Road, we eventually find cover down in woods below Osgodby Hill Road in Cayton Bay.
Ahead the beautiful sandy Cayton Bay. Thankfully for us the rain has now stopped and we are covered in glorious sunshine. This section of the foreshore has suffered in recent years due to coastal erosion, leaving Pill boxes once high up on the cliff’s edge, down below on the sandy beach.
I was also interested to read that the Cayton village sent 45 men to the First World War, and 60 to the Second and that there was not a single fatality amongst the combined 105 men. With only one soldier suffering a serious injury during the First World War, then being subsequently spared by a German Officer. Thankfully it seems that Cayton is one lucky village.
Ahead is Lebberston Cliff our last assent before we head across the cliff tops to Filey Brigg, the end point for those walking the Cleveland Way.
As you walk at the top of these cliffs from Cunstone Nab to Filey Brigg, between April and August each year, the cliff’s face teems with the sights and sounds of breeding seabirds in a wildlife spectacle. From this raised elevation you can see 1000’s of guillemots, gannets, razorbills, puffins and kittiwakes riding the waves or heading out to sea in search of food for their chicks. It will be in these waters that the young birds take their first tentative flights. In Winter around these cliffs and Filey Bay you get to see Red-throated and Black-throated Divers, Great Crested Grebe and various sea duck. Velvet Scoter and Great Northern Divers are regular; Red-necked and Slavonian Grebes are also possibilities, the rarer Surf Scoter and King Eider have also been recorded. If you are lucky you may get to see both Grey and Common Seals, which despite their name are not that common; Harbour Porpoises are frequent visitors and in late summer it’s the best time to watch for Minke Whale, Bottled-nosed Dolphin and occasionally Sei Whales which pass this area.
It’s definitely worth taking a walk along these cliffs and around the bay. Further along the coast you also have the bird colonies of Bempton Cliffs and the famous Flamborough Head.
This is Filey Brigg and the end of the Cleveland Way walk. As you walk down onto it, it is a long low headland jutting far out into Filey Bay. The walk along the top affords extensive views across the bay to the great chalk cliffs of Bempton, Flamborough and northwards towards Scarborough and the cliffs of Robin Hoods Bay. For safety reasons a small fence stops anyone from going down to the lower levels at Brigg end.
There was also a Roman signal station excavated here in 1857 by a local Antiquarian, Dr Cortis.
However for me it’s the two legends concerning the formation of the long ridge of rocks known as Filey Brigg that I like. According to one of them it was built by the Devil, who, having lost his hammer in the sea, reached for it with his hand but caught a fish instead. The Devil exclaimed, “Ah! Dick!”, which accounts for the name of the fish – Haddock. Since then Filey Brigg has carried the marks of the Devil’s grasp on its shoulders.
Another legend states that the rocks were the bones of a dragon, which terrorized the area but was outsmarted by the townsfolk, who drowned it when it dived into the sea to wash parkin (a Yorkshire cake) from between its teeth. You have got to love a bit of folklore.
A quick photo of myself just to prove I do exist, with my walking partner Dave at the end of the Cleveland Way. Development of the Cleveland Way began in the 1930s when the Teesside Ramblers’ Association pressed for the creation of a long distance path in the north-east of Yorkshire linking the Hambleton Drove Road, the Cleveland escarpment and footpaths on the Yorkshire coast. Interestingly the Cleveland Way was only the second National Trail to be opened by 1969
Dave on the junction stone for the Cleveland Way, Centenary Way and Yorkshire Wolds Way.
Entering the seaside town of Filey. The bay and beach here is said to be so huge that, no matter how busy it gets, it’s never crowded. This traditional seaside resort, with its sandy beach, historic promenade and gentle pace of life, is the perfect place to end our four day journey along the beautiful Cleveland coast.
Dave standing by the fabulous 12 ft-high steel sculpture of a fisherman, titled ' A High Tide in Short Wellies', sculpture by Ray Lonsdale.
The sculpture makes a powerful statement about the decline of the fishing industry which is summarised by a poem at the sculpture's base;
‘A high tide in short wellies’
That’s it for me, I’ll see you later.
Gonna wrap this catch in protective paper,
Gonna face the sea with a thousand mile stare
And wish that I was floating there
In its summertime.
Down on the pier I saw a man with a board
It read ‘the end is near, accept your lord.
Then underneath this some fisherman wrote.
‘I can see the end from the back of my boat
‘This is wintertime.