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Staithes to Whitby Coastal Path

Staithes to Whitby Coastal Path


Staithes village which is about ten miles north west of Whitby. There is a car park above the village however this option would need two cars. Without such a luxury, it is best to park in Whitby then catch the bus to Staithes. The bus station is next to the railway station by the harbour.


16 km      About 4 – 5 hours


No peaks as this is essentially an edge walk but there are “ups and downs”.

OL 27, 1:25 000, North Yorks Moors Eastern Area.


The North Yorkshire Coast is dramatic with many cliffs and rocky beaches. Unfortunately, it is eroding rather quickly as the exposed rock is very soft and crumbly. The Cleveland Way runs along much of the coast and this route uses much of it. Navigation is relatively straightforward (keep the sea on your left!!). There are signs much of the way but there are a few places where some are needed. Runswick Bay Beach may not be accessible during a very high tide.


(1) Catch the bus to Staithes. It will drop you off on the main road above Staithes. Walk a little further then take the first road on the right which descends to Staithes village. Walk through the village (right at the bottom of the hill) to reach Church Street which is the last street on the right. Walk up this steep street to pick up the path. A little further take the left fork. This takes one up on to the top of the cliffs. Pass an old stone “shed” then continue on the obvious path until a cluster of houses is reached which is Port Mulgrave. Leave the road soon after and follow the path which, initially, descends slightly. Continue, with uphill stepped section until the path turns inland to go around Runswick Bay where it soon meets a road. When the main road in Runswick is reached take the steep road down to the beach. There are public toilets at the bottom behind the rescue centre/lifeboat station (off to the left).

(2) Follow the beach around the bay past a worn cliff with some caves until an obvious gully/gorge is reached. There does not seem to be a path up it but this is the way. A stream runs down it and it could be awkward, on slippery rocks, after rain but a footpath arrow is soon reached and the way leads to some steps which climb up the left hand side. The steps go on for a long time but eventually emerge on the top of the cliffs and one soon reaches Kettleness which is a large farm and a few houses. Continue on the Cleveland Way towards Sandsend until the top of some steep steps is reached. These need care and it is quite a long descent to reach the track bed of a disused railway. At the bottom, one can look back to the start of a closed tunnel. The going is now much easier on the old track bed and continues almost to Sandsend until a gate blocks the track and one descends left into Sandsend car park where there are seats and toilets.

(3) Cross the “river” and follow the coastal road which is the true course of the Cleveland Way. It turns back to the cliffs just after the golf club and soon looks down on the shore. (It might be possible to reach this point along the shore but it has not been checked and the way may be blocked by cliffs, especially at high tide.) There is a choice of routes now, either low or high. High seems to offer better views. It continues before going behind some houses then becoming a road and passing Whitby Pavilion before reaching the Captain Cook statue which overlooks Whitby harbour. There is an arch made of whale bones nearby and Whitby Abbey is clearly visible across the harbour. From the statue, head inland, above the harbour, by a choice of routes and descend into the town.


(a) This walk took place on 1st February, 2016, during Storm Henry which was gusting severe gale force and offshore – not the best direction with cliffs on that side! If one is contemplating this route in such conditions then consider, very carefully, if it is safe to do so. On this day, the wind would have picked up small children.

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