Jo’s Monday walk : Surprised at Skinningrove

Dedicated to Skinningrove Homing Society

Dedicated to Skinningrove Homing Society

Skinningrove used to be a bit of an ugly duckling.  Situated on the north east coast of England, midway between picturesque Staithes and Saltburn-by-the Sea, it has fierce competition in the beauty stakes.  You have to turn off the coast road to go looking for it, and many would not trouble.  The village is trying to attract it’s share of revenue from tourism and, with the help of a leaflet entitled ‘Skinningrove Valley Trail’, that’s where we’ll be walking today.

Our start point is by the jetty, built in the 1880s to serve the ironworks which is the reason for the village’s existence.  My leaflet describes it as looking forlorn, but funding has been acquired to renovate the jetty.  The process was just beginning at the time of my walk.

A straggle of houses and fishing boats decorate the shoreline.  A fisherman nods ‘good morning’ and carries on painting his tired looking boat, soon to have a new lease of life.  Crossing Skinningrove Beck into the village we come swiftly upon the tribute to the Homing Pigeon Society, which reminds us that using pigeons to carry messages dates back to Ancient Greece and Rome. Locally the birds are known for their heroic activities in World War II.


Across the beck from Stone Row you can see man-made caves, which were carved out to shelter hospital patients when bombing raids took place during the war.  And then the first of my ‘surprises’.  On the bridge, a mosaic which illustrates the story of the village.


A few 'tangoing' poppies, a bench and the tip of an anchor

A few ‘tango-ing’ poppies, a bench and the tip of a rusting anchor

And looking back, the man-made caves

And looking back, the man-made caves

The Square is a designated Conservation Area.  Former Timm’s Coffee House stands importantly on the corner, now converted to a guest house, ‘Moonfleet’, rather sadly.  Part of the building is Grade II listed, having started life in 1704 as Skinningrove Hall. In the 19th century it was developed as a hotel by the Maynard family, who named it Timm’s Coffee House after the coffee houses that were then popular in London.

With an 'unusual' bench, for Jude?

An ‘unusual’ enough bench, for Jude?

Another of my ‘surprises’ coming up next.  I spent many a happy minute exclaiming over the mosaics on the side of Riverside Building. It began life as a school in 1884 and remained so till the late 1990s.  Since then it has become a base for community projects and activities, and is run by a group of volunteers.  I pop back for a cuppa and a gossip with the locals at the end of my walk, but for now let’s just enjoy the mosaics.

This one looks at the floods of 2000

This one illustrates the major floods of 2000

Click on any photo to open the gallery

The building is no work of art, but the efforts of Glynis Johnson and the school children who were involved are delightful.  There are two themes- the floods and the Story of the Merman. Allegedly a ‘sea-man’ was once caught by the local fisherfolk.  He lived on raw fish for a number of days but then managed to escape.  Sometimes, when the sea is calm, a hideous groaning can be heard and the fishermen are afraid to go to sea!

The Story of the Merman

The Story of the Merman

Skinningrove was a mining village, though the evidence is harder to find these days.  The rust red water in the beck vividly testifies to the presence of iron, and the remains of an entrance to the mine can still be seen.  I had intended to visit the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum but was not convinced that I wanted to go underground.  During the war the mine was regularly used for shelter, and a school log book entry for 9th September, 1915 reads “Owing to Zeppelin raid and the children having been in the mines a good part of last night, we have been obliged to close school today”.

I later discovered that the guided tour takes an hour and a half.  At Christmas, Santa delivers his sack of toys along the miner’s track, without any necessity to go below ground.  Maybe I’ll come back then!

One more ‘surprise’ in store.  A mural on Doorstep Green portrays ‘Evolution of Life in the Sea’. It was created by Philippa Threlfall, using materials from Skinningrove beach, and with the help of children from the former Rosecroft School.

Again, click on a photo to see it in detail

The Valley Trail climbs out of the village and across the A174 (a busy road), following the beck into Whitecliff Wood.  Curiosity impelled me to take a look, but you could simply retrace your steps.  Over the road I pass by an animal sanctuary, where the animals appear quite content.  The adjoining house has lupins by the fence and I pause, remembering my mother, who always had roses and lupins in her garden.  The trail soon peters out as the beck flows through a culvert under the railway embankment.

Back in Skinningrove, I find the friendly ‘staff’ in Riverside Building in a lull between customers.  I consume the cheapest toasted teacake and mug of coffee I’ve ever had, while they tell me about life in the village.  Everything is done on a voluntary basis and they pool their expertise. Apparently a little gift shop is set to open up soon.  If you pass that way, drop in and say ‘hi’, and you can pick up a leaflet on this trail.  Here they are, on Facebook.

Heading for home now, but not before I take a look at ‘Repus’- the fishing coble which serves as a memorial to those lost at sea.

The last bench reminds me that this is the midway point along the Cleveland Way, a 110 mile walk between Helmsley and Filey.  Now there’s a challenge!  If you prefer something a little easier, why not drop in on Jude for her Bench challenge?

I’m a little further down the coast today, walking on the cliff tops at Whitby, so I may be late in answering your comments.  I suspect you’ll have plenty to keep you busy in the meantime. Thanks for reading!

walking logo

Once again I’d like to say a huge thank you to those who have contributed to making my Jo’s Monday walk a success.  If you’d like to join in, click on the logo for details.  Time to put the kettle on and settle back for a read.  I think I need some toast, too.


A busy spot, the Gare de L’Est!  Please take your time and watch the video.  Thanks, Drake!

East- entrance to Paris

Hope you had good Canada and Independence Days, all those who celebrate it!

Cee’s Which Way Challenge

Inspirational shots from Amy!  She’s on holiday this week.  Treats in store!

The Antelope Canyon

A lighthouse, and some stunning thrift?  Cornwall, of course!  Many thanks, Jude :

Pendeen Watch

Wild thyme and Lady’s Bedstraw, from Tish, but not very much sleep, unfortunately!

Return to Windmill Hill: Of Grasshopper stalking, Lady’s Bedstraw and other random discoveries 

Meanwhile Pauline is up at the crack of dawn to capture the sunlight on the water :

Early morning walk along the beach

And Ruth has gone to the other extreme.  Both extremely beautiful!

A walk in the moonlight

Thank you for finding time to read these wonderful contributions.  I hope I haven’t ‘wittered on’ too long.  Maybe something shorter next week? (though this trail is only a mile and a half long) Grab some sun, if you can, and I’ll see you then.



    1. It was another of those good surprises I keep turning up around here. I haven’t been away since early June so there’s been plenty of time to look. 🙂

  1. For me, this was a nautical delight what with the mermen mosaic, the beach jetty, and the Repus memorial. I also love the first picture with the statue memorializing the Skinningrove Homing Society.

    1. That’s probably my favourite shot 🙂 I’m just starting to write my walk for tomorrow and trying to convince myself not to go to the seaside again! This village was a lovely surprise. Thank you for your time and energy, Lisa 🙂

  2. Another fascinating walk Jo and sounds like you found it on the off chance. I love the way the community is pitching in together for projects and involving the local school children – the mosaics are charming. It must have been a tough life there during its time as a mining town. The coffee and teacakes sound ideal refreshments after a bracing walk by the sea! Here is my link for your Monday Walk (if you’ve any space this week if not next week!)

    1. When I was a bit younger (and arguably fitter 🙂 ) I’d passed by Skinningrove when walking parts of the Cleveland Way, so I knew of the harbour, but I’d never been into the village, Rosemay. It was a good surprise 🙂 Thanks for spending so much time with me. And the walk 🙂 I do appreciate it.

    1. Hi Jill 🙂 Yes, it’s all about the sea in this part of the world. I’m feeling rather tired right now. Unaccustomed warmth along with the walking 🙂 Many thanks for joining me again.

  3. Wow…..that bench is certainly most unusual. Doesn’t look too comfy though. 😕 The mosaics are so amazing and a real treasure. The Repus memorial and coble are very moving indeed. Thanks again for a fascinating trip.

    1. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need a cushion for most benches, Ad (though I seem to remember that yours came with them included 🙂 ) Glad you enjoyed the walk. I’m always amazed at what I can find out there.

    1. I like that wood sculpture too, Sartenada. Did you notice that it’s echoed in the mosaics on the school wall? I really enjoyed my visit. Thanks for your company 🙂

    1. I’m sorry, Violet. I keep meaning to write shorter posts but there were so many details in this one. I hate to leave any out. Many thanks for your walk. 🙂

  4. What a beautiful walk Jo filled with such creative craft – I love the tile photos and have looked at them many times now. The Repus is a most poignant memorial, very moving. If I’m ever up that way this is one walk I’ll have to complete. Thank you for sharing with us all.

    1. As I said at the outset, Annika, it’s a little rough round the edges and not the kind of place everyone would head for. (I seem to specialise in those 🙂 ) But the mosaics are worth a look from anyone’s point of view and it’s quite a pretty valley. Thanks for your company!

  5. Hi Jo! So glad to be back again, although as you know, I’ve enjoyed reading your posts via your links on FB while off-blog, so I’m not completely out of the loop, even if I haven’t been able to ‘like’ or comment here 🙂 Such fascinating and beautiful murals. I can see why you were so pleasantly surprised during your deligthful walk. Love it when that happens 🙂

    1. Yee-ha! I was just asking Jude if she’s seen you on here, because I don’t make it to FB all that often and my Reader almost never (same old same old! 🙂 ) Lovely to have you back! Does this mean you have a post up, Sherri? I’ve had an exhausting couple of days and am planning some catch up and Wimbledon after I’ve done the pesky ironing! Big hugs 🙂

      1. Ahh Jo…I wanted to get over to you as soon as possible and I see that you’ve already been over to me 🙂 So sorry you’ve had such a tiring time. Hope you’re okay… I’m doing just the same, watching Murray and ironing – taking breaks to catch up here! Crazy isn’t it? More big hugs right back 🙂

    2. The only good thing about the rain delays is you get to watch the other match in the gap 🙂 Ironing done now. Collapse! 🙂 And I need to come back to yours. It doesn’t do it justice to skim read.

    1. Hi Suze! 🙂 I was sort of trespassing to take that bench photo so I didn’t linger too long. The lady of the house has a reputation for not liking intruders. I suppose I might find a history to the bench in Google.

  6. I loved this walk. The story murals are fantastic. I wanted the Dickin Medal to be named after the character in The Secret Garden but the spelling is different. Don’t you think it would still have been appropriate??

  7. I was in Lille once, and there’s a massive statue (Au Pigeon Voyageur) to all the pigeon carriers and handlers who died in the war. Releasing pigeons was illegal in northern France, so their handlers were shot if they were caught.

    On another note, what happened to Nadal? Have you recovered yet?

    1. Interesting titbit of information, Richard. 🙂
      I think I may be of the opinion that Rafa might need an addition to his coaching team. Agassi or Johnny Mac would be awesome.

  8. Those little out of the way places to a person as observant as you can be wonderful.
    You do not need tourist broachers to point things out to you.
    You see and show more than any tourist advertisement.
    It was a pleasure being shown around the Skinningrove area by you.
    Love the first picture and the unusual seat and all the mosaic and the info was interesting and to the point.

  9. I absolutely love those mosaics, Jo. My best friend is an artist and she is often contracted to create mosaics for the small townships in this area. I’m sending her this post 🙂

    Have you ever thought of wearing one of those ‘step counters’ on your walks? I’d love to see how many steps you take in a month (thousands!!) 😀

    I also wouldn’t have wanted to go underground. I don’t like those kind of spaces. I once went to an underground power station way south of here buried in snow. It was interesting but scary and I wouldn’t be jumping at the opportunity to do it again 😉

  10. For not having any expectations, Jo, the rewards were gratifying. The mosaics , memorial tribute and information on the homing pigeons makes this a worthy place to visit. You can see and feel the heart of the community. And of course, lovely poppies doing the tango. Another enjoyable walk and I have enjoyed reading the other walker’s contributions. 😊

  11. another lovely walk with so many beautiful surprises, Jo! glad funding is helping this hidden treasure come alive. lovely flowers! as always, thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. What a fabulous place, total respect for them for making the effort to make their village so lovely. The mosaics are wonderful, and the community spirit is evident in your words and photos. A perfect walk and I think they’re going to give Staithes and Saltburn a run for their money. A brilliant bench too 🙂

    1. I’m glad they’ve found some money to tidy the place up a bit, Gilly. It’s a former colliery village and was a little ‘care worn’, but as you can see the location is good, and the spirit is definitely there. 🙂 Thanks, hon.

    1. It’s a place with a lot of individuality, Indah, and I love that 🙂 It does need some money spending to improve parts and I’m glad that’s happening.

    1. If you compare with some of its more affluent neighbours, Bebs, but it’s trying to catch up. Not too hard though! They’re very independent minded 🙂 Thanks, hon.

    1. Truly! It’s a former mining village and there was precious little money in those. But plenty of grit and determination. And obviously talent, in this case. 🙂 Thanks!

  13. Lots of beautiful things here. The mural on the bridge is amazing and that wonderful view back towards the caves is just the kind of place where I experience my greatest sense of peace, so thank you for another fantastic walk 🙂

  14. So many wonderful things to see! Loved the details you showed in the mosaic and murals. Wonderful flowers too. Hard to imagine working in a hospital and having to take your patients to caves to keep them safe. I am grateful not to have been in a nurse in such extraordinary circumstances.

    1. What they lived through in those wars doesn’t bear thinking about, Sue, but it bred ’em tough! I love the pride in the place and the mosaics were pure delight to me. Thanks for your company 🙂

  15. No, a new place for me too. But it looks enchanting. I love to find villages where they have such a strong community spirit. The mosaics are a delight, and I’d spend hours examining them. Do you know who makes the mosaics? A local potter perhaps? And the Coble memorial is most touching. Thank you for the benches – you guys are finding much more interesting ones than I have! I am going to have to come up your way for a week and you can take me to all these lovely off the road places. Thank you Jo for a delightful walk on this wet day.

    1. We were very lucky down at Whitby. The rain didn’t come in till just before 3, when we were starting for home. Sunny at Wimbledon! 🙂
      I don’t know of a pottery in the village, Jude, but possibly somewhere along this coast. There are all sorts of crafts going on. Remember Staithes craft gallery? I could Google the 2 ladies who are named in the post. Might give me some clues. It was a great little walk, in a village that many would think of as ‘shabby’.

    1. Sounds intriguing, Pauline! 🙂 I’ll be along as soon as I can. Lots of comments this week and I got home late from Whitby.
      It was quite a poor pit village, which is why it’s so ‘under the radar’, but it’s got fighting spirit. 🙂

      1. I think it must be the dogged miners spirit living on Jo. “Good on ’em” Looking forward to seeing and hearing about your Whitby trip.

  16. Well, I know Staithes and Saltburn, but had never heard of Skinningrove. Those murals are just stunning. I’ll come back to read the other fabulous walks later. I’m killing 3 birds with 1 stone with my post today – a quote, a bench and a walk. It’s about the River Earn and Laggan Hill.

    1. Poor birds, Anabel! 🙂 🙂 Having said that, there were a lot of seagulls at Whitby today that I could cheerfully have chucked a stone at. Glad you liked the post and many thanks for yours. I’ll be over soon as I can.

  17. What a fun walk, Jo. I’m glad I came along because I learned something about the pigeons during WWII! I love all the mosaics about the history of the town. I don’t think I would have liked to go underground into the mine either. I remember once we went to Scranton, Pennsylvania where Mike’s grandfather used to work in the mines, and Mike and the boys (they were little then) went down in a kind of open-air train. I stayed above ground, breathing the fresh air. I don’t like feeling damp and claustrophobic. I like that crazy bench, too. 🙂

    1. Hiya Cathy! I was going to say how was your Independence Day weekend? Silly me! You’ll be packing for home soon. Dread to think how many boxes/cases 🙂 🙂
      There were some good surprises in that little village and I was happy to have you strolling along with me. Did I miss cocktail hour again!!! Only one to go! 🙂

      1. Well my “independence day” weekend wasn’t much to speak of, Jo. I’m finishing up my marking in the next two days and then it’s just waiting for my flight next Wednesday morning. Can’t wait! I’m so ready to go home. 😊

      2. Girl, you have more independence than anybody I ever met! But even intrepid travellers get to go home sometimes 🙂 Love you, Cathy!

      3. Thanks for the nice compliment, Jo! I do go back and forth between being a traveler and a homebody. I’m looking forward to being home again. Love you too, Jo!! 💚

  18. It was such a beautiful, picturesque walk, Jo. I liked how painted artwork was incorporated into the pretty gardens, tiles, stone masonry and scenery. Interesting how you mentioned this location of Skinningrove has blossomed from an”ugly duckling.”

    1. It was a colliery village, Robin. Hard work and low wages 😦 But a little money is being spent by the local council to smarten it up. There’s a good community spirit and that’s important. Thanks for your company 🙂

  19. ahhhhhhhh. it’s always great to take a cyber walk with you! the surprises were great and i appreciated seeing the mosaic details and later the beach pebble mosaics… and everyone appreciates colorful flowers. thanks so much; the doctora continues to say, ‘lisa, no walking’ so i’ve cheated a bit by walking thru your shoes! thanks! z

    1. You are excused, lovely lady. You are allowed to cheat 🙂 And I thought the colourful mosaics would appeal to you. Recover well, Lisa! Thanks for joining me. 🙂

  20. What wonderful discoveries in just a mile and a half! I especially love the mosaics and the poppy shots at the beginning. Your post re-anchored me after a slightly disorienting day. Thank you.

      1. My son would envy you! He absolutely wants to keep it wild, for an escape and heart-place. It’s very beautiful, 500 acres with a long river frontage. No return on it though in financial terms. Thank you for hugs.

      2. And he can afford it? If so, no contest. I’m watching that silly ping-pong game you have no patience for and reveling in the gladiatorial aspect. Life can be so simple! Well, so long as you’re a simpleton. 😦

  21. I remember walking to Skinningrove when we stayed in staithes.Looks like it has improved since when i went eight years ago
    NIce surprise indeed.x

  22. I love the mosaics,, the story they tell,, fabulous post again Jo…. ps: I am making note of these places in case we get to that end of the country..

  23. Jo, a lovely walk. Love the school childrens drawings on the buildings. Our small town has done the exact same thing with both primary and secondary schools painting scences on certain landmarks around town. Its such a great idea.

  24. What an interesting little place and so colorful! I love the mosaic and murals and I can even smell those flowers Jo. Stunning shots and a very interesting walk hon. Thanks! 😀 ♥

    1. Hello, Sonel! Lovely to have you here 🙂 I was surprised that there was so much to see in Skinningrove (awful name, but I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover 🙂 ) Many thanks for your company. Cooler weather now, and suiting you better?

      1. Thanks Jo and I love the weather for sure hon. Much better thanks, but as usual I want to hibernate. LOL!

    1. It’s a former pit village, Ann, and they do tend to be very close communities. Not always friendly to outsiders, but the ladies at Riverside were great. Many thanks for all your ‘likes’. The mosaics are brilliant, aren’t they? 🙂

      1. The bridge with the mosaics on is quite near the cave entrance, Ann, but the prospect of scuttling along there in the dark with the air raid sirens going is no fun.

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