Victorian pier

Jo’s Monday walk : Saltburn in Winter


Some towns work really hard at making the best of what they have.  Saltburn-by-the-Sea, on the North Yorkshire coast, is certainly one of those. The second you step out of the railway station, you are welcomed by a frieze of mosaics, colourfully depicting many of the town’s landmarks.  The towering cliffs of Huntcliff Nab form a constant and beautiful backdrop at the end of the street.


A saunter through majestic Victorian architecture will bring you down to the Valley Gardens.  A miniature steam train, ‘Prince Charles’, chuffs the length of the valley in the summer months.  Then there’s the beach, promenade and cliff lift, all offering their entertainments.  The pier stretches out to embrace the salt spray of the North Sea.  Parasols a-twirling, return to gaze upon Huntcliff Nab.




I love the whimsical nod to days gone by in these mosaics.  It’s an easy enough stroll.  Come with me and I’ll show you how it all looks this winter.

Followers of this blog will be no strangers to Saltburn.  We’ve walked here together before.  I hadn’t really intended to take you there today, but my husband was measuring the garden of a lovely old Grade II listed house, in the town.  With a couple of hours to kill, I wasn’t going to waste an opportunity, now was I?

Let’s start with a look at some of the quirky shop fronts.  Browsing here is seldom dull.  See anything you like?


That’s quite enough of indulgence.  Keep that pie and mash shop in mind for later.  The owner looks very welcoming.  First we need a little bracing air.  It’s not too cold today, evidenced by the numbers on the beach.   The cliff lift stands lonely in silhouette, steps taking us down to the shoreline.



 No yarn bombing on the pier, as yet, but I’m sure that it will arrive in the summer.  Remember Alice, from last year?

The beach stretches off into the distance.  Children stamp and twirl gleefully on the sand.  Dog walkers are out in abundance.  A couple of opportunists sweep the beach in search of treasure.  Their find, multi-coloured pebbles, unwinking, except where caught in a flowing stream.  A life scored deep within their grooves and whorls.  Strands of seaweed, unfurling briny curls.



It’s time to turn and head back beside the crumbling cliffs.  Filigree patterns beneath the pier, and above, a bench to read on or simply watch the ebb and flow of tide.


There’s a lovely corner cafe, beside Cat Nab, just before you reach the brig.   You can watch the stream gushing into Valley Gardens from the outdoor terrace.  It’s a little muddy through there today.  So much rain in recent times!  It’s a steep pull back up to the cliff top, where you’ll be welcomed by the Victorian wicker family.  Some kind soul has knit them poppy buttonholes.


That’s it for another week!  Pie and mash, or did you indulge at the corner cafe?  Time to put the kettle on now, and join my walking friends.

walking logo

Huge thanks, as always, to my contributors, and to those of you who simply like to keep me company.  If you’d like to join in at any time, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo above.


Anabel goes in search of sunshine this week :

Bermuda : Somerset to the Dockyard

Geoff’s in Dulwich, looking at the definition of village :

Village Life

Amy’s found the most beautiful restaurant!

Monday Walk : Ybor City

Funny how some names always conjure up a song.  Any Steely Dan fans out there?

Day 1- Guadalajara

Good to welcome somebody new to the walks, so please head for Scotland and say ‘hi’ to Smidge :

Winter in the Botanics

Jude’s left her plants, temporarily, for a bit of a tongue twister this week :

Scrobbesbyrig/Shrewsbury : a look at stone buildings

Among many other talents, Nicole is an accomplished hiker.  Just take a look!

Best Hikes in Tucson : Bear Canyon’s hike to Seven Falls

Drake is in romantic mood.  Who wouldn’t be, in Venice?

L’atmosphere noire

A head for heights and a sense of humour are what you’ll need on Esther’s walk :

Walk on a Tightrope

Or, if you’re still feeling romantic?

Walk of Love

What might you expect to see in Panama?  Jaspa’s your man!

The Real San Blas Islands

I learnt a little more Welsh today, with Student in Snowdonia.  ‘Yr Aran’ – The Peak :

The Peak

I like the idea of tapestries on my walls.  Maybe I should try life in a castle :

Bunratty Castle- Home of an Irish King

A great selection, aren’t they?  I had intended to close my walks for 2 weeks, but my lovely husband pointed out that we don’t leave for the Algarve until next Monday afternoon.  Plenty of time for another, he said!  It’s not the walking that’s hard.  It’s keeping up with the responses.  We’ll see! Have a wonderful week, meantime.




I’ve been invited to share something with you. (no, not secrets- don’t worry!)  The Works Stores are hosting a competition for travel bloggers who love to read.  Inspired by the film release of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road“, the idea is to post about a memorable read you’ve had whilst travelling.  My good friend, Richard, of A Bit of Culture must be a contender for the prize of a £250 book voucher, with his excellent Trainspotting post.  Nip over and have a read to get you in the right frame of mind.

Meantime, I’d better get on with it.  The closing date for entry is 30th November.  I don’t have a hope of winning, but I do like to entertain.  The book I’ve selected is Freya North’s Secrets.  I can’t pretend that it’s a classic, but it does have a setting which is close to my heart, and funnily enough I was there just the other day, gathering up Autumn leaves.

Huntcliff Nab, from Saltburn beach

Leaving an unhappy life in the south of England, Tess fetches up in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, on the north east coast, in search of a new beginning.  She delights in the panoramic views of Huntcliff Nab, and is just a little taken with her landlord, Joe. I’m a bit of a romantic so I was one hundred percent behind the liaison. Mingled with the story is an exploration of Saltburn and it’s history.   Joe is an engineer who builds bridges, and is passionate about the area.

View from halfway up the cliff, with “Old Saltburn” in the background

Old Saltburn started life as a single row of smugglers cottages down by the shore. In the 1860s Henry Pease, a local industrialist, had a vision for a cliff top town to cater for the wealthy, with formal gardens sweeping down to the sea.  Its crowning glory, the Zetland Hotel, was the world’s first railway hotel. The building still commands wonderful views out to sea, but sadly today the hotel has given way to flats.

Pease’s father was a founder member of the Stockton and Darlington Railway– the first passenger railway in the world- so it’s no surprise that a miniature railway was constructed to run through the Valley Gardens.  It still runs in the Summer time, with its little steam engine, “Prince Charles”.  You can follow the “Sealt Burna”, for which Saltburn was named (a salty stream, coloured brown by alum in the soil) back through the gardens to meet the sea.  It’s a captivating spot.  Beneath the low mound of Cat Nab nestles the corner cafe, Camfords.  Warm purple blankets sit on the chair backs, so you can still enjoy the outdoors, even on a nippy north eastern day.

Tess and Joe explore their relationship within this nurturing backdrop.  I love that Tess plays “Poohsticks” with her daughter under the same bridge that my son sometimes used when small.  And that the Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough has a minor supporting role.

The “Poohsticks” bridge

The most striking features of Saltburn are the Victorian Pier and water-balanced cliff lift, both of which have been photographed and painted numerous times.  “Pier Arts and Crafts”, next to the lift entrance, has many examples.  So too does “Artsbank” in Milton St., a short wander through the faded grandeur of the jewel streets (Diamond, Ruby, Pearl, etc).  This beautifully restored building needs strong legs to climb its many stairs, but you can pull up a chair to watch video footage of the town and its history, and relax in the cafe afterwards.

View of the pier from Pier Arts and Crafts

A peak into one of the rooms in “Artsbank”

I hope I’ve saved the best till last when I tell you that Saltburn lies at the end of the Cleveland Way.  Ascend the steps to some of the most beautiful cliff top walking our coastline can offer.  This is also the point at which I tell you that my memorable read began on a days hiking along the Cleveland Way to the pretty village of Staithes.  I stopped to browse a book display, and there it was.  I fished the book out, started to read and was immediately entranced that I had walked those same streets.

Clifftop walking on the Cleveland Way

Dropping down into Staithes

The village of Staithes, North Yorkshire

Freya North has an obvious fondness for Saltburn, which she describes as “quirky and enchanting” in her notes and photographs at the end of the novel.  I finished the book in next to no time, and always now think of Tess whenever I return to Saltburn.  I won’t spoil it for you by telling you the outcome.  Where would be the “secret” in that?

Looking back along the pier as the sun sets over Saltburn

To enter the competition, as detailed in I now need to nominate 3 bloggers who might like to take part:

Hobby Fabulous is a Canadian living in London and seeking diversion from the hum drum.

Vics Pics and More I hope Vicky won’t mind this nomination.  We have covered much of the same ground in the UK, and at one point even found ourselves in the same place at the same time. (but we didn’t know it!)

Lorna’s Tearoom Delights is an exquisite looking blog I can highly recommend.  I’m on the skinny side but if I’d tried out as many tearooms as Lorna, I’d be huge, but highly satisfied.

All the details about hashtags, etc are in The Works website.  Finally, everyone needs A Bit of Culture in their week, so don’t forget to say “hi” to Richard.  Good luck everybody!