Planning the Cleveland Way

Having now booked a week off work, it’s pretty much official that I’ll be walking the Cleveland Way National Trail in June 2020.

In this post, I’ll be looking at my plans and daily itinerary for tackling the trail. With three months to go and this being a part of the country I’ve not previously explored, a lot could change between now and then!

(Revised: 12/03/2020)

In case you’re unaware, the Cleveland Way is a 109-mile long National Trail that largely circuits the North York Moors. It will be my longest mutli-day trail to date, after completing the 100-mile long South Downs Way last summer. My current plan remains to finish this one in only six days, as I did in 2019.

I’ll be carrying all of my camping kit and backpacking my way along, as I did again on the SDW and also for most of The Ridgeway in 2018. I will try to plan opportunities for snack stops and refuelling, so that I’m not carrying quite as much of a load as last year.

Day 1: Helmsley to Osmotherly (22 miles)
Day 1: Helmsley to Wethercote Farm (14 miles)

On first glance now, that’s a staggering distance to face on the first day and with my rucksack at its heaviest. Looking briefly at campsites using the interactive map at National Trail Breaks, there is an option to walk only 12-13 miles and rest at a campsite close to Baltby Forest… Which would then mean either extending the next day or adding to my week.

Campsite: Wethercote Farm (Price: to be enquired)

My current plan would be to drive up in the early hours (approximately four hours of travel) and leave my car somewhere. Alternatively, I’ll rent a parking space for a few days. I did briefly look at trains but, from Weston-super-Mare, felt it was too indirect and would demand more hours.

Perhaps I should consider the shorter route… Travelling up and easing my way in to the trail. Regardless, we’ll continue with the current plan.

Day 2: Osmotherly to Kildale (20 miles)
Day 2: Wethercote Farm to Lordstones(17.25 miles)

Whatever distance I decide to cover on Day One, I feel I’d be better prepared for a twenty-miler on the second day of my walk. Glancing at the route (and without having research the area), I don’t see any potential refuelling points that would be very close to the trail… I am prepared to carry up to three days worth of snacks, if required, at any one time.

Campsite: Lordstones Campsite (£22.50!!)

Day 3: Kildale to Hinderwell (26 miles)
Day 3: Lordstones to Margove Park? (19 miles)

Alright. While I am physically capable of walking such a distance at the best of times, I do not feel I should be doing that with a heavy rucksack on my shoulders. This definitely requires a rethink! I feel I was too eager to reach the coastal path when I quickly plotted this.

Campsite: Margove Park (Not sure if they accept tents)

Alternatively, there’s a campsite just outside of Guisborough that could halve the intended day’s distance and give me a moment of respite between the moor and the coast. Definitely worth considering!

Day 4: Hinderwell to Robin Hood’s Bay (18 miles)
Day 4: Margrove Park to Runswick Bay (17.25 miles)

This day is almost certain to be altered, due to all of the above. I really do look forward to the coastal portion of the Cleveland Way – perhaps even more so than Roseberry Topping and the moors.

Campsite: Runswick Bay (£11 – minimum 2 night stay?)

Other campsites are available around Whitby and approximately seven-miles ahead of Robin Hood’s Bay.

Day 5: Robin Hood’s Bay to Scarborough (12.5 miles)
Day 5: Runswick Bay to Robin Hood’s Bay (16 miles)

My final two days are looking incredibly short in contrast to the rest. I’m all for easing my way towards the finish, as I did on the South Downs Way last year – and, bearing in mind that I’ll probably be travelling home straight after. But to have two “very easy” days implies that my current schedule is definitely off somewhere.

Campsite: Hooks House Farm (£9-£11)
Day 6: Scarborough to Filey (11.5 miles)
Day 6: Robin Hood’s Bay to Scarborough? (14.5 miles)

A day in which I will reach the end of the trail. I do like the idea of keeping this one ‘short’. I need to look at public transport links (I’m pretty sure there’s a bus) to get me back to my car in Helmsley.

Campsite: Row Brow Farm??? (Price: £10)

Day 7: Scarborough to Filey (12.5 miles)

Getting Back

Like many trails, the Cleveland Way is linear, if only thirty-odd miles short of forming a complete circuit. This means I’ll need to get back to the start (or my car) before I can head home.

I’ve looked at parking near Filey (the end point) and taking public transport to the start, which would mean it’s all done and dusted on day one… However, I’m planning to arriving on the Sunday when services are typically limited. Taxis could be an option but an hourly long drive can be a bit expensive and sometimes… Awkward, can’t they?

If I was to park in or near Helmsley and finish the walk at Filey, I would have to change buses (something I hate more than taking a bus) in a journey of around two-and-a-half hours… Another thought then, is to park in York. I should be able to take a one-hour bus journey to the start of the trail (Helmsley) and then get the train back to York from the end.

This is my current solution for ‘getting on/off the trail’. Although I’ve yet to research local parking options.

I’ve still got a lot to think over, investigate and revise, then! I know from past experiences on these trails that I’ll be able to find other campsites that aren’t featured on the National Trails map. I am not looking to wild camp at all. I will try to carry no more than one litre of water at any time, with a water filter bottle to use if and when needed (I’m not aware of any water points on this route).

I’m not aware of anything I would desperately need to purchase… I should perhaps revise some of my posts that followed on from the South Downs Way, just to clarify that! I will be in need of some new trail shoes. My Columbia shoes were deteriorating towards the end of 2019 and, being less than eighteen-months old, I was entitled to a full refund (they did well to see me through two long-distance trails and all the rest in between).

As I’ve already mentioned, carrying less food is going to be a necessity, this time. But I do need to factor in the weight of my Thermarest Z-Lite sleeping mat, after too many cold nights last May:

I feel inclined to cut it so that I can stash and carry it more easily. Do I cut it in to a 6ft and 4ft section, as Haze Outdoors has done?… Or, do I cut it in to two 3ft sections and stuff both in to the side mesh pockets of my rucksack?… Otherwise, the 6ft can hopefully going inside, while the 4ft section lives on the outside and can double up as a sit mat.

Thanks for reading.

Author: Olly Parry-Jones

I live in Weston-super-Mare, close to the Mendip Hills in Somerset and I enjoy time spent outdoors, whether that's walking, camping or backpacking. My day job involved making furniture from recycled wood (I'm a furniture maker and carpenter by trade). I have two blogs: Olly Writes (woodworking, DIY, baking) Walks With Olly (walking, camping and kit) You can also find me on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. My second YouTube channel is titled 'Walks with Olly'.

2 thoughts on “Planning the Cleveland Way”

  1. I have ideas about completing that trail sometimes too, though it won’t be this year. I’ve already done the coastal stretches on my coast walk and they were lovely so I would like to go and do the inland part too.

    A 4-5 hour drive, followed by a 22 mile walk, wow! If it was me I’d be aiming to do fewer miles on the first day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From what I’ve heard and seen, it’s worth doing. There’s no way I’ll be walking more than 15 miles on the first day! Likewise, I’d like to keep the last day brief as well. I need to factor in a bus ride to the start at some point.

      If I increase my allowance to seven days, I can certainly reduce my daily average of those middle five days to under 20 miles each.

      I’ll review it all again soon.


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