Cleveland Way: Day 7

Saturday 18th September 2021

It was time to complete my journey along the Cleveland Way. For the final time on this trip, I’d pack away my tent and all of my camping gear, to soldier on for a final twelve miles on foot. At Filey, I would reach the end point and could then begin the long journey home.

Through six consecutive nights of camping, I’d broken my own personal record, which was set during the South Downs Way walk in 2019. With this being my seventh straight day of walking, another personal milestone was to be achieved.

Above, you can see the brand-new camping gas canister that I’d purchased out of necessity the night before and, to the right, the one that had run empty. Extra weight and space insight my rucksack for this final day!

I can no longer recall at what time I was ready to leave the campsite but I imagine it was no later than 9am. With only a few hours of walking to follow, I was keen to get to Filey around lunchtime, leaving me with the whole afternoon to negotiate a network of public transport options back to my car in Helmsley.

I retracted my steps along the Tabular Hills Walk path to rejoin the coast near Scalby.

From Scalby Ness and Long Nab, I would descend in to Scarborough for the first time.

It was fairly quiet in the early hours of this Saturday morning. A few dog walks down on the beach. An occasional runner passing along the promenade. Yet everything as clean, up-together and well-maintained as I’d come to expect from these East Yorkshire seaside towns.

I was very keen to get my head down, march on and get some miles behind me. Already, I was looking forward to going home. To reuniting with the friend who had offered so much before I left.

I passed the North Sands as the sun continued to rise. It looked like it was going to be another excellent day to be beside the sea.

Walking towards South Bay and suddenly, this side of the town was much, much busier. “Donuts” and ice cream available to buy every for 100m I walked. People en masse. It wasn’t quite Whitby but still, I was keen to progress and not linger.

It was only the funicular cliffside railway that appeared to be out of action and I’m not sure whether that was related to the pandemic and social distancing concerns or not.

Officially, I lost the Cleveland Way somewhere beyond the South Cliff Gardens and would soon find myself following roads too far, when not lost within the maze of other garden spaces.

I had to rely upon my phone and GPS to get back on track. I hadn’t gone far wrong at all. But I was conscious of the potential for lost or wasted time. Not that it would’ve accounted for much in the grand scheme of my day.

I’d been walking for a good two hours by this point but wasn’t yet halfway. That anxiety was building. The urge and eagerness to finish and get travelling home. I had something to eat on one of the benches before plodding on.

From here, I was certain that I could see Filey and the end point to the trail. It wasn’t so much that I “wanted” to leave and be done with it; I still had a long return journey ahead of me and that desire to no longer be alone.

Clayton Sands ran along beneath me. Another beautiful stretch of pristine Yorkshire sand.

For a few minutes around Lebberston Cliff, we were inundated by a relentless swarm of flying ants. I say “we” because the two walkers ahead of me were also in discomfort. But minutes later and… We were past them. It was more unpleasant that sleeping next to a puddle on a wet and windy night in the woods!

Unexplained objects lingered in the air towards the end of the next cliff. I couldn’t yet see clearly what they were. But I felt confident they were hanging over Filey.

Of course, they were balloons. I’m still unaware of their purpose (other than to congratulate me for finishing the walk…) but I was almost done. Minutes away from Filey! Emotion began to build inside of me. How grateful I was for everything that had kept me going for seven days across a previously unexplored landscape.

And there I was! 109 miles later at the other end of one of the greatest long-distance walks in the UK. I was reluctant to move from the well earned seat as another group emerged for their photo so, I probably featured in that as well.

I felt good for having done it. To have walked all this way and with almost complete self-sufficiency. There had been good times. Some very hard. Physically, I’d walked alone but mentally, there had often been something and someone to keep me going.

From the bus station deeper in Filey, I’d first take a bus back to Scarborough (after hesitating through the first couple) and then, after a good hour’s wait at the next bus stop, I’d be on my way back to Helmsley.

I’d held on to hope of arriving back in Weston-super-Mare in time for a late Saturday evening dinner with my friend… But by the time I returned to my car, it was already beyond 17:00 and I still had a good 4.5 hours ahead of me – not taking in to the fact that there was a closure along the M1 motorway and that I’d need to try and stop for food along the way.

It was close to 23:30 by the time I was home that night. Too late for a long-awaited reunion.

From the end of the Cleveland Way in Filey, the Yorkshire Wolds Way begins. These two do not quite connect to make what could’ve been a spectacular circular route. Maybe one day, I’ll return to walk it. For now, it’s not a priority.

I’ve always known what my next long-distance walk would be. Or might! It means heading further north in to Scotland… Yet even after walking the Cleveland Way, I was feeling as though I’m in need of a break. Questioning WHY I do this. Do I really enjoy it as much as others?

I feel it’s important to note that I was shattered by these point. I’d set off, six days earlier, with 16.5kg on my back. My feet were in pieces. Legs aching and I would soon learn that I’d lost a good half a stone in weight, through constant walking and insufficient nutrition each day.

But yeah, I’ll probably do it all again – elsewhere – in 2022!

Length of this walk = 12 miles

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'.

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