Walking in the Loftus area
Loftus Civil Parish is located in the Borough of Redcar & Cleveland, between the North York Moors and the North Sea. This area offers outstanding walking opportunities with a network of footpaths and lanes linking coast to moors. There's much history and heritage to enjoy, including its industrial legacy and exciting archaeological discoveries. The Cleveland Way National Trail is near its midway point here, with cliffs 200 metres above sea level offering stunning views. There are numerous places to park and a regular bus service connects Loftus directly with Middlesbrough, Whitby and local communities. Visitors can enjoy a range of places to stay and the area also has numerous cafes and pubs to provide refreshments.
OS Explorer Map OL27 is recommended as an aid to walking in this district.
Want to be the highest person on the East Coast of England? Take a walk on Boulby Cliffs
Want to live in a Hobbit House? See our accommodation page
Want to visit the site of a 7th Century Anglo Saxon Cemetery? See our self guided walk leaflets.
Want to visit the site of a 12th Century Abbey? Take a look at our walking events.
Learn about our Industrial Heritage at the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum.
Try some hands on rally driving, take a look at our activities page.
Land of Cliffs
"...Cleveland, remote from great thoroughfares..." wrote Walter White in A Month in Yorkshire, first published in 1858 and perhaps one of the most engaging travel books ever written about the county.. However we define where Cleveland starts and ends ( a topic for another article!), it's still the case that this area is relatively distant from major transport links, particularly so with my favourite patch, the cliffs between Skinningrove and Staithes. These six miles of coastline can claim to be the historic centre of Cleveland, for 'Land of Cliffs' is widely accepted as being the original meaning of the name..
In many ways this stretch of coastline remains below the radar of national consciousness despite hosting the highest cliffs on the east coast of England and being on the route of the Cleveland Way National Trail. Other parts of Yorkshire have thier national spokesmen ( think of David Hockney and Alan Bennet for example) but you probably need to have a close interest in painters or folk singers to have heard of Len Tabner or Vin Garbutt who represent the local landscape and culture so acutely. This low profile could be due partly to the fact that the early 1970s it's been in the North Riding of Yorkshire, then Cleveland County and, since 1996, the Borough of Redcar & Cleveland. So the political football that is local government reorganisation has been playing with its identity for some time and this small area seems to be constantly on the edge of everywhere. , Like many places that are now considered "remote" , this part of the north east coast was home to some of our ancestors: excavations at Street House have revealed that the area had been a significant location for settlement, farming and burial for thousands of years from Neolithic to Saxon times. A Roman road probably crossed this locality, linking nearby signal stations at Huntcliff and Goldsborough; a similar route, known as Cleveland Street, may have been a pedestrian way between Gisborough Priory and Whitby Abbey. So, remoteness is relative in all that surrounds us.
When the light allows, these cliffs provide a panorama that's both epic and intimate: you can see the hills of north Northumberland over 70 miles away (another one for the Furthest View contest) and under our feet the heather, gorse and harebells that tell us we're at an outpost of the North York Moors. This part of the coast faces more or less due north so the coastline of County Durham and beyond is often clearlyvisible. The view also extends to above Teesdale on a clear day, a reminder that the growth of Teesside - whose industrial smoke can usually be seen - was due largely to the ironstone mining that prevailed in Cleveland for more than 100 years before the closure of the last mine in 1964..
It's what we can see in the middle distance that confirms we're surrounded by a blend of industrial activity past and present and breathtaking views in all directions. Reminders of 200 years of alum quarrying can be seen below the cliffs while the distinctive spoil heaps from the former Kilton ironstone mine is usually visible several miles away to the south west. Whilst such a sight may not sound romantic this heap is, nevertheless, both a physical and symbolic landmark representing the industrial heritage of this district. Just over the hill to the south east, smoke from the potash and polyhalite mine at Boulby is evidence of current activity, some of it possibly happening below us as we walk along the cliffs.A couple of miles the other way there's Skinningrove steelworks whose output goes back to 1874. Further north west, off the coast near Redcar, there's a wind farm while beyond there are usually vessels making thier way to and from the Tees. Taking in this panorama serves to confirm how everything is interconnected, with clear links between the earth, the people, thier culture and thier environment.
There's probably no better place than this from which to view the best of north east Yorkshire the skyline sweeps from Ravenscar to the North York Moors - with the landmarks of Danby Beacon and Freebrough Hill in sight on a good day - and on to Highcliff above Guisborough then Eston Hills. Out of sight, but so close, hide Skinningrove and Staithes, coastal villages that share much from the past but present themselves so differently now, Skinningrove continues as a former mining community with its rows of terraced houses, while welcoming walkers along the Cleveland Way and visitors to the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum.However,Staithes relies mainly on tourism for its vitality as the number of residents diminishes in the older part of the village.
It becomes clear as we take in what's around and under these cliffs that this is a special place which, while it may be "remote from great thoroughfares", has attracted people from elsewhere for ages, from miners migrating here to foreign companies taking over local industries and, of course,walkers on the Cleveland Wayand other local paths. Moreover, the significance of this area of coastline is recognised through some tracts of land being in the case of the National Trust and of Tees Valley Wildlife Trust; it also lies partly within the North York Moors National Park. If you wish to explore this area OS Explorer Map OL27 is the one for you...and watch where you're walking as the cliffs are precipitous in places.
Remember to practice Alfred Wainwright's advice and stop walking when you want to take in the views!
To Joan, who inspires me to walk and stop and look.