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10/06/2009 Archived Entry: "Saltburn"
Recently we drove across the North York moors to Saltburn. It is many years since we last visited this delightful resort. Happily the autumn Saturday was fine, sunny and warm and when we arrived we had no trouble parking for a very modest fee near the seafront and close to fishing cobles and the splendid beach.
Saltburn has changed greatly since my last visit. I can recall it being somewhat tatty but now it is gleaming with fresh paint, a wonderfully expansive beach that is clean and safe, a pier that has just won the Pier of The Year Award and tourists who appeared to be enjoying the scenery and the freedom to explore.
The old iron girder bridge that spanned the foot of the ravine that houses the Italian gardens in the Glen has gone and we explored the woods and gardens through the courtesy of the miniature railway with its cheerful crew as we followed the route of Skelton Beck to the tearoom hidden among the trees. We did all the usual things one does at the seaside – walked along the beach, paddled in the sea, gazed out from the end of the pier, watching the boats and surfers, had a pub lunch and enjoyed ice creams.
Sadly the small Smugglers Museum was closed due to recent flooding. The small knot of houses close to the beach, known as Old Saltburn, was formerly a noted smuggling area with houses so close to the sea that they were regularly awash at high tide. The Ship Inn, where we lunched, once had a strong reputation as a smugglers’ paradise but no longer. Now it has an impressive wine list!
As the tide was well out, we were able to walk along the beach and marvel at the scale of the forbidding Hunt Cliff, once the site of a Roman signalling station. We saw brave souls tackling the Cleveland Way that begins by winding up those massive cliffs. I daresay that the views from the top are reward enough, but we opted for the cliff lift which rises from the pier up into the town.
Saltburn owes its splendour to a combination of the early railways and local industry. Wealthy businessmen built their houses and hotels on the cliff top and in Victorian times the town had a very high reputation for the quality of its hotels, its pier (dating to 1867) and the beach area. As time went by, it became the playground for industrial Teesside, but today’s Saltburn is literally a breath of fresh air in a very fine setting.