St Hilda's Way

St Hilda's Way

Trip Highlights

  • The fascinating fishing village of Staithes
  • Quiet walks to calm churches and chapels through woods and moors
  • Egton Bridge, gorgeous leafy village by the Esk
  • Two nights in Whitby, fascinating former whaling town once home to Captain Cook

Trip Summary

St Hilda’s Way is a delightful 69 km / 43 mile long distance trail in North Yorkshire, starting from Hinderwell near Staithes and finishing at Whitby Abbey. The walk through gorgeous Yorkshire countryside is designed as a pilgrimage inspired by 'The Icon of St Hilda' written by Edith Reyntiens and visits eight churches and chapels all dedicated to St Hilda, as well as two other churches named after St Hedda and St Mary. At each location there is a special focus on a different aspect of the Saint’s life, something to find in the church and the opportunity for reflection and meditation. St. Hilda of Whitby (614-680 AD) was born into the royal families of Northumbria, converted to Christianity and baptised in a wooden chapel on the site of what is now York Minster. At 33 she became a nun, founding monasteries including one at Whitby called 'Streoneshalh' and she lived in that area much of her life, evangelising and advising several Kings. She followed the 'Celtic Rule' of the early English Church which developed from the work of the early Irish missionaries. However she was able to listen to accept papal influence, or 'Catholic Rule' for example on deciding on a date for Easter and she was much venerated in this region.

Suitability

The walk is graded as moderate (grade 3) people of reasonable fitness will have no trouble walking this hill and Dale route. It is not too difficult and reaches only 299m at its highest point and days up to 25km / 15.6 miles around 5 hours. Reasonable map navigation however is required as the trail does not have dedicated waymarking.

Itinerary

Staithes is the quintessential Yorkshire seaside village, with rolling breakers at high tide, rockpools at low tide, old fishermens' cottages hanging above Staithes Beck which runs into the sea. There is also a heritage centre, a few shops and a couple of nice pubs on the slope above the bay. It is home to locally built boats and a small fleet of brightly coloured Whitby Cobles, which are used by local fishermen to catch cod, lobsters and crabs and some vessels offer short pleasure cruises. Although born in Marton 25 miles away, between 1744-46 James (Captain) Cook was apprenticed at a small shop in the village, before he moved to a maritime apprenticeship in Whitby. At that time Staithes would have been a very important fishing village, now it is a just a sleepy place with a flourish of summer tourism. Accommodation: We aim to use one of the two old pubs down near the harbour, so that you can gain the full flavour of the place. Small but perfectly formed pubs with coal fires and real ales.

Meals:  Nil

Staithes is about 3km from the official start of the walk at Hinderwell Church and you just need to spend an attractive hour walking along the Cleveland Way from Staithes and turning inland into Port Mulgrave and along to Hinderwell to reach the start point at the church. In the churchyard there is the "Well" supposedly discovered by St. Hilda and an 18th century church. From here descend to cross the ferny Dales Beck and up the steep valley side over into Borrowby Dale. The route then crosses Borrowby and Roxby Moors and along the embankments of Scaling Reservoir with its visitor centre. The walk crosses the Bog House Beck to follow bridleways across open moorland to start the ascent over Brown Rigg up to Danby Beacon (299m). This has a great panorama in reasonable weather into the upper Esk valley and the High Moors around Fryup. Descend into the village of Danby, an optional loop (8 km, but included in the overall distance today) takes you to Danby St. Hildas Church which has parts going back 500 years. It has a Victorian stain glass window of her at the Synod of Whitby debating the dates for Easter. From here it is onto The Moors National Park Centre at Danby Lodge, but if it is too late in the day to visit, you can go tomorrow morning. Accommodation: An attractive 18th century inn providing good bed and breakfast accommodation in Danby. It overlooks the village green and is considered by many to be the most handsome Inn on the North Yorkshire Moors.

Meals:  B

This morning from Danby, after perhaps visiting the National Parks Centre, take the turn-off to the village of Lealholm crossing fields with ancient ridge and furrow markings, woods and along a high farm road on part of the Esk Valley Way. This is a very pretty village and you could visit a tea room here or try the stepping stones across the river. From Lealholm you soon start following the River Esk leaving the river by a ford and climbing up via the hamlet of Thorneywaite, the trail walks through attractive woodland. Below the village of Glaisdale, you descend to the River Esk once again. Here you can visit The Beggar's Bridge, which has a romantic story attached to it from the 1600s. There then follows a pretty section undulating through East Arncliffe Woods and over worn stepping stones. Dropping down into Egton Bridge seems like popping into a woody pastoral world far removed from the high moors of Northern England! The Esk River here is famous for trout and fly fishing, you can get closer to the water by optionally taking the double set of stepping stones crossing by the site of an old mill and then following an optional loop walk (included in the distance today) to visit the cemetery chapel near Egton, the 'new' St Hilda's Church and then St. Heddas Roman Catholic church by Egton Station. The village was the home and preaching area of the Catholic priest Nicholas Postgate who was executed at York 1679, a victim of the Popish Plot. Note that accommodation is hard to secure in Egton Bridge on a Friday or Saturday night so you may need to shorten the walk today and stop in Glaisdale. Accommodation: We use a variety of guesthouses/inn at Egton Bridge or Glaisdale

Meals:  B

This longer walk into Whitby takes you out of Egton Bridge along The Esk Valley Way which toys with the river and bypasses Grosmont where you may want to make a short diversion to visit the shop and see the steam railway. The walk then ascends to pass by the old Grandmontine Priory. Fields and small woods take you to cross The Lady Hilda Beck and the route enters the village of Sleights, Old Norse, sletta for 'flat land.' The walk splits from the Esk Valley and ascends to the village of Sneaton specifically to the lovely St. Hildas Church. Then follow the lane called Monk's Walk which which was a path to Whitby Abbey. Cross the pretty Shawn Riggs Beck over the 'Bridge Stones' and from there follow the River Esk crossing the Esk on a high viaduct and into Whitby. This was once one of the most important ports in England, involved with fishing, whaling, coal export, boat building and vampire legends! Today the town is justly popular for its gothic and 'Steam Punk' festivals. The fish and chips are claimed by some to be the best in the country. Shops sell jewelry made from the famous Whitby Jet, the leaves of fossilized Monkey Puzzle Trees. Accommodation: We use various guesthouses in this busy town.

Meals:  B

Taking the Church Town Trail from the railway station to visit St.Hilda's Roman Catholic Church, St. Hilda's Priory, St. Hilda's Church of England, St. Mary's Church and Whitby Abbey. It is a short walk and you may well have time to do this on day 4. There is quite a lot to see, especially if you are going to make time to walk around the Whitby Abbey site and visitor centre (entrance fee). You can get great views of the structure from the Cleveland Way coastal path. St. Mary's Church is a particular beauty straddling the hillside before the Abbey, linked to the old town by an engaging 199 stone stairway. It has a highly unusual three tiered altar, as well as boxed pews. IF you are not too bothered to visit the churches, just stroll around the old streets and visit the Captain Cook and Whitby Jet Museums. You can in reasonable weather take a boat ride along the coast, or can take a day trip on a steam train to Pickering.

Meals:  B

Depart Whitby for your onward journey

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • 5 breakfasts
  • 5 nights accommodation on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities where available
  • one piece of luggage per person transferred from Inn to Inn, not exceeding 20kg
  • Information pack including route notes & maps (1 pack per room booked)
  • GPX tracks
  • Emergency hotline

What's Not Included

  • Dinners, Lunch and Beverages
  • Entrance fees
  • Travel Insurance
  • Travel to the start and from the end point of the trip
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Unscheduled transfers during the trip

Upcoming Travel Dates

AT A GLANCE

Duration:6 Days
Countries:England
Starting Point:Staithes
Finishing Point:Whitby
Activities:Self-guided walking
Grade:moderate  Click for more information
Trip Code:WSH
Prices From:GBP£680 Per Person
Please do not book any flights or extra arrangements until such time that your booking is confirmed by Sherpa Expeditions by phone or email.