Skinningrove is a small coastal village which sits at the seaward end of the narrow valley formed by Kilton Beck. It is the meeting place of a network of public footpaths including the Cleveland Way and is on the edge of the North Yorkshire and Cleveland Heritage Coast.
Along the shoreline are fine undisturbed stretches of beach backed by towering cliffs with sand dunes and a rocky wave cut platform criss-crossed with the “rut ways” of historic carting tracks.
Skinningrove occupies a unique place in the history of ironstone mining. It was here on August 7th 1848, that the very first mine in Cleveland was opened, producing ironstone for shipment by sea to Bolckow and Vaughan’s Witton Park ironworks in County Durham.
Once dominated by the steelworks which carried its name, Skinningrove today is a small, friendly community of about 460 people. Apart from the Ironstone Mining Museum, the village is probably now best known for the annual Bonfire held on November 5th. Now celebrating its 30th anniversary each year the bonfire adopts a different theme – the Houses of Parliament, the Vikings, Spiderman and the Merman of Skinningrove to name but a few. Not surprisingly the theme adopted for 2012 will be the Olympic Games
Skinningrove recently launched its own residents’ co-operative shop based at the village’s Riverside Building where local people can sell their home-grown produce and crafts. Products including vegetables, eggs and soft fruit in season, home baking, plus sausages and beef burgers made by a local farmer, are available from 10am to 3.30pm Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
To find out more about the history of Skinningrove and explore its heritage members of the Skinningrove History Group have published a Skinningrove Valley Trail. For those wanting a longer walk the 17 mile Redcar & Cleveland Ironstone Heritage Trail follows public footpaths to link Skinningrove with Eston, site of the largest mine in Cleveland, opened by Bolckow & Vaughan in 1850.
Round & About
Just over 1.5 miles from Skinningrove is Loftus, a former market town with a population of about 7,000 people. Loftus has on offer a range of local shops and pubs, some of which serve food, as well as a Leisure Centre with fitness suite & swimming pool.
Excavations, carried out at Street Houses about a mile from Loftus between 2005 and 2007, revealed dozens of graves and the remains of several buildings. An array of treasure and other artefacts was found, including the jewellery of an Anglo-Saxon princess. Jewellery and other artefacts from the excavation are now on display at the Kirkleatham Old Hall Museum just outside Redcar.
Visitors continuing along the A171 towards Whitby will pass first the Boulby Potash Mine, the only potash mine in the UK and at at 4000 feet the deepest mine in Western Europe, before arriving at Staithes, famous as the village where Captain Cook was apprenticed as a grocer before running away to sea.
The old village of Staithes with its steep narrow streets and quaint fishermen’s cottages is well worth a visit – park at the top of the bank and walk down. The village is also well known in art circles as the home of the Staithes School, a group of artists whose names include that of Dame Laura Knight who made their base here in the second half of the 19th century.
To the west of Skinningrove along the coast is Saltburn by the Sea, first developed as a seaside resort in the 1860s by Quaker entrepreneur Henry Pease. Today much of the town’s Victorian & Edwardian heritage still remains including the impressive Zetland Hotel (now flats) and Railway Station, the Valley Gardens, the pier and the cliff lift – Salburn’s unique water powered inclined tramway.