The elaborately-laid-out gardens on the steep banks of Skelton Beck are the pride and joy of Saltburn, for they offer a pleasant contrast to the bare slopes on the Huntcliff side and the flat country towards Kirkleatham. But in this seemingly harmless retreat there used to be heard horrible groanings, and I have no evidence to satisfy me that they have altogether ceased. For in this matter-of-fact age such a story would not be listened to, and thus those who hear the sounds may be afraid to speak of them. The groanings were heard, they say, ’when all wyndes are whiste and the sea restes unmoved as a standing poole.’ At times they were so loud as to be heard at least six miles inland, and the fishermen feared to put out to sea, believing that the ocean was ’as a greedy Beaste raginge for Hunger, desyers to be satisfyed with men’s carcases.’ There were also at that time certain rocks towards Huntcliff Nab, left bare at low-tide, where ‘Seales in greate Heardes like Swine’ were to be seen basking in the sun. ‘For their better scuritye,’ says the old writer, ’they put in use a kind of military discipline, warily preparing against a soddaine surprize, for on the outermost Rocke one great Seale or more keepes sentinell, which upon the first inklinge of any danger, giveth the Alarme to the rest by throweing of Stones, or making a noise in the water, when he tumbles down from the Rocke, the rest immediately doe the like, insomuch that yt is very hard to overtake them by cunning.’
In 1842 Redcar was a mere village, though more apparent on the map than Saltburn; but, like its neighbour, it has grown into a great watering-place, having developed two piers, a long esplanade other features, which I am glad to leave to those for whom they were made, and betake myself to the more romantic spots so plentiful in this broad county.
THE COAST FROM WHITBY TO SCARBOROUGH
Although it is only six miles as the crow flies from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay, the exertion required to walk there along the top of the cliffs is equal to quite double that distance, for there are so many gullies to be climbed into and crawled out of that the measured distance is considerably increased. It is well to remember this, for otherwise the scenery of the last mile or two may not seem as fine as the first stages.