If we go down into the valley beneath us by a road bearing south-west, we shall find ourselves at Beck Hole, where there is a pretty group of stone cottages, backed by some tall firs. The Eller Beck is crossed by a stone bridge close to its confluence with the Mirk Esk. Above the bridge, a footpath among the huge boulders winds its way by the side of the rushing beck to Thomasin Foss, where the little river falls in two or three broad silver bands into a considerable pool. Great masses of overhanging rock, shaded by a leafy roof, shut in the brimming waters.
It is not difficult to find the way from Beck Hole to the Roman camp on the hillside towards Egton Bridge. The Roman road from Cawthorn goes right through it, but beyond this it is not easy to trace, although fragments have been discovered as far as Aislaby, all pointing to Dunsley or Sandsend Bay. Round the shoulder of the hill we come down again to the deeply-wooded valley of the Esk. No river can be seen, but when we enter the shade of the trees the sound of many waters fills the air. What was once a thick green roof is now thin and yellow, and under our feet is a yielding carpet of soft brown and orange leaves. Rare and luxuriant mosses grow at the foot of the trees, on dead wood, and on the damp stones, and everywhere the rich woodland scent of decay meets the nostrils. In the midst of all these evidences of rampant natural conditions we come to Glaisdale End, where a graceful stone bridge of a single arch stands over the rushing stream. The initials of the builder and the date appear on the eastern side of what is now known as the Beggar’s Bridge. It was formerly called Firris Bridge, after the builder, but the popular interest in the story of its origin seems to have killed the old name. If you ask anyone in Whitby to mention some of the sights of the neighbourhood, he will probably head his list with the Beggar’s Bridge, but why this is so I cannot imagine. The woods are very beautiful, but this is a country full of the loveliest dales, and the presence of this single-arched bridge does not seem sufficient to have attracted so much popularity. I can only attribute it to the love interest associated with the beggar. He was, we may imagine, the Alderman Thomas Firris who, as a penniless youth, came to bid farewell to his betrothed, who lived somewhere on the opposite side of the river. Finding the stream impassable, he is said to have determined that if he came back from his travels as a rich man he would put up a bridge on the spot he had been prevented from crossing. It is not a very remarkable story, even if it be true, but it has given the bridge a fame scarcely proportionate to its merits.
THE COAST FROM WHITBY TO REDCAR