The Cleveland Way is one of England’s oldest National Trails, having been first established in 1969 as a designated walking route. The walk takes in a diversity of landscapes from the heather covered hills of the North York Moors National Park to the stunning coastline between Whitby and Scarborough. The Cleveland Way is typically walked in between 6 – 11 days, and we’ve described it here in nine stages.
Starting in Helmsley and finishing in Filey on the North Sea you’ll enjoy the stunning views, quaint villages, and the unique history that the Cleveland Way has to offer. Along the route you’ll find a plethora of accommodation options to suit all budgets and sensibilities.
This post is designed to provide an introduction to the Cleveland Way route though in-depth maps, elevation profiles, stage-by-stage maps, and more!
Let’s get started.
In this Post
- Where is the Cleveland Way?
- Interactive Cleveland Way map
- How long is the Cleveland Way?
- Cleveland Way Elevation Profile
- Which maps should I carry on the Cleveland Way?
- Stage-by-stage maps for the Cleveland Way
- Cleveland Way GPS/GPX
- Apps and offline mapping
Where is the Cleveland Way?
The Cleveland Way carves a horseshoe shaped path around the North York Moors and surrounding coastline in north-central England. Connecting Helmsley in the west to Filey in the east, the route is most commonly walked in a anti-clockwise direction. While there is nothing to stop you from walking in reverse, we think saving the coastal sections for the end makes for a wonderful finish.
Generally speaking you shouldn’t have trouble accessing the Cleveland Way from other parts of England and the UK. The route is well-served by public transportation with most walkers likely to take the train to York before transfering to a local bus to reach either Helmsley or Filey. Other major transportation hubs along the route include Thirsk, Middlesbrough, Scarborough, and Whitby.
Check out the map below to get a general sense of where the Cleveland Way is located.
The walk is commonly completed in nine days walking, although many will prefer to cover the Cleveland Way in 7 or 8 days. We think 9 days provides a nice pace that allows walkers to savor their time in the part of England while still having some excellent days out walking.
Below is the standard 9-day itinerary for the Cleveland Way:
- Stage 1: Helmsley to Sutton Bank
- Stage 2: Sutton Bank to Osmotherley
- Stage 3: Osmotherley to Clay Bank Top
- Stage 4: Clay Bank Top to Kildale
- Stage 5: Kildale to Saltburn-by-the-Sea
- Stage 6: Saltburn-by-the-Sea to Runswick Bay
- Stage 7: Runswick Bay to Robin Hood’s Bay
- Stage 8: Robin Hood’s Bay to Scarborough
- Stage 9: Scarborough to Filey
Check out the Cleveland Way map below for a detailed overview of the walk.
In addition to the standard route described above there are a few popular side trips that we recommend for anyone walking the Cleveland Way. These include the following:
- Stage 1: Detour to the Kilburn White Horse
- Near the top of Sutton Bank, walkers can take a short detour past the Yorkshire Gliding Club grounds to reach this interesting monument in the hillside. Created in 1857, it is reportedly the largest hillside figure in England.
- Stage 5: Trip to the top of Roseberry Topping
- A short, 2-km return trip from the main Cleveland Way will bring walkers to the top of Roseberry Topping, with its tremendous view of the countryside beyond. Thought by many to be the highest point of the walk, you’ll actually have already reached that at the top of Urra Moor!
You can see detailed maps of these side trips in the stage-by-stage map section below.
Interactive Cleveland Way map
The interactive Cleveland Way map below will allow you to zoom in on the various stages as well as view the traditional stops along the route.
How long is the Cleveland Way?
Look around at the various guidebooks, websites, and other sources and you’ll typically see the length of the Cleveland Way given as somewhere around 175-km long. While this is an accurate estimate, we measure (via GPS) the Cleveland Way to be 168.5 kilometers (104.7 miles) from Helmsley to Filey.
While this exact measurement provides little practical value to anyone planning a walk on the Cleveland Way, it is important to have a general understanding the distances involved. The maps below give the approximate distances for each of the nine-stages of the Cleveland Way in both kilometers and miles.
Use these to help understand the challenge each stages poses so you can be sure to plan your own itinerary accordingly.
Do keep in mind that the distances provided here assume no stops, detours, or other wandering off the main path. You will certainly end up walking further than the distances provided in this article as many of the accommodation options are located off the main route.
Add in a few side trips, a stop at the local pub, and a detour to a beautiful beach and you should plan on walking well over the 105 miles we’ve estimated for the Cleveland Way here!
Note that the distances displayed below do not include alternates or variants, and should only be used to get a general sense of the stage lengths.
Cleveland Way Elevation Profile
While not overly challenging, the Cleveland Way still has a significant amount of elevation gain. The entire walk has approximately 2,800 meters or 9,200 feet of elevation gain of the course of its 169 kilometers. Certainly nothing to underestimate!
Most of this elevation gain occurs during the walks first five stages, before the trail reaches the coast. The Cleveland Way’s major climbs include the walk to the top of Sutton Bank on stage 1, Carlton Bank near the top of the Carlton Moor, and of course the Cleveland Way’s high point at Round Hill on Urra Moor.
However, don’t be deceived by the coastal sections of the walk, as there is still significant elevation to be gained/lost here! Be especially prepared for the climb encountered between Robin Hood’s Bay and Scarborough.
The elevation profiles below, displayed in both imperial and metric units, will give you an overview of what each stage of the Cleveland Way entails in terms of total elevation change and distance. Elevation is shown on the left side while distance is shown on the bottom. Each blue dot represents a stop along the traditional 9-stage walk, with the stop name shown at the top.
The steepness of the line between any two points reflects the steepness of the trail for that particular stage. The distance between the two points shows the length of the stage. For instance, you can see that the stage from Runswick Bay to Robin Hood’s Bay is rather long in distance, while the stage from Osmotherley to Clay Bank Top has a lot of elevation gain.
When thinking about how many days or stages you’ll take to complete the Cleveland Way be sure to reference these elevation profiles. They’ll give you a sense of how hard each day is and will let you see which stages may make sense to combine or split up on your walk.
Which maps should I carry on the Cleveland Way?
The Cleveland Way is a well-marked trail, with the iconic acorn symbol used by England’s National Trail system found at major intersections along the route. This helps identify the Cleveland Way from other popular trails in the area, of which there are many.
However, it is still quite easy to get turned around or otherwise off-track on the Cleveland Way due largely to the number of trail junctions encountered. For this reason, we recommend all walkers carry a few Cleveland Way maps to ensure they don’t spend an afternoon walking the wrong direction!
Our preference is generally to rely on GPS maps on our smartphones when out on a multi-day walk, and we can highly recommend this method for most walkers. All you’ll need is a GPX file for the route (available on the National Trails website here) and a GPS app. We like Gaia GPS, although there are many great options available.
In addition to digital navigation methods, we also recommend you bring a paper map or map booklet of the Cleveland Way along on your walk. There is simply no replacement for a physical map, afterall you never know when you may find yourself with a dead battery rendering your GPS app useless!
There are several excellent physical maps available for the Cleveland Way, outlined below:
The Cleveland Way Map Booklet – Cicerone Guides
In our opinion, your best bet will be to pack this excellent resource from Cicerone Guides. Their Cleveland Way map booklet contains Ordnance Survey maps for the entire route, neatly organized into a small and portable booklet.
Cleveland Way Adventure Atlas
Another convenient and highly recommended option is the Cleveland Way Adventure Atlas. This map consists of OS Explorer maps for the entire Cleveland Way route, but saves you the hassle of assembling all of the Ordnance Survey maps yourself. It is also a bit larger and easier to read when compared to the Cicerone Map Booklet, which many walkers will prefer.
Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps
Finally, no article on maps for the Cleveland Way would be complete without referencing Ordnance Survey maps. These detailed maps provide an excellent resource for the walk, although you’ll need to carry three OS maps to cover the entire route:
In addition, a weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either.
Stage-by-stage maps for the Cleveland Way
The Cleveland Way is most commonly walked in nine stages, with a wide variety of accommodation options available at each point along the walk. The stage maps below provide a general outline for each of these nine stages and we’ve also included the distance and elevation change for each day below.
Stage 1: Helmsley to Sutton Bank
Distance: 11.89 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +442 m / -217 m
Stage 2: Sutton Bank to Osmotherley
Distance: 18.9 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +500 m / -621 m
Stage 3: Osmotherley to Clay Bank Top
Distance: 17.6 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +821 m / -720 m
Stage 4: Clay Bank Top to Kildale
Distance: 14.99 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +290 m / -382 m
Stage 5: Kildale to Saltburn-by-the-Sea
Distance: 22.23 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +606 m / -739 m
Stage 6: Saltburn-by-the-Sea to Runswick Bay
Distance: 19.54 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +793 m / -757 m
Stage 7: Runswick Bay to Robin Hood’s Bay
Distance: 25.37 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +983 m / -1,052 m
Stage 8: Robin Hood’s Bay to Scarborough
Distance: 24.19 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +846 m / -853 m
Stage 9: Scarborough to Filey
Distance: 13.78 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +597 m / -556 m
Cleveland Way GPS/GPX
If you are interested in getting access to the GPS data for the Cleveland Way it really couldn’t be easier, as the National Trails website provides a free GPX file. This data includes the short side-trips that we described above, and they also have an excellent interactive map. Check it out below.
You’ll be able to load the GPX file into the mapping software or GPS phone app of your choice!
Apps and offline mapping
As mentioned above we highly recommend utilizing offline downloadable GPS maps on your smartphone to navigate while walking the Cleveland Way. This is a great way to navigate on the trail as it allows you to see your progress for the day and also doesn’t require a cell phone signal (which you may not have) to display the map.
Our How to Navigate on the Tour du Mont Blanc post has all the information you need to get set up using an app for your map. Although written for a different hike, this step-by-step article will teach you how to quickly and easily turn your phone into a GPS device for the Cleveland Way.
Have a great Cleveland Way adventure!
We hope this post has given you all the information you need to get a basic overview of the Cleveland Way. Let us know your questions or comments below. Happy trails!
And don’t forget to check out our handy Cleveland Way Packing List!