Apprentices don 1960s hiking gear to mark the 50th anniversary of the Cleveland Way: from left, Mathew Craggs, April Wimmer and Archie Lamb. Photo: Charlotte Graham

Apprentices don 1960s hiking gear to mark the 50th anniversary of the Cleveland Way: from left, Mathew Craggs, April Wimmer and Archie Lamb. Photo: Charlotte Graham

A group of national park apprentices stepped out in 1960s gear to mark the 50th anniversary of the Cleveland Way.

They joined more than 150 walkers retracing the steps of early walkers along a three-mile stretch of the national trail in the North York Moors.

The path, which follows a horseshoe route from Helmsley in North Yorkshire to Saltburn before heading south along the Yorkshire coast to Filey Brigg, was first mooted by the Youth Hostels Association in the 1930s, linking the Hambleton Drove Road, the Cleveland escarpment and the coastal footpaths.

Walkers on Friday celebrated the anniversary by striding out along the section known as the Pilgrim’s Walk, from YHA Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey.

The North York Moors national park apprentices were kitted out in 1960s walking gear, including plus-fours, thick socks and carrying bulky canvas rucksacks – a world away from today’s lightweight hiking equipment.

From 1953 when the National Parks Commission and local authorities first proposed the creation of a route to the North Riding County Council it took a further 16 years before the Cleveland Way came into existence.

Walkers celebrate the Cleveland Way's 50th: front, from left, James Black chief executive of YHA England and Wales; trail manager Malcolm Hodgson and Colin Speakman who attended the original launch of the Cleveland Way. Photo: Charlotte Graham

Walkers celebrate the Cleveland Way's 50th: front, from left, James Black chief executive of YHA England and Wales; trail manager Malcolm Hodgson and Colin Speakman who attended the original launch of the Cleveland Way. Photo: Charlotte Graham

Now the national trail is managed through the Cleveland Way Partnership by the North York Moors National Park Authority and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.

Malcolm Hodgson, Cleveland Way trail manager, said: “The success of the trail over the years has been due to the hard work of our volunteers and bodies such as Natural England, the National Park, YHA, English Heritage and National Trust in helping to preserve the route and the qualities that make it so special for thousands of people each year.”

Part of the route was incorporated by Natural England, the Westminster Government’s advisory body on the outdoors, into the evolving England Coast Path.

A restoration programme was carried out on the Cleveland Way in the 1990s to deal with serious erosion that occurred because of the route’s popularity. Part of the trail has also had to be rolled back by about 20m due to coastal erosion.

Natural England interim chief executive Marian Spain said: “Cleveland Way takes walkers on a journey through some of the most stunning and diverse landscapes in Britain, from picture-postcard villages to big-sky moorland and dramatic coastline.

“Three years ago Natural England opened an additional 50-mile stretch of the England Coast Path from Saltburn to Filey, much of it following the existing Cleveland Way and so we’re proud to be back today celebrating the trail’s 50th anniversary.

Apprentices set out from Helmslely Castle. Photo: Charlotte Graham

Apprentices set out from Helmslely Castle. Photo: Charlotte Graham

“National Trails are the jewels in the rights of way crown and Cleveland Way is a perfect example of how these routes can help people of all ages and places enjoy the great outdoors.”

James Blake, YHA (England and Wales) chief executive, added: “YHA has long been an advocate of access to the countryside. This was the case when we first mooted the idea of the Cleveland Way and remains so today.

“As a leading youth charity we remain as committed now as we were in 1969 to ensure the Cleveland Way is accessible to the people who need it the most: young people and their families.”

More events to mark the anniversary are planned throughout the summer. Details are on the North York Moors national park website.

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Film-makers invited to mark Cleveland Way’s 50th year with new official video
  2. Pull on your boots and hit the trail to celebrate the Pennine Way’s 50th anniversary
  3. National park will celebrate its own diamond jubilee this year
  4. Cockermouth rescuers mark 50th anniversary of death of members in rockfall
  5. Outdoor fans urged to ‘walk the Pennine Way in a day’ to mark 50th birthday