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Kettleness Beach, a Hidden Waterfall and Fossil Hunters’ dream

Kettleness Beach is one of the most northern beaches on the Yorkshire Coast. It is located in a remote cove east of Runswick Bay.

Kettleness Beach is not the most accessible beach to get to! However, if you’re up for a challenge and a little exploring, this area will reward you with natural beauty, a hidden waterfall, and plenty of fossils. The beach is located between Sandsend and Runswick Bay.

Boulder field at Kettleness Beach
Photo © Helen Wilkinson (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Getting to Kettleness Beach

There are several articles online that advise that this beach can be accessed from Kettleness via steps and a rope. We do not advise this. It is too dangerous to attempt for most people.

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Please note; access via Kettleness is not suitable for all. Especially families with children. Access to the beach from Kettleness can be very challenging, involving a scramble down an uneven path while holding onto a rope. As a result, there are better destinations for families than this rocky beach. However, it’s perfect for fossil hunters and those who love to explore. The best way to access this beach is via a walk from Runswick Bay (at low tide), along the beach.

Walk to Kettleness Beach from Runswick Bay

One of the best ways to get here is via the beach from Runswick Bay. It will take about 30-40 minutes and involves walking over slippy, uneven rocks. There is a boulder field to navigate on the way. Take your time when walking along this stretch of beach.

Please note; you must keep a close eye on the tide times when walking along this stretch of coastline. It is easy to get off by rising tides and access is difficult. Give yourself plenty of time to clear headland and keep an eye on weather and tides.

This video, will give you an idea of how to get to Kettleness Beach from Runswick Bay.

Take caution when visiting Kettleness Beach and familiarise yourself with the tide times. The area is known to cut people off due to tidal changes, with the sea reaching the cliff base consistently. Planning your visit accordingly and allowing ample time for your return is essential. Additionally, be mindful of the slippages and potential hazards, particularly in wet conditions, as getting trapped is possible.

Fossil hunting at Kettleness Beach

Kettleness Beach is popular among fossil hunters due to the abundance of fossils found in the area, including ammonites, belemnites, and bivalves. It ranks as one of the best spots along the Yorkshire Coast for fossil hunting; many dinosaur and ammonite discoveries have been found on the foreshore and within the cliff. In addition, scattered around the cliffs are some signs of the region’s industrial past, when alum shale, jet, and iron were extracted from this area. However, take caution when exploring the beach and its cliffs, as they can be unstable and dangerous.

Waterfall at Kettleness Beach
Photo © Helen Wilkinson (cc-by-sa/2.0)

The hidden waterfall at Kettleness

Although Kettleness does not offer any activities or attractions, visitors will discover a stunning waterfall cascading down onto the sand from the rocks above.

Facilities at Kettleness Beach

Kettleness Beach lacks any onsite facilities, but nearby villages provide necessary amenities:

Toilets: The closest restrooms are situated at Runswick Bay or Sandsend. While enroute, visitors can stop by the village pub, The Fox & Hounds Goldsborough, for refreshments and use of the facilities.

Cafés/Restaurants: The nearby village of Goldsborough features one pub, The Fox and Hounds, while Runswick Bay has plenty of pubs.

Shops: There are no local shops available. We suggest bringing your own drinks and snacks or purchasing them from the café in Runswick Bay.

Are dogs allowed?

Kettleness Beach permits dogs to be walked on its shores since it’s not a favoured family destination. The cliff is unstable here, the rocks are slippy and your dog will find it difficult to navigate some of the terrain.

Kettleness in North Yorkshire
Photo © Chris (cc-by-sa/2.0)

The village that fell into the sea

In 1829, the entire village of Kettleness slid into the sea. Fortunately, there was ample warning, and the villagers had been safely evacuated. Today, only a few homes remain atop the cliffs. Formerly known as Kettleness Railway Station, ‘Seeonee Lair‘ now operates as an activity centre under the management of East Cleveland Scout District after being shut down in 1958. Although the station canopy has been removed and the track bed dismantled, the platforms remain.

Kettleness myths and legends

North Yorkshire boasts a captivating history steeped in ancient stories, folklore, myths, and legends. These cherished tales are integral to local culture, passed down from generation to generation. From boggles and giants to lovers’ promises, Kettleness is no different.

Black dog lore of the North York Moors

In his populist book about the exorcist Reverend Donald Omand, Marx Alexander recounts a tale of Omand’s visit to Kettleness, located just north of Lythe Church and the burial ground, in the 1950s. Omand had received a letter from a local schoolmaster who, along with some acquaintances, had been terrified by a black dog emerging from the sea at Kettleness.

Omand accompanied the schoolmaster and reportedly encountered the black dog, which he exorcised with holy water. Unfortunately, the schoolmaster was later hospitalised with mental illness due to these events. Simon Isherwood has observed that Omand had previously visited Kettleness and heard stories from a fisherman about the black dog. Isherwood suggests that Omand also speculated that Stoker might have based Dracula’s black dog incarnation on the Kettleness tales and wondered whether Stoker had visited the area.

The Ghost of Kettleness’ Railway Station

When Kettleness Railway Station was in use and child labour laws didn’t exist, a young boy, around 14 years old, was working as a ticket officer. He was rushing about in the hot sun as his boss shouted orders at him to hurry up. The boy was getting dehydrated and exhausted. However, amid the chaos, the boy failed to realise that his window had not been properly tightened after serving a customer.

While he was handing some change to a customer, the window suddenly slid down so fast that nobody could react quickly enough to stop it. As a result, the boy’s fingers got trapped and were cut off by the window. He cried out in pain as he looked at his two fingers and the change in the hands of the mortified customer. The boy begged to go to the hospital, but his boss refused, bandaged his hand, and forced him to continue working.

As time passed, the boy’s condition worsened. He suffered from gangrene due to the heat and lack of treatment and could not get a doctor’s care because he worked all hours. Unfortunately, he died while still working. Even today, it’s believed that his spirit still walks around looking for his lost fingers. Some say that if you encounter him alone, he may even try to steal your fingers!

Kettleness Beach is truly a hidden gem waiting to be explored. With its stunning beach, pretty waterfall, and abundance of fossils. Despite the challenges in getting to the beach, a trip to Kettleness is an unforgettable experience. Let us know if you have ever visited in the comments.

Header image credit: © Reading Tom (cc-by-sa/2.0)

1 thought on “Kettleness Beach, a Hidden Waterfall and Fossil Hunters’ dream”

  1. I will be staying in Runswick Bay June 26-July 1, and I would like to walk the beach from Runswick Bay to Kettleness Beach. I know this is dangerous. Would there be someone who I could visit with about this, either by email or in person when we arrive?

    Cindy Smith
    Cañon City, Colorado, USA


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