Roseberry Topping & Captain Cooks Monument
Beginning from Great Ayton village green, you'll pass through woods and farmland before climbing the hill to Captain Cooks Monument.
After viewing the monument, you'll join the Cleveland Way over the moor as far as Roseberry Topping, then drop back down through oak woodland to rejoin the footpath to Great Ayton on which you started.
Great Ayton village green, grid ref: NZ562106
From the village green, cross the road to the shops and turn right along the main street. Just around the corner you'll see a metal gate in the wall on the opposite side of the road. Cross and go through the gate.
The Captain Cook Connection
On the village green there's a statue of a young James Cook, destined to become one of the great explorers and navigators of the 18th century. His family moved to Great Ayton from Marton in Middlesbrough when James was young and he attended the village school, now a museum. A monument to Cook's achievements sits on Easby Moor overlooking Great Ayton. This walk will take you there.
Follow the footpath until you reach a railway line. Cross, and continue up the side of the field until you reach Cliff Ridge Wood.
Climb a handful of steps onto the main footpath then continue on the path ahead of you which leads uphill. Go through the kissing gate at the top and turn right. Follow the field edge and cross a stile before dropping down to cross another stile onto Aireyholme Lane.
Aireyholme Farm is where Captain Cooks father worked when the family lived in Great Ayton. James came to work here too. There's no doubt that the temptation to scramble up Roseberry was as enticing as it is today. Looking East from the top he would have seen huge ships transporting coal from the North East to London. Perhaps it inspired his passion for the sea?
Turn right and follow the lane. Go straight over at the crossroads after the bridge. Take a right along a farm track instead of following the bridleway up the hill (shortcut: if you continue on the bridleway you'll rejoin the route at step 9 and cut out about 2 miles (3.2km)).
Continue on the track until you reach Fletchers Farm. There is a farmshop and café here, check ahead for opening www.fletchers-farm.co.uk. Turn left through the farmyard then bear left on the track and follow the footpath. Keep on this track until you see a stile on the left. Cross the stile and follow the field edge to cross the railway line again into another field.
Cross the field then turn left and follow the field edge on a permissive path. Go through the gate and you'll find yourself at some ponds. Turn right and head uphill on the permissive path.
Ayton (Monument) mines
The area around Roseberry Topping had three working ironstone mines in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Ayton mine had an electrified incline which took the ore down to the railway on the permissive path you are walking today. You'll find evidence of the mine workings as you come out of the woodland at the top. Ayton mine was never very profitable, it had issues with drainage, and a low iron content in the ore. However it was worked for 19 years and employed 174 men at its peak. It closed in 1928.
Continue diagonally up through Ayton mine and go through the gate at the top. Turn left and follow the path through a gate. Continue then bear right and follow the path up to the forest. There is a handy bench here to admire the spectacular views of the vale of York and the Cleveland Hills.
Go through the gate into the forest and follow the wall to the left. On reaching the forest track turn right and almost immediately left up a steep hill.
At the top follow the path round to the right and head towards Captain Cooks Monument.
After admiring the view follow the Cleveland Way North away from the monument towards Roseberry Topping. You'll drop down onto a forest track which will lead you to Gribdale car park and picnic area.
Continue across the road and follow the Cleveland Way across the moor. You'll reach a gate in a dry stone wall. Go through and continue on the pitched path downhill approaching Roseberry Topping.
A mining history
As you come downhill you can see remains of Roseberry Ironstone Mine in the fields to the left, and surface jet mining to the right. Aerial views of Roseberry show numerous drifts and hollows resulting from mining activity, some of which may even be prehistoric.
Follow the stone steps up to the top and admire the 360 views encompassing everything from the sea to sprawling housing estates, heavy industry and National park. With your back to where you came from take the path on your left which leads down the side of Roseberry, then bear right following the fence line to a field. Cross the field diagonally and follow the path down to the right of the folly to Newton Wood.
A changed landmark
The Roseberry Ironstone Mine was blamed for a large landslip in 1912, which dramatically changed the profile of Roseberry Topping on its Western side. The landslip was most likely due to a combination of man-made and geological factors. As you leave Roseberry behind, look back to see the full extent of the 1912 landslip compared to the 19th century image.
Turn left along the path in the woods and follow this all the way along, taking a right when the path forks so that you continue downhill. At the bottom go left and follow the path along the bottom of the wood until you meet a stone track.
Turn left along the track then bear left onto the footpath into Cliff Ridge wood when you see the National Trust sign. Follow this path along the bottom edge of the wood until you reach the footpath crossing you passed near the start of the walk. Turn right and follow the same path back into Great Ayton.
Great Ayton village green, grid ref: NZ562106
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