The car park in Newton under Roseberry is always busy with walkers aspiring to scale the 1051 feet of Roseberry Topping. Beyond the Topping, however, the open moors invite further exploration.
Distance: 6 miles
Time: 3 hours
Conditions: well signed moor and field paths; steep drop from Monument
Refreshments: Newton and Great Ayton
OS Explorer Map OL26
Originally published: 22 February 2008
This 6 mile walk follows popular paths and heads for Captain Cook's Monument on Easby Moor, returning through the woods on the lower slopes of the hills and on the edge of Great Ayton. The opportunity of climbing 'Yorkshire's Matterhorn' is kept for the return leg of the route.
From the car park follow the lane which leads towards Roseberry. It has for long been a well used route as the narrow, carefully laid grey-black cobbled surface of local whinstone suggests. For centuries farm animals were driven along it every day for grazing on Roseberry Common, whilst in the 19th century quarrymen, and jet and iron miners would have come this way to their pits on the hillside and beyond.
Go through the gate at the foot of Roseberry and turn left, keeping on the level through the trees. In 100 yards ignore a stile ahead and instead go right up a flight of rough steps. At the top turn left over a stile and continue along a well used, paved hollow way as it climbs the lower slopes across Roseberry Common. On the OS map this is called Brant Gate, (gate being Viking for road or lane), another indication of the antiquity of the route we are following.
Do not be tempted, (at this stage at least), by the steep paths that branch off to the summit, but instead head for the saddle between the Topping on the right, and the lower, rounded outline of its sister, Little Roseberry, on the left. On the saddle you join the Cleveland
Way and should turn left on it, up the slopes of Little Roseberry on a well paved path to a gate in a wall on the edge of a plantation.
Go right here for an easy, level walk along the edge of Great Ayton Moor, keeping a continuous wall on the right. You will soon be rewarded with outstanding views ahead to Captain Cook's Monument and the Cleveland Hills beyond. After a mile the deep cleft of Eskdale opens up on the left, a gash in the expanse of the moorland which stretches to the horizon.
After a mile and a half the path drops down a flight of steep steps to the popular car park at Gribdale Gate. Cross the road and continue along the Cleveland Way as it climbs through woods and on to Easby Moor. Here, on the top, was a most suitable site for the monument to James Cook, erected in in 1827 by Robert Campion as a tribute to one of Britain's greatest explorers and on the 50th anniversary of the start of his third and last voyage. The plaque records his many achievements as well as his untimely murder on Hawaii, (Owhyee), in 1779.
Having enjoyed the expansive panorama of the Cleveland Plain and Hills, and with your back to the plaque, walk the 100 yards or so across the heather to where the land falls away. Turn right along the edge of the moor and you will soon pick up a well trodden path. This enters Ayton Banks Wood and drops precipitously, (slippery if wet), through the trees. At the bottom cross a forest track to a gate where you leave the wood.
The path now keeps close to a fence on the right, making a right angled bend with it after some 50 yards. There are good views of Roseberry from here before you go through a gate into more trees. The right of way now follows a hollow way for some 300 yards to join a tarred track. Follow this to Dikes Lane.
Our way continues ahead on to Aireyholme Lane which climbs in less than half a mile to Aireyholme Farm. It was here in 1736, when James Cook was 8, that his father was appointed bailiff for Thomas Skottowe, lord of the manor of Great Ayton. The cottage where the family lived has disappeared, but some of the buildings date from the 18th century. Aireyholme is still a working farm.
From here the entire south face of Roseberry Topping looms half a mile away. Pass in front of the farm and then go right along a broad track. In about 250 yards the right of way bears left, at a slight angle to the track, to reach a gate. The fields beyond still bear the scars of Roseberry Iron Mine which operated until 1926. In its heyday it employed over 200 men. The extracted ore was transported by a narrow gauge railway across the fields to the left where its course is still visible.
At this point there is a choice of paths. To climb Roseberry turn left, straight up across the field to another gate. Here you join a good path to the summit. It is well worth the effort for the outstanding views. Look out particularly for the gaunt ruin of the east end of the priory church in Guisborough, the ships at sea, heading for the entrance to the Tees, and of course industrial Teesside with a glimpse of the Transporter Bridge.
The popular path down to Newton is of course on this north side too. The descent should take about three quarters of an hour. If you decide not to attempt the summit then continue straight ahead from the gate mentioned three paragraphs above. The path reaches the Cleveland Way in about 400 yards where you rejoin the outward route.