Monthly meanderings #4: Great Ayton to Roseberry Topping and Captain Cook's Monument

Monthly meanderings #4: Great Ayton to Roseberry Topping and Captain Cook's Monument
Photo by Paul Morley / Unsplash

I was chatting this week about walks I would recommend and it got me thinking about memorable walks - those walks that I love and are in my top ten. Some are amazing adventures abroad like the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand. However, others seem much more modest but still hold a very special place in my heart. This walk falls into the latter category.

There are parts of this month's walk that are really significant and familiar and other parts that are completely new (despite being within a few steps many, many times). I suppose that is one of the joys of walking - you can have done a walk many times, take a different turn or go over the hill instead of round it, and it becomes a very different experience.

The Roseberry Topping part of this walk, I have done countless times from being a small child (always from Newton-under-Roseberry). In fact, it was how I spent my first date with my other, faster-walking half. The rest of the walk (despite saying I wanted to do it for years) is completely new to me. The whole walk made for a very enjoyable day and I would really recommend it.

With a full day free and the forecast of rain and low visibility in the Yorkshire Dales, we decided to head North East to the lovely town of Great Ayton. Great Ayton gives you so many different options for a walk but we decided to start here to head to Roseberry Topping (aka the Yorkshire Matterhorn) along the ridge to Captain Cook's Monument and back to Great Ayton - a very satisfying loop of 8ish miles. This is quite a strenuous walk that involves some climbs but is broadly along good, if muddy, paths. As I always say, you walk at your own risk so have a look at a map beforehand, plan your route and make sure you are prepared to do it. That said, the navigation on this walk shouldn't cause you too much trouble.

Rather than give you a detailed route for the walk, this blog post talks more about the experience. If you fancy doing a walk similar to this, the National Trust has a really good and straightforward route (which can be found here). Ours was a little different as you will see below but the points of interest were the same.

Great Ayton

We parked near the river at Great Ayton (Low Green) and there was plenty of free parking in February. It can get busy on a Summer's Day so arriving early can be helpful. Parking here means you get to enjoy a walk through the town to the official start of the walk. Toilets can be found by the Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum and are free to use. There are also a range of refreshment opportunities in Great Ayton. We enjoyed delicious coffee and cakes from the Velveteen Rabbit Luncheon Club, including Gluten Free cake (raspberry coconut slice) for a very happy coeliac - apparently one of the best GF cakes ever!

Anyway, from the shops turn right along the main street. Watch out for a metal gate just around the corner in the wall on the opposite side of the road. You want to go through this kissing gate. What follows is a lovely path that crosses a railway line and reaches Cliff Ridge Woods.

If you climb up the steps and follow the path going upwards, you will reach a gate. It is a very clear path that leads you to Roseberry Topping. You will see it in front of you. NB: The National Trust Route highlighted above does the same route but approaches Captain Cook's Monument first. I prefer to climb straight up Roseberry Topping first. It is a more challenging climb but I like my rewards early in the day - it is up to you which way you approach things.

Roseberry Topping

Once at the base of Roseberry Topping, you can either climb up the front (the steep straighter route or follow the path round the back). We came up the front on this particular day. Enjoy the views from the top.

Views from Roseberry Topping
Views from Roseberry Topping

It was beautiful but breezy up there today and you could see for miles - rural and industrial heritage that makes up this special area. It was so lovely to see so many children, dogs, families speaking different languages enjoying the climb and the views and it definitely gave Superlung a workout. It's no surprise the Yorkshire Matterhorn it is so popular as it is fun and the views you are rewarded with are great!

I recommend walking off the back of Roseberry Topping, down the stone steps. These can be slippery when muddy and wet so take care. You can see in the distance your next point of reference - Captain Cook's Monument.

What follows is a lovely climb from the dip and then easy walking along a heathland ridge. You can always see where you are heading - the Monument. Follow the path down to Gribdale carpark and then head up through the trees to Captain Cook's monument.

The path up to the Monument (looking back over to Gribdale Forest)
Captain Cook's Monument

After enjoying the views from the Monument, we walked to the right of the Monument (following the path away from it) and headed down an extremely steep but very fun woodland path. This leads to a track that passes Fletcher's Farm coffee shop - we had delicious coffee and eggs on toast here. They have an extensive menu and were really lovely and welcoming.

From the end of the track you have a couple of options, turn right and you can either walk down the road back to your start or look out for a footpath sign on the left, cross the fields and come out at Waterfall Park in the centre of Great Ayton (opposite the famous Suggitts ice cream and sweet shop). It is then a short walk back to the car.

Whether you do the National Trust route or our tweaked version, you are sure to have a lovely day walking with plenty of fresh air and views. Let me know what you think in the comments section below. Are you planning a walk or have you done this one?

Happy walking,


Walking hair today!