Roseberry Topping and the Cook Monument circular walk

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We were travelling back from Sunderland last Monday and as it was forecast to be a fine sunny day (as it transpired to be!) we’d decided to divert off the A19 and go for a walk in the North York Moors. I’d checked out the National Park website where they have a number of walks and picked one that looked the right sort of length through some varied countryside at the north end of the National Park.

Starting from the village of Great Ayton, it was a circular walk that would take us over two hills, the second of which was topped by a monument to Captain Cook.

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James Cook was born in the nearby village of Marton but in1736,when he was 8, his family moved to Airey Holme farm at Great Ayton, where his father’s employer, Thomas Skottowe, paid for him to attend the local school.

I’d seen the cottage in Great Ayton which was the last home of his parents when I was in Melbourne, in November 2014. It had been dismantled and shipped out to Australia where it was re-erected in Fitzroy Park.

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There’s a family connection with Captain Cook and this area. My wife and, therefore, my children, are descendants of one of his siblings.

So, we parked up in the village, close to the village green and the Tourist Information office. It’s a pleasant little place, especially on a warm, sunny day.

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The old school house has been turned into a museum.

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And, not surprisingly, there’s a statue of the famous explorer

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He was decked out in a fluorescent tabard for the Tour of Yorkshire Cycle race that had passed through the village a few days before on 1 March

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We set out through the village, crossing a field and then the single track railway line that runs to the north.

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Our route took us through woodland, where the bluebells were in bloom.

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A distinctive, strong odour indicated the presence of “stinking Nelly” – wild garlic

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Eventually we got our first view of the distinctive summit of Roseberry Topping, our first hill, which is owned by the National Trust.

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The NT website tells us

At just 1,049 feet (320 m) high, Roseberry Topping may not be the biggest hill you’ll ever see, but it will certainly be one of the most distinctive. Its shape, caused by the combination of a geological fault and a mining collapse in 1912 has made the hill the most beloved landmark in the Tees Valley area. With its half-cone summit and jagged cliff, some say it reminds them of the Matterhorn in Switzerland.

We carried on through the woods

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and then took the steep path up to the summit

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where we were rewarded with fine views over the surrounding countryside.

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It’s said that the young James Cook would climb to the summit, enjoying the opportunity for solitude. But he wouldn’t have had much of that these days, as it’s a popular destination. It was quite busy but, with careful framing and timing, I managed to avoid too many people being in shot when I took my photographs!

It was quite windy up top so we didn’t stay too long and then set off down eastwards along the ridge towards our next destination. A steep descent then another climb up on to the moors

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This is the view looking back towards the east face of Roseberry Topping.

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Our route took us along the Cleveland Way across relatively flat moorland

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and then on to our next destination. The summit of another hill where there’s a monument dedicated to my wife’s relative!

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Looking back to Roseberry Topping, zooming in with my camera.

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There were good views across the North York moors.

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Then we set off down the steep path through the pine woodland.

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At the bottom of the hill there was a good view of Roseberry Topping and the moors  we’d walked across.

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Our route now took us through farmland

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More bluebells

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Looking back towards Cook’s Monument

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We eventually arrived back at Great Ayton where we had just enough time to reward ourselves with a brew before the cafe closed for the day. (Why are cafes so eager to close at 5 o’clock? There were plenty of tourists and locals around who clearly would have liked a brew but were turned away as soon as it struck 4:30. We only just made it)

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It was a good walk through varied countryside – fields, woodland, a couple of hills and wild moorland. It could get quite muddy in places, but recent dry weather meant that other than a few places (especially in shaded woodland) it was relatively dry underfoot.

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