Roseberry Topping

My rediscovery of the joy of country walking began in earnest with a visit to Roseberry Topping, in the Cleveland Hills, on the very edge of the North York Moors National Park.  At 1,049 feet (320m) it isn't a mountain (a mountain in the UK is over 2,000 feet), but nevertheless it presented something of a challenge to someone like me who has always found walking up an incline something of a struggle.  I therefore decided to test myself.  If I could make it to the top and survive then perhaps it was time to think about tackling bigger hills and, eventually, even a mountain.

Spring seemed to start very late this year and the cold weather lasted well into May.  The day we drove out to the village of Great Ayton to start the short walk up Roseberry Topping saw glorious blue skies and sunshine, giving a false sense that Spring may finally have arrived.  We weren't the only ones lured out by the sunshine.  A steady stream of people were making their way up the lane and all along the route to the peak to enjoy the views.  Walking down the lane the sound of a helicopter stopped everyone in their tracks to watch as it circled several times before disappearing over the summit to land on the other side.  Those coming back down from the top told us a young boy had slipped on the wet rocks and had broken his ominous start to the walk and a warning to be cautious.

I can't deny that getting to the top was a bit of a struggle.  Several rest stops were needed and, bearing in mind what had just happened to that poor young boy in the helicopter, I was very careful where I put my feet!  But once up there the view and the sense of achievement were marvellous. was only just over 1,000 feet, but prior to this I had struggled to climb up the steps from Sewerby Beach to the cliff top (about 80 feet). 

We certainly weren't the only ones enjoying the view from the summit.  It was pretty crowded up there, but I did manage to have my photo taken with something of a view in the background and no one else intruding on the scene.  Not the prettiest of views - the town of Middlesbrough - but still impressive on such a lovely clear day.  In the 18th century the nearby village was home to Captain James Cook who by all accounts enjoyed a walk up Roseberry Topping to admire the view.  In 1801 Middlesbrough was just a small farming hamlet with a population of 25, so the view Captain Cook enjoyed would be vastly different to that seen today!

Our route back down was much gentler than the ascent, although I'm actually pleased to have walked up the steepest side.  As we steadily made our way back down we came upon a curious ruin, incongruously nestled at the foot of the hill.  I had no idea what it was at the time, but took a photo anyway (I do so love old ruins!). 

This little building was apparently once a shooting box, built in the 18th century for a Captain Wilson, to shelter members of the local gentry who visited this romantic spot for picnics or for banqueting after a shooting party. 

Once back down to the car park I felt an enormous sense of achievement.  I was a little stiff-legged the next day, but I felt reasonably confident that I could now aspire to climb a greater height.  I began to think in terms of Yorkshire's Three Peaks - Pen y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.  After that, who knows....maybe even a Lake District whopper.  It wasn't impossible.  I'd conquered Roseberry Topping after all.


  1. I love the photos and the historical stories that go with particular places, especially as I know some of these places very well. An inspiration to others too.


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