*Cpt Cook’s to Roseberry Topping*
I arrive at the Golden Lion for our Friday evening meeting over a carefully gauged amount of brown water or in my case I go for a more golden variety in the form of Golden Pippin. Apparently, it’s a ‘light refreshing blond’ and I’ve not been near one in a long time!
There are 7 friends already here so we can consider ourselves quorate and the meeting can go ahead. There is another meeting being conducted between 5 girls at the bar one of whom is delivering a rather racy speech regarding a gentleman with five willies, apparently, his underwear fit him like a glove! So there’s the scene nicely set…
…next agenda item: Where to walk on Thursday? After much discussion the choice is made, we go from Great Ayton to Captain Cooke’s Monument then a jog along the Cleveland Way followed by taking Roseberry Topping from the rear!
Sooo, here I am sitting with Peter in the car park ready for an eight miler starting and ending in Great Ayton.
The forecast has promised a variable day that may include a shower but currently, it’s looking good. We make our way up Station Road and make good progress as we pass the station and cross the bridge over the beautiful Esk Valley railway, note to self, I must travel from Middlesbrough to Whitby sometime.
Immediately after the bridge we turn right on to the public footpath interestingly called ‘Dikes Lane’. We follow Dikes Lane until it rubs gently against another. It’s quite moist here as we turn and follow the ruts that stretch towards the first proper cover of vegetation.
There are wonderful views of the hillside and the early spring sunshine enhances the colours of the trees slowly waking from winter sleep.
The lane ends at a ’T’ junction and we take the right exit and it turns even muddier and the ascent begins. There are beautiful white flowers on either side of the lane, I’m ashamed to say I don’t recognise them and leave it to any reader to post their thoughts below. The trees and bushes form an arch that, at times, join together and produce a tunnel that protects us from the south-westerly that’s blowing up from the vale.
As we emerge from this woody tube we’re instantly courted by gorse that is so yellow that it glows. It’s in competition with a view over the vale that would be an excellent illustration in a children’s book.
The gorse triggers a childhood memory of picking the flowers. We would return home with scratches on our arms and legs with a brown carrier bag full of the yellow blooms to put into the water that was being used to boil our Easter Eggs. The eggs would come out bright yellow! We’d use the same water but wrap the eggs in onion skins and they’d emerge like a 1960’s paisley ’T’ shirt.
There’s significant competition between the wonderful sight of the gorse on our left and the view of the vale to our right. It’s quite clear and the Pennines are picked out blue in the west with the Vale of Mowbray stretching out with patches of green meadow and yellow rape divided by tracks, hedges and fences and punctuated with trees some skeletal and others with early leaves.
We continue to ascend and reach a fork. There’s an arrow on the turn to the left and nothing ahead so we make the choice to go left. The slope of the ascent is increasing and a couple of stops are necessary to catch our breath but also to take pleasure in the view that now stretches behind us.
We turn right along a firebreak and pass a ‘scramble’ that stretches up through the trees in order to find a better route. It becomes obvious that the better route is not going to happen so we return to the ‘scramble’ It looks well used and after the first twenty metres or so there are steps that have evolved from the surface roots of the trees and although the slope is risky and desperately hard going at least it’s not the sort of scramble you’d find in the Lake District or on a mountain. At the top, it is an understatement to say we are breathing heavily!
The Monument is now in our site and only a couple of hundred metres to our right up a minor incline. The views to the right remain fabulous but the clouds are merging into stratus and it looks like we may get some drizzle.
We reach the base of Captain Cooke’s Monument and resolve to dance around it naked as we would have done 40 years ago.
Another group of travellers appear from a direction that looks somewhat easier than the route we had chosen. Our resolution above is quickly forgotten, let’s call it fickle, and we engage in a conversation with our new friends.
“Now then”, says George. Fortunately, there is a Yorkshire woman leading the group who knows what he means. “Now then”, she responds.
George tries to engage some of the other people in the group. “Have you come far?”, he asks.
“Holland”, one of the ladies replies. “What, this morning?”, says George. We move away and hope she hasn’t heard.
George follows up with a brief conversation about the terrain, height of the moors and whether they did much of this in Holland; we move further away…
After a brief spell of photography where – we do them and they do us – we begin the next stage of our trek.
The Cleveland Way is a well-worn track that is partially paved with stones and generally well-drained. We’re walking north away from Captain Cooke and in the general direction of Roseberry which is well defined to our front and left. The descent is gentle and, if you have children, can be used as an easy(er) access route to the Monument. The route that we took is definitely not recommended for kids. There is a small car park at the bottom and the path is well kept and reasonably safe.
We hear our first cuckoo of the year and the sun makes a re-appearance. This part of the walk is a delight. It’s easy and allows for conversation and reflection. The moors are desolate and beautiful in equal measure and we have the fabulous vista of the Vale of Mowbray and the Pennines in the distance.
There’s a dry stone wall to our left and as we approach the gate to make the descent to the base of Roseberry we decide to have lunch.
Mountain Warehouse has made a killing on the little lightweight ‘thingies’ that can be folded up but when unfolded make an absolutely wonderful cushion to sit on. There are only two of us without them and Dave’s generosity is prevailed upon, he’s so benevolent he’s brought four.
We take half an hour for a bite to eat and take the mickey out of each other then our Dutch friends arrive and offer to take more photographs. Nice people these. (and we haven’t even been dancing naked).
At the bottom, Ray makes the decision to walk around the periphery of Roseberry and Bri offers to accompany him. We begin the ascent and whilst it isn’t as arduous as the ascent to Captain Cooke’s, at the end of six and a half miles it is a serious climb.
We take a few photos at the top and then descend the south side and walk along the extremities of the rape fields and through the meadow to a narrow cut where there are archaeologists digging to expose the remains of a building connected to James Cooke’s dad.
The return is through a bluebell wood hopefully populated with English bluebells rather than their Spanish cousins. Not sure which these are but the result is very beautiful.
The going is easy now and reasonably well signposted provided you take a little time to find either the arrows or occasionally a map.
We arrive back at the car park and jettison our packs to take a well earned latte at the Stamps Cafe (Staff excellent, quality excellent – recommended).
About 8 miles, hard in places, elevation between 300ft (100m) and 1000ft (300m) so some significant uphill walking, the views are fabulous, it took us four and a half hours with plenty of stops to take in the scenery and eat. Enjoy