Today we learn that six weeks away has taken its toll on my fitness but when you’ve friends like these you fit back in as if you’ve never been away.
We meet in the car park below Captain Cook’s Monument full of beans and enthusiasm for the walk. It’s windy and very cold and there are remnants of white hoar frost that has burned some of the young buds that are just making their appearance following an unseasonal balmy spell.
The banter is immediate as abuse and humour are shared in equal measure and the responses vary between masterful wit and, where that isn’t forthcoming, a stream of rude words usually associated with sex and travel. In fairness, it’s usually the intellectual wit but having a fall back in the armoury is always worthwhile. I feel like I haven’t been away such is the warmth of the group and we’ll need that today because the wind is cutting and without proper clothing, which we have, it would chill to the bone.
Another double check and we’re off up the steps on to Great Ayton Moor. The steps are testing and we stop a couple of times but that enables us to appreciate the wonderful scenery which has the potential to be grey and subdued but that’s offset by beautiful yellow splashes of vivid yellow as the gorse explodes into bloom. Every season has its delights and spring is very definitely yellow in a big way. In England we have oceans of waving yellow daffodils, carpets of aconites, and seas of dandelions; for a red/green colour blind person what’s not to like?
We take a final break as we reach the top of the steps and I notice the fence is shining where pilgrims like ourselves have pulled themselves up the last step and then, with folded arms across the chest, lent on the top rail. The wood is darkened and completely without roughness, not even a risk of a spell; however, the grain is exposed and is beautiful. There is natural beauty all around and taking a break gives time to observe with a quiet brain not being bombarded with distractions.
There’s a break in the conversation too as we each return to normal breathing and heart rates subside. Once recovered we make our way across the moor and within a few minutes have our objective in view. Roseberry cannot be mistaken, not even from this strange angle and as it appears over the drystone wall and gorse the cloud clears and the top is bathed in its warming light. It’s as if a super-trooper has been switched on to expose the star of the show and it’s entirely appropriate. We all notice this together and there’s a minor stampede to the edge of the moor to make some photos whilst the magic lasts.
Memories captured, we set off apace and comments are made as the scene changes and the cloud disperses to reveal perfect blues skies that frame the mini-Matahorn in 3D. The fascinating scene changes as we walk over the moor and the sun and cloud dapple the lower reaches of the hill, it makes it come alive as the shadows being cast by the clouds drift silently around the base like ghosts.
We pause at the top of Newton Moor and make a few photos of the team next to the signpost that’s busily pointing the way for three or four different tracks that intersect at this point.
The cloud continues to clear as we descend the track into the valley between Newton Moor and Roseberry. We meet Bill Manktelow who’s in the middle of one of the sectors of the Cleveland Way. We spend some time with him as he tells us of his intention to complete the walk and he’s setting quite a brisk pace. We mention our walk around the Cleveland Way last year and offer encouragement before taking our leave. Buen Camino Bill!
At the bottom, the track up Roseberry looks intimidating but we’ve done it many time before and now there are fewer stops. At the top, there are a couple of groups of youngsters who’re 10 years-old-ish with teachers who look stressed. I’d most certainly be stressed as one of them goes against his supervisor’s wishes to get close to the cliff edge to fly a paper aeroplane off the top. There’s quite a loud barked order for him to move away from the edge followed by a well-deserved bollocking and the whole thing is sorted. I’d call it a well-managed incident and now he’s back with the group.
We’re having photographs taken leaning on the trig point which has been nicely painted with a cartoon character sheep complete with rucksack, stick and hat, I rather like it and it makes me smile.
The views from up here are wonderful. On a clear day the Pennines stand out but today they’re blurred with a haze, a kind of Claude Monet impression of the Vale of Mowbray but the sun is getting stronger and some of it will clear before we’re back, it’s a getting better sort of day!
There’s a call from a gentleman who’s been sitting on the rocks looking out towards the Vale and he’s asking us if we’d like him to take a photograph so that we’d all be in it and we accept. Neil Cook is a remarkable man who broke his back a couple of years ago and is recovering from the subsequent operation. He’s taken some two and a half hours to reach the top (we took about twenty minutes) because he had to keep stopping to control the pain. He’s very proud that he’s achieved his dream and we’re pleased for him. Then he tells us his route and it’s just about the hardest! I tell him about a rather less demanding route back and he accepts. There are no ‘easy’ routes up here, they’re all challenging but worth it. Well done Neil, you’re a star, we all hope things go well for you in the future.
After half an hour we head back down the way we came; however, the clouds are now well dispersed and the view over Newton Moor to our front and the windmill farm off Redcar in the distance to our left is completely clear.
We stop about half-way up the moor track and take a few minutes for some food. The huge rocks and attitude of the ridge are such that we get the combined benefit of little wind and lots of sunshine so we’re cosy as we eat.
Another twenty minutes and we’re off with a spring in the step. We reach the top with ease. At the signpost, we bear left and begin a long loop around the moor always with the North Sea to our left and rocky crags in the distance.
As we turn back inland again the sun is in our eyes and I’m squinting. It’s not comfortable walking into a low sun and it lasts for about a mile before we turn right again to drop through the half harvested Lonsdale Wood adjacent to Nab End and pass through Oak Tree Farm. We’re on a tarmac road now and although it’s a good mile or two back to the cars the time passes quickly especially with knitted figures and bears hiding in the hedge, we see the whole of life on these walks!
It’s not far short of 6 miles (10km) and challenging in the first half then easy.
Thank you, George Renwick, Dave Rider, George Preston, Peter Hymer and Chris Richardson another lovely day out.
Enjoy the snaps…G..x
Feel free to share or like for others to see.
Commercial use needs written permission.