The North York Moors has trails to thrill outdoor fans, particularly around the little peak of Roseberry Topping
There’s no mistaking the distinctive profile of Roseberry Topping, a hill in the North York Moors that compensates for its lowly altitude with a dramatic outline. A combination of erosion and a collapsed mine have secured it the nickname “mini Matterhorn”, and the views from the top are stupendous.
To the south and west the rugged moorland of the Cleveland Hills stretches to the horizon. To the east, the North Sea appears beyond Redcar and Saltburn, and to the north, err, lies the industrial sprawl of Middlesbrough.
itself is a highlight of the Cleveland Way National Trail, and paths and bridleways fan out from this rocky outcrop for walkers, fell runners and mountain bikers to enjoy. Barely 4kms away to the south is the striking obelisk dedicated to Captain Cook, the first European to reach Australia, who spent his childhood exploring the slopes and summit of Roseberry Topping.
Mountain bike here
A bridleway crosses the summit of Roseberry Topping and there are great loops right across the moors, mixing single-track with a few stony sections. The hill can be busy at weekends with walkers, but there are plenty of fine trails to enjoy even if you don’t make it to the top.
Road cycle here
Fleets of riders pedalling through Great Ayton (or stopping for an ice cream or coffee at Suggitts on the high street), indicate the quality of road cycling in the foothills of Roseberry Topping. Quiet roads criss-cross the North York Moors National Park, and if you can climb the 33% gradient of Rosedale Chimney without putting down your feet you’re a better cyclist than us!
It’s just one of the tough ascents that features in the Stockton Sportive Le Tour de Moor, which packs 3,361m/ 11,027ft of climbing into its 170.3km/105.8 miles route (velo29events.com).
It’s a short, but very steep climb up the flanks of Roseberry Topping, and it can be very breezy at the top, but it’s worth lingering a moment or two to soak up the fabulous 360-degree panorama. A loop between Great Ayton, Captain Cook’s Monument and Roseberry Topping makes a fabulous 6.5-mile circuit for fell runners, with its mix of woodland and moorland.
If that sounds a little modest for your taste, the Hardmoors 26.2 Roseberry Topping Trail Marathon offers 10km, half marathon and full 26.2-mile routes in a sell-out event every December (262.hardmoors110.org.uk)
The Cleveland Way National Trail deserves to be the best known long distance path in Britain. Where other trails offer just one landscape, the Cleveland Way mixes heather moorland with stunning coastline on its 110-mile march from Helmsley in the North York Moors to Filey on the North Sea coast, passing by Whitby and Scarborough on its way.
There are spellbinding views from Sutton Bank, amazing birdlife in the spring, and both bluebells and heather add a dash of colour when they are in flower.
More information, nationaltrail.co.uk/cleveland-way
Ordnance Survey Explorer OL26 North York Moors Western area covers the region around Roseberry Topping.
Plan your visit
Bargain shut-eye at Kildale Camping Barn, not far from Roseberry Topping, where fees are just £10.00 per person per night or £120 for the entire barn (it sleeps up to 12), kildalebarn.co.uk. The nearest youth hostel is at Osmotherly.
For a B&B, try Susie D’s in Great Ayton, where a single room costs £35pppn and a double room £60, susieds.com. And don’t forget to buy an ice cream at Suggitts.