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The lane crossing Lonsdale Beck
The lane crossing Lonsdale Beck

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Route No. 346 - Wednesday 9 June 2010
Gribdale Gate, Captain Cooks Monument,
Cleveland Way, Roseberry Topping circuit - 11km
North York Moors . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors Western area at 1:25000


Heading for Captain Cook's Monument through the forest from Gribdale Gate
Heading for Captain Cook's Monument through the forest from Gribdale Gate

Path through the forest from Gribdale Gate
Path through the forest from Gribdale Gate

War time air crash memorial by the path
War time air crash memorial by the path

It happened in February 1940 when they had just taken off from the airfield at Thornaby on Teesside. The crash was probably due to severe icing of the aircraft on that February afternoon. We continued along the Cleveland Way route for another 200m over the misty moor top to the monument itself which we could not see until we were less than 100m from it. This is a large stone obelisk, about 50ft high, on top of Easby Moor. It is a well known land mark and can be seen from many miles away with corresponding views in every direction from the monument, weather permitting (which it wasn't today!). It was built in 1827 by Robert Campion a Whitby banker, just 48 years after Captain Cook was killed in Hawaii.

It was a damp misty morning today as my mate, Jim, and I drove up to the car park at Gribdale Gate, map ref. NZ591110, between Roseberry Topping and Captain Cook's Monument near Great Ayton on the northern edge of the North York Moors. From the car park we set off along the Cleveland Way path through the forest. We were heading south towards Captain Cook's Monument. We climbed up the misty track through the forest for about 800m to the edge of the forest. Next to the path over the moor there is a plaque commemorating the crew of an RAF Lockheed Hudson aircraft that crashed here.

Path to Captain Cook's Monument
Path to Captain Cook's Monument

Captain Cooks Monument through the mist
Captain Cooks Monument through the mist

Path through Coat Moor Forest away from Captain Cook's Monument
Path through Coat Moor Forest away from Captain Cook's Monument

Cleveland Way through Coat Moor Forest
Cleveland Way through Coat Moor Forest

Coat Moor Forest
Coat Moor Forest

After about 1.5km from the monument we came to a minor road where we turned left to walk along the road and left the Cleveland way which turns right at the road.

From the monument we headed west still following the Cleveland way through Coate Moor forest. The thick mist amongst the trees was very atmospheric with a steep bank falling away into the mist on our right.

Path through Coat Moor Forest
Path through Coat Moor Forest

Following the road into Lonsdale
Following the road into Lonsdale

The road into Lonsdale
The road into Lonsdale

Bluebells by the roadside
Bluebells by the roadside

Lonsdale Beck
Lonsdale Beck

It's a pretty spot and from the beck crossing we continued along the road up the far side of the valley for about 150m to a sharp left hand bend in the road where we left the road and took a track straight ahead.

The road led us down into Lonsdale past Lonsdale Farm. A few hundred metres beyond the farm Lonsdale Beck crosses the road on its way down the valley to join the River Leven.

The road across Lonsdale
The road across Lonsdale

Blossom by the beck
Blossom by the beck

Looking back along the road to Lonsdale Farm
Looking back along the road to Lonsdale Farm

Ewes and lambs in a field by the road
Ewes and lambs in a field by the road

Forestry machinery in Lonsdale Plantation
Forestry machinery in Lonsdale Plantation

Approaching the road at top of Lonsdale Plantation
Approaching the road at top of Lonsdale Plantation

This part of Great Ayton Moor is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It's an area of 'Dwarf Shrub Heathland' - a relatively rare habitat.

We followed the track up through Lonsdale Plantation to the end of a public road at the top of the plantation and the start of a track across Great Ayton Moor.

Very muddy track up the edge of Lonsdale Plantation
Very muddy track up the edge of Lonsdale Plantation

Gate on to Great Ayton Moor
Gate on to Great Ayton Moor

Looking back across Lonsdale from the edge of Lonsdale Plantation
Looking back across Lonsdale from the edge of Lonsdale Plantation
Track around the top edge of Hutton Lowcross Wood
Track around the top edge of Hutton Lowcross Wood

The Cleveland Way joined our track from the right
The Cleveland Way joined our track from the right

Cheery riders passing our lunch stop
Cheery riders passing our lunch stop

Gate onto Newton Moor
Gate onto Newton Moor

The track led us around the edge of the forest. We found a sheltered bank here to sit and have some lunch and a couple of horse riders passed by with a cheery greeting about the weather. After our break we continued along the Cleveland Way. In this area the Cleveland Way is paved with sandstone slabs and we followed it steeply down off the edge of Newton Moor.

We followed the track across Great Ayton Moor past an old war time brick pill box and a little further on past an old boundary stone by the path. After about 1.5km across the moor we rejoined the Cleveland Way and about 150m further on we came to the edge of Hutton Lowcross Wood. We entered the forest and then turned left to continue along the Cleveland Way.

Entering Hutton Lowcross Wood
Entering Hutton Lowcross Wood

Flowers on the Scots Pine
Flowers on the Scots Pine

Cleveland Way route marker
Cleveland Way route marker

Joining the track at the corner of Slacks Wood heading for Roseberry Topping
Joining the track at the corner of Slacks Wood heading for Roseberry Topping

Steep descent from Newton Moor
Steep descent from Newton Moor

. . . and then led us up a steep climb to the summit of Roseberry Topping.

The paved path of the Cleveland Way led us down off the edge of Newton Moor . . .

Steep climb up on to Roseberry topping
Steep climb up on to Roseberry topping

Rocky summit of Roseberry Topping
Rocky summit of Roseberry Topping

Trig point on Roseberry Topping
Trig point on Roseberry Topping

However it now seems that there are several geological faults on the hill which were the root cause of the slides and there is a concern now that erosion of topsoil by the many visitors may be allowing more rainwater to enter the fissures and could lead to a further collapse.The hill is just within the North York Moors National Park and it is managed by the National Trust. Today the hill top was shrouded in thick mist so we did not get the reward of the wonderful views from here.

Roseberry Topping started out as a Viking name, 'Odinsberg', meaning Odin's rock. I think Odinsberg became corrupted over the years to Roseberry which meant heathland fort to the Saxons. The 'Topping' bit is Norse and just means hill. The sandstone hilltop is 320m high, a little over 1000 feet and the distinctive shape of the hill was formed when a landslide occurred on the night of 8th to 9th August 1912 and another smaller land slide about 10 years later. There was ironstone and alum mining activity on the slopes of the hill which were thought at the time to have caused the initial land slide.

Taking a break at the top
Taking a break at the top

Steep descent from the top of Roseberry Topping
Steep descent from the top of Roseberry Topping

A coffee stop on the summit of Roseberry Topping
A coffee stop on the summit of Roseberry Topping

Scots Pine in the mist by the path
Scots Pine in the mist by the path

Cleveland Way heading back to the car park
Cleveland Way heading back to the car park

Then we headed southwards for about 1.3km from the corner of the wood to drop down from the moor back to the road at Gribdale Gate and the end of our walk.

From the hill top we followed the Cleveland way down to a col and up again to Newton Moor, where the Cleveland Way forks. We took the left hand fork around the top edge of Slacks Wood.

Cleveland Way climbing back up to Newton Moor
Cleveland Way climbing back up to Newton Moor

The Cleveland Way crosses the road at the car park
The Cleveland Way crosses the road at the car park

The car park at Gribdale Gate at the end of our walk
The car park at Gribdale Gate at the end of our walk

Background Notes:
This is a walk of 11km, 7 miles, from the Forestry Commission car park at Gribdale Gate near Great Ayton on the northern edge of the North York Moors. The weather outlook for Sunday is poor so it may be worth saving the walk until a better day because one of the features of this route is the scenery, the views for miles around from the prominent hill tops. The Gribdale Gate car park is at the point where the Cleveland Way crosses the road. The Cleveland Way starts on Filey Brig and runs around the eastern, northern and western edges of the North York Moors for 176km (109 miles) to Helmsley. From the car park our route follows the Cleveland Way southwards to Captain Cook's Monument. This is a large stone obelisk, about 50ft high, on top of Easby Moor. It is a well known land mark and can be seen from many miles away with corrisponding views in every direction from the monument. It was built in 1827 by Robert Campion a Whitby banker, just 48 years after Captian Cook was killed in Hawaii. From the monument we head west still following the Cleveland way through Coate Moor forest. Then leaving the Cleveland Way we cross a pretty little valley called Lonsdale and climb up through Lonsdale plantation on to Great Ayton Moor. This part of Great Ayton Moor is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It's an area of 'Dwarf Shrub Heathland' - a relatively rare habitat. Next to the path over the moor there is a plaque commemorating the crew of an RAF Lockheed Hudson aircraft that crashed here on take off from the airfield at Thornaby on Teesside in February 1940. The crash was probably due to severe icing of the aircraft on this February afternoon. Just before the moorland track reaches the edge of Hutton Lowcross woods we rejoin the Cleveland Way which we follow down off the edge of Newton Moor and up a steep climb on to the summit of Roseberry Topping. This started out as a Viking name, 'Odinsberg', meaning Odin's rock. I think Odinsberg became corrupted over the years to Roseberry which meant heathland fort to the Saxons. The 'Topping' bit is Norse and just means hill. The sandstone hilltop is 320m high, a little over 1000 feet and the distinctive shape of the hill was formed when a landslide occurred on the night of 8th to 9th August 1912 and another smaller land slide about 10 years later. There was ironstone and alum mining activity on the slopes of the hill which were thought at the time to have caused the initial land slide. However it now seems that there are several geological faults on the hill which were the root cause of the slides and there is a concern now that errosion of topsoil by the many visitors may be allowing more rainwater to enter the fissures and could lead to a further collapse.The hill is just within the North York Moors National Park and it is managed by the National Trust. From the hill top we follow the Cleveland way back to Gribdale Gate and the end of our walk.
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