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Although it may sound like some sort of pink icing, Roseberry Topping, (320m/1049ft), is in fact a distinctive hill in the North York Moors National Park. It's not quite the highest in the area, that particular distinction is taken by the nearby Urra Moor, but despite being relatively short of stature, the steep slopes and sharp peak of Roseberry have earned it the nickname of the Yorkshire Matterhorn. It's official name derives from Viking times when it was known as Odins-Beorge, (Odin's Hill), this gradually transmuted to Osbury, Ouseberry and finally Roseberry, (because the local village was called Newton-Under-Ouseberry the pronunciation of the 'r' in 'under' became the initial letter of the modern name). 'Topping' comes from the Viking 'Toppen' which means 'Peak'. To confuse things further, local songster Chris Rea wrote a song about it called, you guessed it, Chisel Hill.
Apparently at one time the hill resembled a sugarloaf, but one side suffered a major collapse early in the twentieth century and led to it's current shape, I'd like to have seen such a spectacular if scary sight. The collapse was probably connected to local mineworks; alum mining used to extend under the hill, but my attempt to check the facts by googling 'Roseberry Topping' and 'collapse' instead brought up stories involving the Great North air ambulance!
From this you may gather that it's a challenging walk, but I wouldn't say it's particularly difficult, although it shouldn't be underestimated. It's steep in parts and the ground is often muddy. Whilst it is very popular and doable by OAPs and young children, all the usual sensible precautions still apply; sturdy footwear, water, warm clothes, maybe a walking stick, sunblock and sun hat in summer. It can be quite strenous, we had lots of rest stops on our most recent climb and the thought of having a heart attack did cross my mind on the way up, (obviously this just makes reaching the top all the more satisfying)!
~~~The Walk Up~~~
I've visited a couple of times, as it's not too far away from where I live. I was last up there on a sunny(ish) June afternoon with husband, child and picnic. There's a car park at the bottom with toilets which are open from Easter to October. There's also a small kiosk with leaflets and postcards, this was being packed up at around 3 o'clock on the day of our visit. The car park prices were £2.20 for 2 hours or £4 for over 2 hours, (although it is possible to park on the road nearby for free).
There's a well maintained path. Steps have been laid in wood or stone for much of it. Even so, it can be slippy after rain so care needs to be taken. The route goes through Newton woods which are carpeted with bluebells in the right season, if you're lucky you may also spot some Roe Deer.
After you've cleared the trees the North sea comes into view on the left. From here the path gets more rocky. You can choose to take the lower path which circles around to the top or go by the more steep direct route.
Taking the quicker route means that the final section of the climb will almost certainly involve the use of hands and feet as there are some big rocks to scramble up. Once on top there's quite a scary gap between a couple of slabs of rock, I didn't risk the step-jump across here this time, but got down on my knees and hauled myself awkwardly over it instead, (there's no need to humiliate yourself in this manner if you take the easier route).
~~~Top of the Topping~~~
A stunning panorama awaits. There are the patchwork fields of Cleveland to contrast with the chimneys and industrial landscape of Middlesborough, then there is the Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast to the North. The view south to the Yorkshire Dales includes an obelisk - monument to Captain Cook who grew up nearby, this stands on Easby Moor. It's a pleasant walk from Roseberry to this monument.
There's a white marker at the summit with the rocky promontory beyond. There are lots of wide flat rocks, some give a little shelter, it makes a good place for a picnic, a couple of other people had had the same idea and it was like a ramblers tea party at two o' clock on the day we went up, (I think it was a Friday afternoon). Given the northern climate it will almost certainly be windy once you reach the top. I had walked all the way carrying a jacket and sweating, thinking I shouldn't have bothered, but once we sat down for our picnic, we soon all put our jackets on. As is to be expected people have carved their names into the rock up here, but rather than seeming like defacement, it's interesting to read some of the names and dates.
It shouldn't need to be said that small children need to be kept close and held onto at the top and obviously dogs would need to be kept on a lead. It's extremely precarious. The birds are at home up here, it's a good place for birdwatchers, as the moorland birds swoop around the summit. There's a truly dizzying drop over the edge of the promontory, looking down needs to done from a very safe position.
We took the lower path down, this is less steep and rocky and takes in a Victorian folly on the way back to the woods.
The round trip from the car park to the top of the hill and back again, which also involved a picnic and visit to the folly took us almost exactly two hours, but it could probably be done in half that time by most people.
Roseberry Topping is a National Trust site and has been designated an area of outstanding beauty. This sharp rock which juts out from the surrounding green, (or purple depending on the season), is a dramatic sight held in affection by local people. It's well worth the easy enough climb to reach the awe-inspiring 360 degree views from the summit.
To Get There:
The car park is on the A173 between Guisborough and Great Ayton, post code for sat navs: TS9 6QR. Great Ayton train station is 1.5 miles away.