Captain Cook’s Monument Loop

The plan is to walk a circular route from Captain Cook’s car park to a viewing point then skirt back along the Cleveland Way with a glorious sight of Roseberry en-passant (a climb up Roseberry is being planned for another day) and back along the ridge to our start point. In all, about 12km or 7.5 miles. 

An Orienteering Exercise 

We have two options to get to said car park. Number one is Great Ayton then on to the interestingly named, Dykes Lane or number two, a more circuitous route through Kildale then on to Dykes Lane approaching Captain Cook from the rear, ahem, so to speak. Now you don’t often have the opportunity of two innuendoes in one sentence so I’m celebrating but the fun doesn’t last for long.

In Kildale the road is closed for essential work and traffic is diverted along Dykes Lane.
…However… Dykes Lane has been closed and traffic diverted through Kildale!

In computing terms this is referred to as the deadly embrace i.e. process ‘A’ has to wait for process ‘B’ to complete but ‘B’ can’t complete because it is waiting for process ‘A’. However, with a computer, there’s a small chance you’ll get the whole thing working again if you turn it off and turn it on again and hope that the situation will resolve itself. 

WIth Kildale closed and Dykes Lane closed and both expecting the other to handle the traffic and there’s no ‘on/off’ switch then, in the paraphrased words of Jim Lovell, “…Huston, we have a problem!”

After a little bit of coasting around this beautiful countryside the ‘phone bursts into life and Dave ‘talks us in’ like astronauts in a stricken spacecraft. Dave was a milk collection driver and knows more about Yorkshire byways than Alf Wight so his directions take us on a trip through the odd farmyard, winding lanes, a couple of hamlets and the ‘Brucie bonus’ is we discover a new cafe in the middle of nowhere so it’s not wasted and we arrive only a few minutes late at our rendezvous as planned. There’s nothing like an adventure before you start a walk!

Safely distanced!

We repeat the process for another member of the team and within half-an-hour, we’re off. Dykes Lane leads us off to the east in an elaborate loop along the 200 metres (ish) contour of Great Ayton Moor through Oak Tree Farm and onwards to a point where we turn left off the well-maintained lane and onto a serious ‘up’ along the periphery of the Nab End of Lonsdale Plantation.

The last time we walked this route it was in the opposite direction and down. It was also filled with ruts from the heavy forestry machinery that had been harvesting some of the trees; today, it’s very definitely ‘up’ and hard on the lungs but a great walking surface and we get to the summit without hesitation. As a bunch of old farts, we’re quite fit but after several weeks of lockdown, we’re not as fit as we were so there’s a short break as we catch our breath.

We’re turning right here and heading east, south-east towards Percy Cross Rigg.

Percy Cross Rigg

The monument comprises a cross base with the broken remains of the shaft cemented into the socket. It stands on the east side of the road from Percy Cross Farm to the open heathland on Kildale Moor. The road represents the medieval trackway to the upland grazing and the cross is a waymarker for that route. The cross also marks the boundary of the abbey lands of Guisborough Priory and is mentioned in a deed of the 13th century.

Drovers Roads

As we walk these paths we think of the hundreds of years that stock has been driven to markets around the country or simply to higher ground in the summer to enjoy the soft new shoots that would appear in the late spring. It would give the lower grounds a rest and allow other food to be grown whilst the animals were enjoying their sustenance out of the way of the valuable crops below.

We haven’t been walking long when George shouts a command for us to turn left off this well-kept path to one which is maintained more through footfall than material and we set our sights on Sladdale Farm and wind our way along the track to a point, just short of the farm, where we can turn left across the moor.

This part of the walk is only 150 feet rise but it is constant and although it isn’t significant it does mean we’re struggling to maintain a conversation and there’s a short period of relative quiet which enables us to take in the surrounding scenery and the reward is a green plover(variously named lapwing peewit etc). It’s a beautiful bird and we spend some time watching it as it goes into distraction mode. Clearly, it’s encouraging us away from its nest so we comply and begin walking again this time with the wind blowing stronger but carrying with it a significant amount of rain. Our objective now is a small copse of trees that we’ll use for shelter and take the opportunity of a bite to eat.

Highcliff Nab

The trees remain water-resistant whilst we eat and the wind-break effect is very welcome. There’s a cyclist who talks to us without prompting, I mention this as we don’t tend to get a response from them even if we initiate the conversation. He gives us good advice regarding the viewing point that was the target and now is dropped in favour of a return from here as he tells us there is little or no visibility due to the low cloud.

There are welcome breaks in the rain although the wind remains very strong and manages to bring squalls of wet bands that hit us without warning as the heavy clouds are driven across the sky which, at this height, touches the moor. Upper clothing is on then off in unplanned hits. During the winter we’d leave it on but on a warm day like today, walking with waterproof clothing would be energy-sapping and create a wet person underneath due to sweat and lack of ventilation all followed by clammy cold – not pleasant.

We trudge on planks and large stones that bridge us across some very wet areas that would take some time to walk around. They’re faceless volunteers and whilst I don’t know their names, I’m very grateful for their secret labours.

Roseberry Topping

As we approach the top of the moor I stop George talking as I point to the top of Roseberry Topping as it makes a rise over the horizon like a vivid moon emerging from the dark side of a planet. The three ‘D’ effect is spectacular and becomes even more pronounced as we approach. Watch out for it if you do this walk, it’s spectacular.

We reach the point on Newton Moor where Roseberry is in full view but from this angle, there is no ‘Matterhorn’ effect and it looks like a symmetrical hill, albeit a bit more than a hill but without doubt symmetrical. There are quite a few people on it today and we decide against the detour in favour of a return towards Captain Cook’s monument and the cars. The weather is kind on this final leg although the threat remains we make our way down the final steps without the ‘help’ of the sinister cloud wrapping its clammy arms around us and polishing the clay into a ski-run.

The return journey involves a detour through Kildale and then a trip through Commondale. All very nice and we were not perturbed but anyone running against the time would not have been pleased with a 20-mile detour.

It’s great to get back out with such close friends even if, during these times, the closeness is purely emotional. Looking forward to more of the same.

Enjoy the snaps…G..x

Thank you George Renwick, Dave Rider, Pete Hymer, Dave Bowman, Chris Richardson, Tony Wright and Roger.

Feel free to share etc but commercial use needs written permission.

1 thought on “Captain Cook’s Monument Loop”

  1. This is a wonderful walk and well described by you George, it’s an eerie view of Roseberry Topping coming in from that direction.


Please comment - I love comments...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.