Climbing the Matterhorn

Total distance: 17 km 10.6 miles
Average speed: 3.3 k.m.h. 2.1 m.p.h.
Height gained: 565 m 1,836 feet
Maximum altitude 320 m 1,049 feet
Total time: 5 hours

Phoenix’s Saturday walks have a different feel to them. There tends to be a larger contingent of younger people (these terms are relative!) and there is only one coach so fewer walks. All in all the day has a more relaxed feel to it. That was heightened today by there being just 21 people out and even with only four walks that still meant only a small number on each one, in my case Kate, Ron and Dorothy. I’d planned a route of 10-11 miles but with quite a bit of climbing as I included an ascent of Roseberry Topping.

We started on the outskirts of Great Ayton and began by following a narrow path through a housing estate – at times it felt as if we were walking through people’s back gardens. On the way through the village we came across this Victorian relic, one of three urinals which used to be in the village.

The Victorian urinal in Great Ayton

Fortunately we were able to take advantage of the rather more modern ones just across the street.

Out of Great Ayton we started the climb to Rosebery Topping, through Cliff Ridge Wood, past this shelter built in the eighteenth century for shooting parties (the area used to be a game estate) and then up the steep, but short, ascent onto Roseberry Topping itself.

Shelter for shooting parties with Roseberry Topping in the background

Roseberry Topping is one of those hills that is indelibly associated with a particular place, a bit like Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. Known colloquially, with a slight degree of hyperbole, as the ‘Matterhorn of the Tees’, its distinctive profile is visible for miles around and is the subject of innumerable paintings and photographs (the best of the latter, in my opinion, being those of the Northallerton based photographer, Joe Cornish ).

Despite the steepness of the climb it’s a very popular destination and the top was crowded with walkers, young families and dogs. Unfortunately the gloomy weather meant we could not enjoy the view, described as one of the best in Britain ( ) but here is a photo to prove we made it to the top.

Iain and Ron on the top of Roseberry Topping

Descending from the summit we picked up the Cleveland Way which we followed for most of the way into Guisborough. By now the weather was closing in and whilst the route took us across another notable viewpoint at Highcliff Nab there was nothing to be seen.

The view from Highcliff Nab

From the Nab the Cleveland Way descends gently through Guisborough Woods to Slapewath where we turned left towards Guisborough itself. This took us through something of a junkyard and past some intriguing looking structures.

Strange structures in Slapewath

Finally we followed Cleveland Street coming into Guisborough by the ruins of the Priory.

The ruins of Guisborough Priory

Despite the rather gloomy weather a thoroughly enjoyable walk.

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