Jo’s Monday walk : Captain Cook’s Monument

Captain James Cook on the village green at Great Ayton

Captain James Cook on the village green at Great Ayton

I still have Paris stories to tell and photos to share, but life moves on, doesn’t it?  Late Summer is the most beautiful time of year on the North York Moors and I’ve been there several times in the past few weeks.  I wish I’d had blue skies like the one above for this week’s walk, but we’ll have to settle for ‘head in the clouds’.

‘Where do you want to go?’ asked the long suffering other half, last Monday.  ‘Somewhere with heather.  Lots of heather!’ I replied.  And where do you find the most heather?  On the very tops of the Moors, of course.  So, strong legs needed this week, but I’m in the Algarve next week so you can all have a lovely rest.  Are you ready?  Come on, then!

This is our start point

This is our start point

I’m starting out from the free car park at Gribdale Gate, just beyond the village of Little Ayton. You have several choices from this point but they’re all in an upwards direction.

This is ours!

This is ours!

That's the target! The little spike above the tree line

That’s the target- the little spike above the tree line!

Always on the Moors you are aware of nature

Always on the Moors you are aware of nature

Beneath our feet the bracken fades

While beneath our feet the bracken fades

You're following a woodland trail and steadily you will gain height

You’re following a woodland trail and steadily you will gain height

There are occasional diversions on the edges of the path

With occasional diversions on the edges of the path

Your first reward- Roseberry Topping on the horizon

Your first reward- Roseberry Topping on the horizon

Roseberry Topping is an iconic landmark in these parts.  The combination of geological fault and a mining collapse in 1912 created its distinctive shape.  The link will take you to the National Trust website with lots of spectacular views.  Joe Cornish is one of my favourite photographers.

Looking back you can see the moorland trail you have followed

Looking back you can see the moorland trail you have followed

A memorial beside the path

A memorial beside the path

Ahead, the Monument

Ahead, the Monument

Captain Cook’s Monument is a 16 metre high obelisk, located on Easby Moor and visible for miles around.  It was constructed of local sandstone and has stood on this spot since 1827.  It bears an inscription celebrating Captain James Cook, who was born locally at Marton- “a man of nautical knowledge inferior to none”.

The heather stretches for miles

The heather stretches for miles

And miles!

And miles!

It is the most glorious sight at this time of year, and well worth the climb, which can be taken slowly, with frequent pauses to look back.  Many families with quite young children were making the pilgrimage, so how hard can it be?  I wasn’t so sure about this next activity though.

Getting the heart rate going is one thing, but.....

Getting the heart rate going is one thing, but…..

He made it- thank goodness!

He made it- thank goodness!

The Monument and Roseberry Topping in the same frame

The Monument and Roseberry Topping in the same frame

You can continue on across the Moors and down into Kildale in the next valley.  The total distance is only 2 and a half miles, but you would then have to make the return journey.  I was content to simply descend the hill, much more rapidly than my ascent!

There is a railway station at Little Ayton, on the Esk Valley Line, but I’m assuming you arrived by car.  It’s all downhill back to the main village of Great Ayton, where James Cook spent many of his boyhood years.  It’s a very attractive village, with the river running through it, and a good pub, the ‘Royal Oak’, on the village green.

You could visit Captain Cook’s Schoolroom Museum if you have the time.  I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t managed it yet.  I’d better make that a project for the winter.  I apologise for the sullen skies but the heather is only at it’s purple best for a few weeks.  As we drove home the sky began to clear, of course, and I leapt nimbly out of the car to frolic with the sheep.

He's giving me a very suspicious look!

He’s giving me a very suspicious look!

walking logo

As I mentioned at the start of this walk, I’m going to the Algarve today and won’t be around to post a walk next Monday.  I’ll be back the following one, 15th September, so if you have any walks you’d like to share, feel free to leave them in the Comments as usual.  I’ll feature them the following week.  Any doubts, click on my logo above.  It explains how I run Jo’s Monday walks. Till then, happy walking!  I’m off to put the kettle on and visit all these lovely people.

My first walk this week is from a lady you might not know?  Say ‘hello’ to Jill, at Jill’s Scene  :

Breckenridge, Minnesota

Drake takes us to lovely Ribe in Denmark, and climbs a tower, too!  Energetic, like me  :

Step back time

Amy has the BEST photo of a cross mother swan in this post  :

Zilker Park, Austin

I’ve always enjoyed ’tilting at windmills’.  Jude has the most beautiful one I’ve seen in a while  :

Tilting at Windmills

Some fabulous footage of the Azores from Cardinal Guzman, also joining us for the first time  :

Horta- Azorean Islands

Take care and ‘bye for now!


    1. On a happier note, lovely lady, I’ve brought you back some owl photos from the Algarve. 🙂 Not so nice as the glass one, but cute. You’d laugh- my husband was walking around the market stalls looking for owls for you! Have I got him trained, or what? 🙂 🙂

      1. It really wasn’t difficult! The Algarve pulls out all the stops at this time of year. Free entertainment most evenings. 🙂 Hope you and Jeff are coping xx

  1. I’ve loved reading this post Jo! As a Yorkshire (via London) emigre to Australia I always love reading about my homeland and it has made me quite wistful (but then I love Perth too!). We’ve been coming back around March/April these last few years and I don’t think the heather would be out then? I do remember a pretty drive out to Whitby from my parents home in Harrogate a few summers back and the heather was everywhere – it was a lovely day and a beautiful drive. Have never done this walk but I will store it in the memory bank for future visits – one day we may make it back in warmer months! Lovely photos too! Hope you’re having a great time in the Algarve 🙂

    1. Thanks a lot, Rosemay 🙂 There are really only 3-4 weeks in August when it’s properly purple but it’s lovey up there most of the time. Not the place to be when it rains, though! I envy you Perth 🙂

      1. Welcome back from the Algarve Jo! We are certainly lucky with the weather here in Perth – the climate is beautiful 🙂 My daughter, Mlle, is in Portugal at the moment- she’s been staying in Lisbon and absolutely loves it says she could live there! She’s going up to Porto soon, then Spain, France and back up to London (as one does!) 🙂

      1. Thanks Jo so much for that – I’ll send her the link (and read it myself too!). I know she did a walking tour in Lisbon but she was on her own at that stage and she’s now joined a Topdeck Tour and is doing Porto with them (she found the walking tour a great way of meeting people in Lisbon and ended up pub crawling with a group of backpackers!). I know she’s looking forward to sampling the port too 🙂

  2. That massed heather really is something, Jo – and, of course, Cook is of particular interest to we Aussies ! Dunno about the effort required but: I’m not good with hills.
    I will WILLINGLY and HAPPILY accompany you on any flat walk … [grin]

  3. You described the walk beautifully and the photos I liked even more.
    The one of the trail where you gain heights is a classic composition.
    The ‘S’ shaped path leading the eye and the pines either side keep you in the picture.
    The thirds blocked in, in tone and shape are all balanced beautifully.
    Giving a feeling you are being beckoned along peaceful path.
    On a lighter note, I would have been tempted to take out the armed figure sneaking up on young James in the first photo.
    I am on another wonderful path Jo and it is all sunshine, _/\_

    1. Thanks a lot, Jack! 🙂 You weren’t going to ‘take him down’ were you? You don’t strike me as a violent man 🙂 To be honest, I’m not fond of the wicker soldier, who appeared in the village very recently, but I thought he provided interesting contrast and cause for comment.

  4. 2 and a half miles is no easy peasy esp. with bit of elevation and then you lingering around. 🙂 I love your biker shots. I always had James Cook in the back of my head as an explorer and that I would love to visit The Cook islands. Never really thought about his life back home so thanks for the tour, Jo.

  5. A fantastic hike, Jo. The heather is just glorious, and the monument so imposing against that moody sky. Riding a bike up that steep trail wouldn’t be my idea of a good time. Well done to Michael. 🙂

  6. i started giggling when you pointed the destination ‘spike’ way off in the distance! the lack of sunshine did not provide the best spotlight on the heather, but it prevented us from having a heat stroke!

    how great it would be to have total surround/sound heather experience! i loved taking this walk with you!

  7. Hi Jo, I realise that by now you are probably off to the airport and on your way to the Algarve so I don’t expect a reply for a while. Enjoy the sun and relax! My walk for you this week is a coastal one, but with a difference. I hope you enjoy my walk on the wild side 🙂

    Your walk brings back memories of doing the Captain Cook circuit – from Great Ayrton (starts at the Cook museum) up to the monument and then across to Roseberry Topping and then continuing back to the museum. All in all around 8 miles and in a snowstorm! I wouldn’t do it now! But I may go and look for some heather 😉

    1. It’s all just a memory now, Jude! But a very nice one 🙂 We got caught in a traffic tailback on the way down and had to divert through Harrogate- nightmare, but we made it! (must have been the lucky heather!) Seems so long ago already.
      Thank you for the walk. I’ll join you as soon as I possibly can.

  8. ‘The long suffering other half’… I may have to steal that line. 🙂 Beautiful fields of heather Jo and well worth the hike. Cycling up there looks pretty tough. I’m always so happy to see the sheep too.
    Wishing you a lovely and restful time in the Algarve.

    1. It wasn’t totally restful, Sue- that’s just not my style, to my husband’s eternal regret! 🙂 But it was fun!
      We were a bit worried about First aiding for that cyclist. I’m a terrible nurse!

      1. I doubt you are a terrible nurse. A lot of it is in the caring and compassion and I think you exude those qualities.

        No rest for the poor husband? You do keep things moving. 🙂

      2. I’m all heart- he got to sit 4 hours on a coach to Gibraltar, and 4 hours back again 🙂 🙂
        Thank you kind lady. Bobs curtsey! Just don’t ever put it to the test, ok? The first aid.

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