Roseberry Topping - Eastern England - CycleBlaze

June 8, 2018

Roseberry Topping

rough tracks on the Moors

It feels cool and it's cloudy at 8:00 when I venture out the back of the Fox Inn and wheel my bike up the street in search of coffee. Within five minutes I find Costa which is clearly a popular place with a long queue inside. I join the line, but after a few minutes my patience gives out and I walk out to find an alternative.

A matt grey shopfront with The Tearoom painted above its window seems like an option and despite the name I find it does have a decent range of coffees. I sit in the big window and start looking at my OS maps after ordering a cappuccino and a cream scone - the two maps are detailed but they miss out a crucial section where I go off-road on the Moors.

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It's nice to find that the second cup is free - deemed a refill. You wouldn't get that in Costa and I mention the queue there to the proprietor, who is phlegmatic and in his 30s. He posits it's the herd mentality and says he understands people simply go with what they know. To me it just seems a shame he doesn't get more custom, what with having such a nice place, one that's tastefully decorated and offering friendly service and excellent stuff.

Sat at a table opposite me is a woman in her 60s who has a strong accent and she tells me she's originally from Germany and as we chat about different things over our drinks she tells me it's her first time here but reckons she'll be back.

It seems OK outside, or at least not too bad, so I walk up and down the main street, visiting a few charity shops before going in search of a map that fills in the blank space on the Moors. 

A book shop has a selection including the OS one I need, but it's not cheap and while it covers the tiny piece just west of where I am it doesn't seem worth buying.

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It's a shame I didn't get to take any photos of the ruined Abbey yesterday as the grey skies don't do it any favors and a man at the wooden ticket kiosk hands me an info' sheet and tells me I can just make a donation, so I pop 50p in the collection box before I start walking around the grounds. We chat for a while and he tells me he's a volunteer and it's clear he knows a lot about the place, informing me where to look.

After taking a snap of the main part of the wall I go around to the tall trees and find all the odd bits of carved masonry left over, scattered among ferns and low shrubs, covered in moss. There are two rows of English lime trees he said were planted in the 1700s.

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Drizzle is coming down so I reckon I can pop back to The Tearoom and have another think about things while the weather sorts itself out. As it's almost lunch time I have soup and a pot of tea and after quite while sat in the same chair near the window the drizzle doesn't ease up so it seems like a good idea to don my rain jacket and just get riding.

I eventually find the path out of Guisborough and a cycle route leads me down a lane where I get a bit lost before seeing exactly where I'm on the map. 

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The Street-view image on my tablet shows a minor junction. I can't find it as it looks different to reality and it's a matter of doubling back to it after cycling as far as a locked gate  - it must be back there somewhere. It takes me a few minutes to understand where I need to be and there's a wooden gate in front of me and after opening it my wheels go along a trail visible on the short grass. It's not clear if this is actually the right way and the track soon wiggles as goes up through a wood of fir trees. 

A guy on a bike with a dog in tow doesn't know any more than me when I ask him which way to go, so it's just a mater of looking at my compass and going with gut instinct. I'm off the map but the rain has stopped and my jacket comes off.

After 20 minutes of riding there's a grassy area and a drystone wall and somewhere below are voices and I can see a few mountain bikers standing around chatting loudly, so I walk my bike down a steep rutted path towards them and find a wooden gate with a sign on it - National Trust Roseberry Topping. This is good.

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It's hard to ride as it's just a bumpy trail, but after a few minutes I know my location because Roseberry Topping appears on my right. It's a huge rounded hill with a distinct walking path going from it to another hill on my left - which is where I need to head up. My route looks difficult as there's just a rough stepped path zigzagging up an incline and sure enough it's a case of dragging my bike over the stones for about 10 minutes.

There's just a family of three out for a hike and the daughter is quite young - maybe 7. They speak with foreign accents that I can't quite place, but sound east European and probably think I'm a nutcase. I overtake them as they rest and once at the top there's a great view across to Roseberry Topping and it's a relief to find the trail ahead is quite smooth, made of compact gravel. 

It's more or less flat and a sign says I'm on a section of the Cleveland Way and heading roughly south.

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Following the trail is easy as there's a drystone wall on my right, atop a ridge and beyond that is the outline of Roseberry Topping. Although the panorama is wonderful, getting a nice snap isn't easy what with the sky being so grey.

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After a while the way becomes grassy and is less defined, but as it keeps going south it seems like it's the right direction. At least that's what I hope and when it comes to a steep section, there are rocks to clamber down to reach a lane at the bottom. 

It's simply a case of carrying my bike and hoping the stones are not too slippery as it'd be a real nightmare if I twisted my ankle up here.

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The paved lane is deserted and I follow it west and a sign at its end says it's called Dikes Lane and it soon veers south towards the village of Great Ayton, which has a train station. I ride over the rails, but don't bother going into the village and turn left and soon go through Little Ayton, which probably isn't any less great than its near neighbor.

It's a matter of following small roads for a while and heading through villages. I'm now back on my map and after Faceby I take the A172 south because otherwise it'd more cycling on off-road trails which looked rough on Streetview.  

It's now gone 5pm and the section of A172 isn't too bad as the traffic is light and I speed along it and soon make a left and follow a lane to Osmotherly, which is a cute village. The centre of it has a small three-sided green with a stone pillar next to an elevated slab of thick York stone and it's said to be where John Wesley stood and gave sermons in the 1700s.

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There are three pubs here and at least one does B&B, but the rate is pricey so I ride back to a B&B sign that I spotted and the owner quotes me 70 quid, which is still a lot but there's little option.

The owner tells me the best place to eat is the pub around the corner - the Golden Lion - and it's obviously a popular spot as there was a crowd gathered outside when I cycled past. He says I'll need to book a table, so that's what I do. 

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They pub can't fit me in until 8:30pm and when the time comes I go back and have mushroom risotto and a couple of pints, then push the boat out with a yummy Bakewell tart and custard.

Today's ride: 40 km (25 miles)
Total: 337 km (209 miles)

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