The North York Moors will be the main topic here for the next couple of weeks, watch out for my Lyke Wake Walk report here next week!
After a mild spell at the end of the year, a bank holiday offered an excellent opportunity to test out the fresh air of 2012. My first walk of last year was a dawn walk up Roseberry Topping with my mate Stu AKA the Darlo Llama, and so it seemed fitting to return with the Llama to the North York Moors.
We parked up at Great Ayton, and headed out on a 6 mile circular. This would take us directly up to the Captain Cook Monument, down through the woods of Coate Moor then up to Roseberry Topping.
The sun was just coming up as we arrived with the roads leading to the Forestry Commission car park still icy in places. It was a cold start but we soon warmed up on the climb through the woods towards the Cook Monument. As the trees gave way to the moorland, we were greeted with an odd sight - an evergreen tree complete with Christmas decorations!
A few steps further and we were on the top of the hill at the Monument.
From here we were treated to some great views over to the icy tops of the Cleveland Hills, which I would be crossing just a couple of weeks later on the Lyke Wake Walk.
It was still cold and windy but the sun was slowly pushing emerging from behind the hills and by the time we reached the woods we had a bright blue sky. We were treated to the sight of a deer crossing the path less than a hundred metres ahead of us and a couple of squirrels dancing in the trees - unfortunately they were too quick for the camera.
We had joined the Cleveland Way for a short while, but when we reached a farm track, we headed northwards up towards Great Ayton moor. This was slippery and muddy in patches but we were soon on the well maintained bridleways, heading up through the heather.
We started passing more and more people as we headed up the path which eventually rejoined the Cleveland Way.
Once again we diverted off the long distance path, to head over to the summit of Roseberry Topping. This small but spectacular hill is a treat every time. It offers a lot of reward for the minimal effort of the climb to the summit, its isolated position means that it gives big views in all directions.
Always a popular one, there were huge crowds up there on this occasion so we did not stay for long.
We headed back down the way we came and back over to the moorland. Just as we were approaching the drop back down to the car park, cloud and a few drops of rain threatened to put a dampener on the day, but the cloud soon passed and the storm never materialised.
When we arrived there was just one other car parked up, but on returning, the car park was full to the brim and more. Well worth the early start!