Hiking up delightful Roseberry Topping

Roseberry Topping Header

We catch a glimpse of our destination through the trees as we drive past. I shout out to Alex who smiles at my excitement. We were about to climb one of England’s most distinctive peaks: Roseberry Topping.

Roseberry Topping is a hill in the north of England in the county of North Yorkshire. This little peak on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors National park should be on all lovers of Yorkshire ultimate bucket list.

Read all about our wonderful visit on Roseberry Topping or skip to the bottom of this post to find out everything you need to know about visiting the peak. Where you can park at Roseberry Topping and lots of other questions are answered there.

We parked by the roadside, easy to do at that time of day as most of the day trippers have gone by 4 in the afternoon. Now we could properly take in the view of Roseberry.

Roseberry Topping has a conical shape, resembling the shape of whipped cream on an ice sundae. Similarly, Dr Seuz might have imagined such as shape and drawn it in his comics. Some even nickname the peak ‘the little Matterhorn’ due to its distinctive peak features. ‘Little’ is a key word there as Roseberry Topping is a dwarf compared to the great Swiss mountain. At just 320m this hill is not even the tallest in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, although it was long thought to be. Yet in the late afternoon the small hill stood proudly, basking in the golden rays the August sun was casting across the landscape.

The proud peak has endured much over the last century. The summit used to resemble a sugarloaf peak until a small earthquake caused the summit to collapse and become the conical shape it is today.

In the quiet afternoon sun, it was hard to imagine such an earth-shattering moment as it stood so peacefully. It did not seem that anything had changed here for thousands of years.

After admiring the peak’s shape, it was now time to climb up Roseberry Topping. 

My partner and I headed through the old wooden gate and strolled down a gravel path. We passed a few other hikers but not many. There were fields to either side of us, Friesian cows on one side and Cheviot sheep on the other.

We soon reached a national trust sign which is where things began to get a lot steeper.

Before us stood a leafy wood. The woods provided a wonderfully cool rest bite from the sun. Trees surround much of the base of Roseberry Topping. The path under the leafy bowers was very well maintained and there were steps carved into the hill side.

As we walked in the shade, Alex found a few blackberries hiding in a bush. Careful not to scratch ourselves on the thorns we collected a couple of deep purple treats. We snacked on a few berries as we walked, watching each other’s faces to see whether we had managed to find a sweet or a very tart fruit! The sugar rush and juice from the berries helped us on our journey upwards. 

We then left the shade of the wood and were about to make the final ascent on the bare summit of Roseberry Topping. Here we passed a few walkers taking a rest before the next stage of the hike. We carried straight on, eager to reach the top.

The path was rockier here. Make sure you wear good shoes when hiking up Roseberry Topping. The sun was beating down leaving us slightly breathless as we climbed. I was cursing myself for wearing a jumper. I had assumed it would be breezy on this lone peak. Yet no winds tickled our skin. Whilst we could see the sea in the far distance we certainly could not feel any coastal breeze.

Yet we carried on as we had almost reached the iconic summit.

We scrambled over the grey rocks, smoothed after years of weathering. The reason Roseberry Topping looks like it does is due to the hill’s protective sandstone covering at the top. The harder stone protects the underlying clays and shales from erosion. Beneath the very summit are former mines which is thought to have encouraged the collapse of 1912.

Alex and I were completely out of breath by the time we reached the top. We stood still, trying to catch our breath and gazed upon the surrounding views. We now stood high above Cleveland plain and were rewarded with 360-degree views of the North Yorkshire landscape. To the East we could glimpse the blue waves of the sea. To the South we could see the Yorkshire Moors and in the far South-West the Yorkshire Dales. To the North we could see the smoky factories of Middlesbrough. We also retraced our route over the fields, through the woods as we saw the little winding path far below us. The views from the summit of Roseberry Topping are quite spectacular.

It is no wonder that hiking up here and seeing such views have inspired many an adventurer. Possibly the most famous amongst them was the explorer James Cook.

Almost 300 years ago James Cook’s family moved nearby. The moved to a farm at Great Ayton, very close to Roseberry Topping. After James had finished his schooling, he helped on the farm but whenever he had time off he would visit Roseberry Topping. No doubt fascinated by the interesting shape of the peak as Vikings and Northumbrian princes alike have been for centuries. These outings to Roseberry Topping are said to have been the awakening of his inner wanderlust. Now James had had his first taste of exploring and adventure there was no knowing what the Yorkshireman would do next.

James Cook became the first man to circumnavigate New Zealand. He helped map the Eastern shores of Canada and much of the Pacific Ocean. After James had outgrown his walks on Roseberry Topping he moved to the picturesque village of Staithes in North Yorkshire to work as a grocer. Clearly, this was not fulfilling James’ craving for wanderlust and he moved to Whitby to join the merchant navy and start his new life on the oceans. Yet something was left on the land to remember his adventurous nature.

We spotted a strange object on the neighbouring hill. It was a tall ochre obelisk. Of course, it was the Captain Cook’s Monument standing 16m high. The obelisk was erected in his honour on adjoining Easby Moor. What a fantastic memorial and how fitting that it is visible from the summit of Roseberry Topping.

There were quite a few hikers at the top of Roseberry Topping. A few foreign tourists had made their way to this remote corner of England. They were taking many photos and selfies from the summit. There were also families who had escaped smoky Middlesborough and were taking in some of the fresh national park air. These were the loudest visitors as the children ran around on the summit, making me slightly nervous that they might just run off the cliff top! The quietest hikers were the dog walkers. A few dogs and their owners were simply lying on the rocks, slightly warm after being baked in the sun all day. They were simply contemplating life and enjoying the view.

After spending a while on the summit, we decided it was time to head back down. We spotted a little stone structure in the field below us. I wanted to walk back down that way in order to see the strange construction up close.

I would not like to make a descent from Roseberry on a rainy or icy day! The path down was rocky and slippy. Alex choose a steeper shortcut, but I stuck to the path, cautious that I did not want to slip down.

We soon reached the field with the odd building. I believe it was a shelter of some kind. We heard loud twittering above our heads as we entered the structure. A family of swallows had taken refuge here. the young birds playfully flew through the open windows. Barn swallows typically feed in open areas making the location of this little structure perfect for the loud passerines.

This structure not only provided shelter for birds and hikers but also made a perfect stand for our camera. We looked back at the hill and admired the view. This was most definitely the best angle of Roseberry. We may have taken quite a few photos on self-timer here!

After our photoshoot we both just lay on the cool grass. Alex was exhausted from driving up north the day before and my crazy idea of crossing the moorland in the morning and hiking in the afternoon. He closed his eyes and enjoyed a quick nap. I lay back and gazed at the sky. Arms folded behind my head the grass tickled my hands slightly. The ground was cool but not damp, the weather had been kind to us. I tried to relax. Relaxing is something I find very hard to do. There are always things I want to do and things I feel I need to do. Just taking a few moments to do nothing is quite difficult. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and stared at the sky. I looked at the clouds and like a child tried to make out what they looked like. I saw quite a few animals and shapes of countries. I exclaimed to Alex what I was seeing. He grunted slightly in response. I do wonder what the hikers on the path must of thought of us both lying in the field.

My cloud spotting stopped from identify shapes in white fluffy clouds to spying darker clouds in the distance. I woke alex. The sun was starting to set, and we could see the faint outline of rain to the north. It was time to leave this wonderful place.

We walked back through the woods, nibbling on blackberries of course, to the car. That was a very, very pleasant hike. It belongs on all ultimate Yorkshire bucketlists!

What you need to know about hiking on Roseberry Topping!

How much does it cost to visit Roseberry Topping?

Roseberry Topping is owned by the National Trust. There is however no fee and it is free to hike up the peak.

When can I visit Roseberry Topping?

Given its remote, outdoor location the opening times of Roseberry Topping are the very precise timings of ‘open from dawn til dusk’

Where can I park near Roseberry Topping?

We managed to park for free on the road as we arrived later in the day. If you are not as lucky as us you can park at the carpark Newton under Roseberry. Whilst the peak of Roseberry Topping and its surrounding woodland are managed by the National Trust the car park is not. The car park is owned by the North York Moors National Park Authority meaning that a fee is payable which includes National Trust members.

Where is the nearest toilet to Roseberry Topping?

There are toilet facilities in the Newton under Roseberry car park. There is an accessible, mobility toilet in the carpark as well.

Can I take my dog up Roseberry Topping?

Yes of course! Your furry friends are welcome to come along and enjoy the hike with you!

What is the best time to visit Roseberry Topping?

On a dry day. We were lucky to have glorious sunshine for our visit. Given the steepness of the trail at points it would be quite an adventure to attempt a climb during torrential rain or if it was a bit icy. Spring can be a great time to see bluebells in the woods surrounding the peak.

How long does it take to climb Roseberry Topping?

It takes around half an hour to walk from the car park to the top for those with a reasonable level of fitness. I believe it took us just under twenty minutes, but we pretty much raced up as I was so warm in my jumper I was hoping it would be cooler on the summit!

As the path down is quite rocky it takes around the same amount of time to walk back down unless you are very surefooted!

In total allow yourself at least an hour, preferable a couple so you can enjoy the wonderful views and find a few blackberries in the woods!

I don’t think I am very fit, can I still climb Roseberry Topping?  

The great thing about this hike is that it is quite short. Even if you are not particularly fit there are plenty of points where you can stop and have a break. It is worth the work out and the pain will make your reward even sweeter!

Do I need good shoes to walk up Roseberry Topping?

Yes. You do not have to wear very expensive hiking shoes but good sturdy shoes that preferable support your ankles. The terrain, especially near the summit is quite rocky meaning that sandals are not going to give you the support you need.

Thanks for reading! 

I hope you have been inspired to visit Roseberry Topping! Let me know in the comments if you would like to attempt a hike up Roseberry Topping!  

Where is the best short hike in England? 
Roseberry Topping is a lovely hill in the North Yorkshire Moors, England. Click here to read about this wonderful trail in the North of the UK and everything you need to know about hiking Roseberry Topping. #yorkshire #mytravelscrapbook #hiking

14 Replies to “Hiking up delightful Roseberry Topping”

  1. Wow, what a peaceful hike with very few people! I remember learning about James Cook in New Zealand – did not know that he helped map the Eastern shores of Canada. I feel like such a bad Canadian to not know that haha

  2. Roseberry Topping is such a fun name – – it sounds like a delicious confection! Although it is not a big mountain, it certainly offers up some lovely views. It sounds like such a delightful and relaxing afternoon – – a little exercise and a little lying in the grass is always good.

  3. This looks like a great little hike which I can’t believe we’ve never done considering we live so close! Your photos are beautiful with the evening sun glowing on the peak!

  4. Roseberry Topping is such a cute little mountain. I love they they call it the little matterhorn 🙂 I’m always amazed when I hear James Cook’s name as I grew up in a small town in Newfoundland and one of the main sights is a memorial to him as he founded the Bay of Islands where the town is located (on the eastern shores of Canada). Great post!

  5. Wow it may be called the little Matterhorn, but doesn’t look too little to me to hike! It didn’t look too busy when you visited, that must have been nice. Not sure I would have been able to hike up it, looks very steep! Really enjoyed reading the FAQs, might have to check with my boyfriend if he fancies going there 🙂

  6. This hike sounds like fun! I like that it’s a relatively short hike and fairly easy if it’s not wet out. The views from the top are gorgeous and even better that it’s not so packed. It’s also great that it is free!

  7. What a great day hike in Northern Yorkshire. I love it when Darcee & I spend time hiking around the outdoors…can definitely be a perfect blend of a great workout mixed with a nice romantic date.
    I love how the Hike to Roseberry Topping is organized and I loved the views you captured at the top. But you totally sold me with the story of James Cook. I love following the great explores and adventurers!Definitely adding this to when we return England.

  8. Now that looks like a mountain, err hill, I could climb! Maybe some year when I get to Hull to see my favorite football team, I’ll have to take a ride up to climb the hill. It looks very peaceful and a nice way clear one’s head and feel refreshed. Thanks for the back history as well.

  9. Hiking up to Roseberry in North of England in Yorkshire looks a beautiful hike. I would love to go for this hike as it is not very dangerous and also short too. Never knew the story of James Cook.

  10. I’m always up for a hike, but I never really think of “England” and “hiking” go together haha. But this looks like such a lovely outing! And I love that it’s not touristy and wel-known.

  11. Awe. I’ve always heard about the little Matterhorn, but I had no idea you could hike this starting at 4 p.m. at night. What a wonderful view from the top as well! Thanks for sharing all of the tips on how to make the most out of a trip to Roseberry Topping!

  12. Great article, this little peak is now on my must do list, the views looked so beautiful, I love Yorkshire. As an Australian expat, you omitted a really important part of our history, James Cook ‘discovered’ the east coast of Australia, landing in Botany Bay in August 1770.

  13. I love this place! Glad you discovered it and enjoyed it so much!

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