Roseberry Topping is a distinctively shaped hill in North Yorkshire, near Great Ayton. At 1049 feet, the summit is not the highest hill on the North York Moors, but it stands out from a level skyline. It is affectionately known locally as the “Yorkshire Matterhorn”. The highest hill on the North York Moors, is Urra Moor at 1490 feet. Its distinctive conical shape is the result of the hill’s hard sandstone cap protecting the underlying shales and clays from erosion. In 1912, a geological fault and possibly the mining of alum and ironstone, caused the collapse of the western face, producing a jagged cliff. The name, Roseberry Topping, is derived from the Vikings in early medieval times. ‘Toppen’ is an old Danish word, meaning hill. Although the hill is managed by the National Trust, there is a car park operated by the North York Car Park Authority. A stepped path and stone track provide a steep ascent to the top, where there are fine views across North Yorkshire and the Cleveland Plain as far as the Pennines on a clear day. The hill also provides walks across heather moorland and bluebell woods.
Captain James Cook, the famous explorer and navigator, spent his boyhood years at Aireyholme Farm, south of Roseberry Topping and went to school in Great Ayton. It is believed that he gained a taste for adventure when exploring the slopes of Roseberry Topping. A sixty feet high monument to Captain Cook was erected in 1827 on the summit of Easby Moor. It can clearly be seen from Roseberry Topping.