Great Ayton to Little Ayton and Cliff Ridge Wood Bluebells round

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North Yorkshire is England’s largest county and one of the most rural comprising of the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors, Vale of York and the coastal regions and they all have their own distinctive natural beauty. The county covers an area of 3,341 square miles and 40% of this area is covered by National Parks and with stunning moorland, beautiful dramatic to rolling hills, ancient woodland, a spectacular coastline, splendid waterfalls, many attractive villages and hamlets and many historic sites such as abbeys, castles, priories, stately homes and traditional pubs there is something for everyone of all ages to explore.

The North York Moors has one of the largest expanses of heather moorland and it became a National Park in 1952 and covers an area of 554 square miles stretching from the Derwent Valley to the Cleveland Hills just south of the Tees. The sandstone and limestone hills have formed a rugged landscape with wide heather clad moorlands on the open tops and pretty farming communities and villages in the many sheltered valleys many of them hidden away. To the north and west the moors are defined by the steep scarp slopes of the Cleveland Hills on the edge of the Tees lowlands to the east the moors are clearly defined by the impressive cliffs of the North Sea coast and to the south by the broken line of the Tabular Hills and the Vale of Pickering.

Great Ayton, on the edge of the North York Moors between Stokesley and Guisborough, is a very pretty village perched on the banks of the River Leven at the foot of the Cleveland Hills below Easby Moor and the distinctive Roseberry Topping. The River Leven, a tributary of the River Tees, flows through the village and links its two centres High Green and Low Green.  Great Ayton was home to the Great Ayton Friends Quaker School from 1841 until it closed in 1997 and a plaque on the wall of the building can be seen at the far side of High Green.  Great Ayton once a centre for the industries of linen making, weaving, tanning, brewing, mining and tile making in the 18th and 19th centuries is now famous for the boyhood home of Captain James Cook and Roseberry Topping. Captain James Cook the British explorer and navigator lived in a cottage in Bridge Street. He was born in 1728 and attended Postgate School which is now The Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum dedicated to him, there is a statue of him on the High Green and a monument, 6 metres (51ft) high, in his memory stands on Easby Moor on the Cleveland Way and can be seen for miles around. The distinctive Roseberry Topping with its half-cone shaped summit and jagged cliff stands at 320 metres (1,050ft) is the result of sandstone laid down in the Middle and Lower Jurassic periods and is the earliest sandstone to be found in all of the National Parks in England and Wales. Roseberry Topping sits on the Cleveland Way and is very popular with walkers and tourists.

Little Ayton a small village located immediately south of Great Ayton is the home of Fletchers Farm which is a Farm, Coffee Shop, Campsite, Play Park, Farm Shop, Function Barn, Buttercups Pottery, and a wedding venue.  They also have pigs, goats, sheep, ducks and geese and are open Wednesday to Sunday 9.30am to 4pm. There is a car park and a parking area for the disabled.

At Cliff Ridge Wood, maintained by the National Trust, there are signs of the area’s industrial past and is along with Newton Wood a carpet of bluebells seen at their best in May.

The Walk

We park at the side of the river (Low Green) and walk towards the centre with the river on our right.  At the crossroads and bridge we cross straight over still following the river on our right. Almost opposite The Captain Cook School Museum we turn right over the little footbridge to pass the weir on our left and go through the gate into the field then bear left. We walk by the cricket and football pitches and head forward through the gates then through the gap in the hedge and bear left to the river and cross over the footbridge to the road. We turn right along the road and turn left just before the bridge and head along the track to Fletchers Farm. We pass through the farm and head forward on the track passing the camping field on our left. We soon cross over the railway bridge and when we reach the road we turn left. At the crossroads we cross straight over onto Aireyholme Lane. We make our way uphill for a while then turn left at the footpath sign going through the gate into a field and follow the fence on our right. We soon go through a gate into Cliff Ridge Wood. We head forward then at the Cliff Ridge quarry sign we turn left downhill. We go through a gate and bear right and continue round the field edge to go through another gate. We cross straight over at the track and then the Railway line. We now keep heading forward along the path until we reach the main road, be very careful here as you go through the gate because you step straight out on to the road but there is a path at the other side of the road. We turn left and make our way through Great Ayton back to where we parked our car.


This is an easy walk on grass and gravel paths/tracks and some quiet tarmac road. There are some stiles, gates and gentle inclines and declines.

Elevation: approx lowest point 78.50m (257.54ft) approx highest point 149.84m (491.60ft) approx ascent 82.84m (271.77ft).

Distance and Start Point

Approx 3.75 miles allow 1½ – 2 hours using OS Explorer Map OL26, North York Moors (Western Area). This walk is done anti-clockwise.

Start point: the side road by the large green area and the River Leven called Low Green.


Great Ayton on the A173 between Stokesley and Guisborough in the North York Moors, North Yorkshire.

Directions and Parking

From the A1(M) take junction 49 and take the A168 towards Thirsk. Take the A19 York turn off. At the roundabout take the second exit onto the A19 Teeside. Continue on A19 and take the A172 Stokesley road. At the roundabout take the third exit onto the A173 and continue to Great Ayton. After crossing the bridge turn immediate left for easy parking next to the river, Low Green.

Parking: free roadside parking by the River Leven (Low Green) and in the village centre (High Green).

Toilets and Refreshments

There are public toilets and for refreshments there are shops, butcher’s, a bakery, cafe’s, fish and chip shop and three pubs The Tannery bar only, The Buck with bar and food and the Royal Oak with bar, food and accommodation.

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