Roseberry Topping

The little mountain with a strong spirit


Rosebery Topping sits on the northern edge of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, in North East England.


The area is well worth a visit, but be prepared for an uphill, scenic walk, through woodland, across grassy banks to some quaint views across the hills and moors.


Its strange Matterhorn shape is due to local geology, and Rosebery topping has been known by many other names - Otneberch, Ohtnebercg, Othenbruche, Ornbach, Ounsbery, Onesbergh, Hensberg, Hogtenberg, Thuerbrugh and Thuerbrught.



The paths leading to the summit are well marked public bridleways and although rather slippy in wet weather, they are well worth the hike. The walk from the base to the summit takes around 1 hour. It's a rewarding walk with many species of birds: robins, grouse, pheasant as well as many woodland birds in the surrounding woodland.



The mount is formed from sandstone laid down in the middle and lower jurassic periods, between 208 and 165 million years ago. Its distinctive conical matterhorn shape is result of the hills hard sandstone cap protecting the underlying shales and clays from erosion by the effects of ice, wind and rain. The area around Roseberry Topping has been inhabited for thousands of years, and in 1920 a bronze age hoard was discovered  on the slopes of the hill and is now in the Sheffield City Museum.






The views from the summit are wonderful, and on a clear day it's possible to see as far as the Pennines, 50 miles away. There is also a fresh water spring on the summit, and old folk lore says it has an ability to heal tired and ill eyes.

Roseberry topping was said to be held in special regard by the Vikings who settled in the area during the early medieval period and gave the area many of its place names. They gave Roseberry Topping its present name: first attested in 1119 as Othenesberg, The hill went through many different names before finally settling with Roseberry. "Topping" is a Yorkshire dialect derivation of Old English topp, 'top (of a hill)'.


In 1936, the explorer James Cook was attending school and working at his parents farm at nearby village Great Ayton. When he had time off from working on the farm, young James  would take a hike up the hill which gave him his first taste for adventure and exploration, which was then to stay with him for life. 


The site was notified as a geological Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1954, and the site is also listed as being of national importance in the Geological Conservation Review.


This great hill has also been an attraction for many modern day artists including the folk rock group `hat trick´ from the hat trick album:  Newton-Under-Rosebery-Topping, with the lyrics:  and it's cold and it's wet, And you feel like you're part of all time. Another world famous artist, Chris Rea, dedicated the song Chisel Hill  from the album Shamrock Diaries to the wonderful quaint little mountain.


Peter C.

Re Edited: Dec 2017