Great Ayton is a delightful village and best known for its most famous son, Captain James Cook, discoverer and explorer.
Cook was born on 27 October 1728 in Marton, near Middlesbrough, but his family moved to Great Ayton when he was eight and he spent the next eight years of his life here before moving on to Staithes, near the lovely fishing port and seaside resort of Whitby. The town is part of the Captain Cook Heritage Trail. The local school where James Cook was educated is now the Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum.
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Great Ayton lies at the foot of the Cleveland Hills and is a superb base for a walking holiday (you can join the 110 mile Cleveland Way from the village).
It is overlooked by Roseberry Topping (which may sound like a fruity dessert but is actually a hill of 320 metres with a very distinctive, er, top) and Easby Moor (where you'll find a monument to Cook) and which offer spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. The unusual shape and prominence of Roseberry Topping led it to be called "The Cleveland Matterhorn". Captain Cook's home was at the foot of Roseberry Topping - he lived in a place with the delightful name of Aireyholme Farm.
The River Leven runs through Great Ayton, between High and Low Green.