Battersby Junction, once known as Ingleby Junction, was the focal point for connecting rail traffic from Stockton, Northallerton, Middlesbrough and Whitby.

Alas, the line to Stockton and Northallerton was closed many years ago, but Battersby Junction with its station still lives.

It allows access to Middlesbrough for the Esk Valley line from Whitby using the junction at Battersby as the connecting point. In its busier days Battersby supported three platforms, a footbridge, water towers and a signal box.

In the 19th century Battersby was a hive of industrial activity when a branch line was built connecting it first with mines near the Ingleby incline, then extending the line to join the Rosedale Railway transporting thousands of tons of iron ore from the mines.

To accommodate this huge increase in trade, sidings engine sheds and a weigh house were built.

Rosedale had built a railway around both sides of the dale to collect the ore from the mines to be transported to industrial Teesside.

The heavily loaded steam train would puff and pant its way around the dale side on its way to Blakey Ridge, then via the Farndale mines and onto Bloworth Crossing, along the Ingleby incline to meet the North Eastern Railway branch line at Battersby Junction.

Terrible winter conditions often closed the railway for many weeks as snow storms and gales disrupted the infrastructure burying houses in snowdrifts up to 30ft deep. Before men could dig out the line more snow would descend often trapping the workers who, if they were lucky might find shelter in one of the line side huts.

In 1926 the mines were affected by a reduction in demand for iron ore and the mines closed, the railway, now depleted of its cargo of ore was reduced to just a single train a day taking waste from the calcinating kilns. Eventually the line was closed in 1929.

This left Battersby existing on passenger traffic from the Esk Valley Line when the line towards Stockton and Northallerton was eventually closed.

Thankfully, today we still have the Esk Valley Line running passenger trains from Whitby to Middlesbrough using Battersby Junction as a connection point of the two lines.

Let us hope it remains open for many years. I am sure it will if we regularly have a day out and take a ride along this incredibly scenic historic line.

Your route

Leave the car park turning right, then at the corner, follow the road to the left signed to Danby and Castleton.

Soon you arrive at Danby. It is a bit early for refreshment at the Stonehouse bakery and tea shop on your right, but you might like to buy a takeaway sandwich from there to sustain you on your journey.

At the crossroads, go straight ahead signed to Castleton. Take care on this winding road as it crosses two bridges, one over the Esk Valley Railway the other over the River Leven.

At Castleton continue up the long ascent through the village and at the top of the hill, take the second turning on the right, then in a couple of hundred yards, bear right onto a very narrow road keeping the post box on your left. It is important you get this junction right.

Cycle downhill now watching out for slippery corners and potholes. At the T-junction, continue straight ahead downhill which leads you into Westerdale village.

In the village at a T-junction, turn right signed to Kildale and Stokesley. Downhill at first, then a long climb onto the moor and eventually a very steep descent to a ford at Baysdale Beck picnic area.

Check your brakes now, then attack the long, steep ascent following signs for Kildale all the way to a crossroads. Go left here signed to Kildale and Stokesley and enjoy a change of scenery from moor to grassy fields with glimpses of the Cleveland Hills appearing in front of you. Cycle along through Kildale to enjoy grand views of the Cleveland Hills in all their glory as you get approach them on your way to Battersby.

Beware of potholes under the bridge, then at the T-junction, go left signed to Battersby and Ingleby Greenhow. If you stop at the level crossing and look to your right, you will see the red lights of Battersby Junction at the end of the line.

Continue along through Battersby village and a short way out of the village, on your right is a narrow road to Battersby Station and junction, if you would like to take a look. If not continue straight ahead.

Soon pass through Ingleby Greenhow, then in a mile or so at Easby, turn left signed to Great Ayton and Stokesley. It is not far before you turn right signed to Great Ayton and Middlesbrough.

When you arrive at the T-junction in the centre of Great Ayton, bear right over the bridge, then immediately right into the village. Plenty of refreshment here as you pass the shops, then turn right at the sign for Little Ayton and Station.

At the roundabout go left signed to Ayton Station, Gribdale, and Captain Cook’s Monument.

Pass the railway station over a bridge and continue along where the road narrows past a few houses, then start to climb to eventually reach Gribdale Gate parking area.

Ride straight through here on a narrow road. When the road forks keep left, then continue along to a T-junction.

Go left here to soon enter the forest on a rough road. Continue along this road keeping straight ahead as it climbs to soon leave the trees on a road across the moor.

Leave the moor at a T-junction and turn right onto a Tarmac road. Grand views once again as you traverse the ridge road, then soon start to descend to a crossroad.

Go left here signed to Commondale and Castleton. Keep straight ahead through Commondale and start a severe climb onto the moor eventually to reach a T-junction (crossroad).

Turn right this time onto a good road signed to Castleton which is sometimes quite busy. Eventually you reach a steep descent with sharp bends which takes you past the Eskdale Inn to climb up into Castleton.

Go left here signed to Danby, Botton and Whitby. Cycle back along the Danby road and at the crossroads go straight across and uphill on your last leg to return to the visitor centre car park.

The facts

Distance – 25miles/40km

Terrain – Some severe climbs

Best map – OS Outdoor Leisure 26

Start/grid ref – Moors Centre Danby car park, GR708083

Refreshments – Café at the Moors Centre, café in Danby village near crossroads, cafés in Great Ayton or plenty of pubs on route

Public toilets – Moors Centre, Castleton, Great Ayton, Commondale