North York Moors

North York Moors logo
Browse section

Captain Cook

Bark Endeavour, Whitby © Endeavour, Whitby ©

The North York Moors is the childhood home to one of the world’s most successful explorers, Captain James Cook, and traces of his early life can still be seen today in and around the coastal towns and moorland villages.

Cook and the coast

Rosberry Topping Bluebells by Ebor Images webJames Cook was born on 27 October 1728 in Marton. In 1736, the family moved to Aireyholme Farm, near Great Ayton, where Cook attended the village school from the age of eight.

Cook often climbed nearby Roseberry Topping, enjoying the views of the sea. At 16, he left to be a shop assistant in William Sanderson’s grocery store in Staithes

In 1746, Cook moved to Whitby to start work as an apprentice seaman to Master Mariner John Walker. When not at sea, Walker lodged Cook in the house he and his brother owned in Grape Lane, which is now the Captain Cook Memorial Museum. His eagerness to learn earned him vital command skills such as navigation and astronomy. Soon he received an invitation to command one of the coal ships, which he turned down in favour of enlisting as an able seaman in the Royal Navy. Before long, he had risen through the ranks, commanding a number of ships under the Royal Navy fleet.  

Cook’s navigational skills were instrumental in mapping Newfoundland, which brought him to the attention of the Admiralty and The Royal Society. This led to his commission in 1768 as Commander of HM Bark Endeavour for the first of three Pacific voyages.

Trace the footsteps of Cook's childhood

Take yourself on a journey through Cook's early life in the North York Moors and visit the numerous museums, monuments and attractions nestled amongst the area that tell the story of the famous explorer.

Walks & tours

Roseberry Topping, Cook’s Monument and Aireyholme Farm

To follow in the footsteps of Cook's childhood, enjoy our classic 7 mile circular walk that takes in two iconic landscapes - Cook’s Monument and Roseberry Topping, often climbed by the young Cook it offers stunning views of the heather moorland and coast.

Harbour tour aboard the Bark Endeavour Whitby

A smaller replica of Cook’s original ship, the Bark Endeavour offers scenic trips around Whitby harbour and along the coast to Sandsend, accompanied by traditional sea shanties and tales of the life of Cook and the history of Whitby.

Activities to commemorate the 250th anniversary

2018 marks the 250th anniversary of James Cook setting sail on HMS Bark Endeavour to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun in the Pacific Ocean and travel further to explore Australia and New Zealand. 

The Captain Cook Festival will be taking place along the coast in Scarborough and Whitby from 6 - 8 July 2018. It's set to be a weekend of discovery and entertainment for the whole family. To find out more visit Discover Yorkshire Coast

Captain Cook Look Out! Discovery Trail

We'll be unveiling our new ''Look Out! Discovery Art Trail' this May, which will uncover some new Captain Cook connections, alongside festivals and commemorative activities so keep checking back here for details.