Driving advice, weather cameras and alternative routes for Sutton Bank, the stretch of extreme gradient on the A170 in the North York Moors.
The A170 is a single carriageway carrying traffic between Thirsk and Scarborough. At Sutton Bank, travelling eastbound towards Scarborough, the A170 climbs 160 metres from the Vale of York to the top of the North York Moors in under one mile.
The bank has three sections of steep 1:4 (25%) inclines along its length. Just over half way up is a left hand hairpin bend. Near the top, there is a final short steep section before the main road bends sharply right.
Weather station cameras on Sutton Bank
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If travelling to Scarborough, you can avoid Sutton Bank by using these alternative routes:
From the North (via Middlesbrough and Whitby)
A1(M) to junction 60 then A689, A19, A174, A172, A1043, A171.
From the South (via York and Malton)
A1(M) to junction 44 then A64.
A19 (North) and A171 via Whitby or A19 (South) to York and A64 via Malton.
Map of alternative routes
Avoid Sutton Bank if:
- it is wet, icy or snowbound (conditions are made worse during the Autumn by leaf fall);
- you are not familiar with Sutton Bank;
- your vehicle has a low power to weight ratio;
- you are driving a fully laden articulated goods vehicle;
- there is little weight over the drive axle;
- local signs indicate it is blocked; or
- you are an inexperienced driver.
On average, two goods vehicles per day experience up to four hour delays ascending Sutton Bank.
On average, over 120 goods vehicles per year fail to make the ascent and require police assistance to proceed.
Particular issues are that:
- wet conditions exacerbate the problem;
- drivers unfamiliar with Sutton Bank encounter more difficulties;
- the deceptively steep gradient leads to incorrect or inappropriate gear choice by drivers;
- the load position and weight strongly influences traction for goods vehicles; and
- HGVs with low power to weight ratios are more at risk.
At the bottom, engage a suitably low gear that provides flexibility to increase or decrease speed without further gear changes and remain in that gear until you are certain you have reached the top by the National Park Centre. Remember to dump or lift any axles.
You are also less likely to suffer a problem if you put in place extra load security measures before you begin the ascent.
- stop the vehicle
- call for assistance
- use the emergency lay-by if safe to do so
- ensure your vehicle is visible and use hazard warning lights
- ensure you are visible and use high visibility clothing
- reverse unsupervised
- endanger other road users
- Emergency: 999
- North Yorkshire Police non-emergency number: 101
If your vehicle needs to be recovered, North Yorkshire Police can arrange this on your behalf.