Unlike many of England's hill figures, the origin of Sutton Bank's white horse are well known. The huge 325 x 225 feet figure was created as recently as 1857. A local teacher, John Hodgson, and his pupils marked out the horse and local workmen undertook the work of cutting it out. The hope was, apparently, to emulate some of the more famous hill figures of the South East.
The horse is fantastically visible from quite far afield. The slopes of Sutton Bank face a wide, flat plain and so the horse can be seen from a number of vantage points up to a dozen miles away - watch out if you're driving up the A1 from almost anywhere North of Knaresborough. However, getting close to the horse is pretty dispiriting: there is a car park/viewing point near its base but the viewing angle is such as to almost render the design unintelligible and in some ways the horse is best viewed from afar.
Furthermore, because there is no chalk under the soil here such as is found in the South, the horse is topped up with fresh chalk pebbles from time to time. In between these top-ups, the figure quickly loses its white lustre - and also suffers from the pebbles slipping outside the intended bounds, which also serves to make it less distinct.
Nonetheless, it's worth a visit as Sutton Bank itself is blessed with amazing views of the Vale of York, some excellent woodland walks and, in the summer, gliders launching from the Yorkshire Gliding Club.