The radial density gradient (Gr) of Galactic cosmic rays in the ecliptic plane points outward from the Sun. This indicates an increasing density of cosmic ray particles beyond the Earth’s orbit. Due to this gradient and the direction of the Sun’s interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) above and below the IMF wavy neutral sheet, there exists an anisotropic flow of cosmic ray particles approximately perpendicular to the ecliptic plane (i.e. in the direction parallel to BIMF × Gr). This effect is called the north–south anisotropy (ξNS) and manifests as a diurnal variation in sidereal time in the particle intensity recorded by a cosmic ray detector. By analysing the yearly averaged sidereal diurnal variation recorded by five neutron monitors and six muon telescopes from 1957 to 1990, we have deduced probable values of the average rigidity spectrum and magnitude of ξNS. Furthermore, we have used determined yearly amplitudes of ξNS to infer the magnitude of Gr for particles with rigidities in excess of 10 GV.