A yearning to ease in my new boots led to this eight mile loop around one of the lesser known areas of the North Yorkshire Moors. With neatly ordered fields easing their way up its sides eventually giving way to the wilds of heather, Rosedale can be a beautiful spectacle on its day. Unfortunately, on this day smoke from a nearby heather fire had clouded the sky and as a result, the late December sun we saw whilst driving over the moors that morning had been obscured. In need of provisions for the walk, we stopped off at ‘Graze on the Green’ in Rosedale Abbey. A little coffee shop and bakery that appeared to be the only place open in the village.
Rucksack now containing sausage rolls and flapjack, we set off on the first leg. Cutting through the carpark of the Milburn Arms hotel, we walked parallel to Northdale Beck, before entering a lightly wooded area and crossing said stream. Although we were still following the beck, we would ease away from it, steadily climbing until it was only a thin rippling ribbon. The combination of the smoke hanging in the air, and the bright winter sun attempting to pierce its way though, filled the valley with a hazy light. Pheasants, a couple of confused looking sheep, and the regular tapping of walking poles accompanied us as we made our way up the hill. Near the top of our climb, we came across a small stone farm building, and a man made pool. In a few years, this could well be a pleasant resting spot but when we passed earth was still bare, and the pool rugged.
The next section would be in woodland. Crossing the main road out of Rosedale Abbey, we ducked into dense trees, and followed the path through the woods, and towards a farm. This section could cause confusion, as there were several paths available once out of the woods. We stuck right, skirted around the farm and went up onto the disused railway.
From 1850 to the early 1900s, ironstone mining had a big effect on Rosedale. Due to the existence of this rock, several large kilns were built on the valley side, along with a railway to transport the resultant ore to processing centres in Co. Durham and on Teesside. Although the -now disused- kilns remain, the railway has gone with the only reference to its existence being the perfectly flat path snaking its way around the valley side. The kilns are daunting in size, and a must see if you are in the area. Their survival today -save for a few cases of missing bricks- is evidence of the genius of the Victorian engineers, and workmen who led to their creation.
With the help of our walking poles (a must have for flat walking) we made haste along the mile or so stretch of railway, still marvelling at the gargantuan structures we had left behind. It was cold on this section, exposed on the side of the valley, so we were relieved when we found shelter of another wooded section. This relief was short lived though, the path flanking the wood had taken the effect of the winter weather, and was now no little more than a muddy slope. Quarter of an hour of slipping a sliding later, we made it to the bottom of the hill, and to a farm promising a self service tearoom. This was the surprise of the walk.
A small stone outbuilding, lovingly furnished with leather chairs and sofas, coffee and tea making facilities, and joy of joys…a log burner. Seeing a price list and an honesty box next to the kettle, we heated the water, and placed the suggested money into the container. We then sat, waited, and watched the birds hop around in the garden. A pair of robins, red breasts bold in crisp afternoon light flittered between trees, a small group of sparrows fought over an old scone on the lawn, before being bullied off it by a blackbird. We sat there for around half an hour, sipping at our respective drinks and eating what we had bought in ‘Graze on the Green’. If you are walking in Rosedale, this is a great place to stop off.
We reluctantly dragged ourselves away from the warmth, and carried on. This was the halfway point of the walk, we had reached the head of the valley, and now it was a case of heading back to Rosedale. The next stop was to be another farm on the other side of the River Seven (not that one). We cut through several fields, each one getting distinctively more muddy, crossed a treacherous footbridge covered in ice, before scrambling up another mud and ice bank to get to the farm.
At this point, we made a tactical decision, and decided to stick on the road from then on, there had been far too much mud for one day. We crossed the river, picked up a farm road, and made our way back to Rosedale. Halfway down, we headed back over the river again to check out Thorgill, one of the places we had originally intended to walk through. The rest of the journey was easy walking on tarmac roads, the huge kilns looking over us still. We made good time, regularly checking our maps to make sure we had not gone past the path that would lead us back over the river, and into Rosedale. The bridge was similar to the one we faced at the top of the valley, thankfully this one was not so icy.
We headed back to the car feeling somewhat refreshed. After a heavy Christmas, this was the ideal walk. Although we had done eight miles, it had not felt like it. Neither hugely strenuous nor difficult, walking in Rosedale is good for those wanting a wander. In July and August the many paths, and doubtless amazing views from the railway will make the area ideal for a summer stroll. Or as we found, a great place to blow away the cobwebs after a merry and felicitation filled winter.