The North York Moors are all about the sheep! They have a very important role to play in managing these moors. In late summer, plum and purple swathes of heather swaddle the moorland. Cocooned in this bounty, red grouse nest, feeding their young on juicy shoots of heather. For centuries sheep grazing has been the traditional way of keeping the heather short and encouraging new growth. Without the heather, highly invasive bracken would take over, destroying the habitat.
I love the wildness of the Moors and can’t get enough of them in their rose-hued mantle. The weather up there has a mind of its own, and I was a little disappointed to leave sunshine at home and descend into Rosedale in gloom. Nothing for it but to hope that the rain kept off.
The calves were feeling frisky, the field of sweetcorn swayed in the breeze, and at the camp site someone had the kettle ready. As luck would have it, the wind eventually swept away the clouds, but you can never be quite sure.
The walk starts beside Sycamore Farm, just before the village of Rosedale Abbey. A track leads downhill and over a stream. Crossing a field, Blakey Ridge looms ahead. Don’t worry! I don’t expect you to climb to the heights. Instead, turn right to follow a lane through the tiny hamlet of Thorgill.
Suddenly the sun peeps out, and what could be more tempting than this flight of steps? My husband shakes his head. The sign says Farndale, and that means up and over the top. I can’t resist just a quick look at the tumble of cottages. And a plum tree, alone in a field.
Over the top? Maybe another day. For now it’s gently upwards through Rosedale’s peaceful valley. And look how blue the sky has become!
Looking over the drystone wall, I spotted some Rosebay Willowherb. A fancy name for a wildflower. You probably don’t remember but there was a big clump of it in my last walk. Badfish asked me jokingly if you could smoke it. His latest post reveals a much more serious side. Don’t miss it!
Such a rural landscape and yet there are still traces of an industrial past. If you look into the distance you can see the dramatic remains of the East Mines, and the colour of the water in the River Seven might give you a clue what was mined there.
Rosedale East Mines opened in 1865. Visible today are the remains of the calcining kilns, where ironstone was roasted to eliminate impurities and reduce its weight. The iron ore was taken by rail from Rosedale over the moorland to Ingleby, where it was lowered down the northern edge of the moors by tramway on the 1-in-5 gradient Ingleby Incline. It would have been anything but peaceful as up to 15 wagons at a time were steam hauled around the top of the valley.
It was brutally hard work in the mines. It has been described as a ‘regular slaughter place’ where ‘both men and horses are getting killed and lamed every day’. Despite this the mines continued in operation until the General Strike of 1926.
These days the silence is only broken by birdsong, cows lowing and the occasional growl of a tractor. The farm with an idyllic view had a runaway mother hen as I passed by. She clucked anxiously back and forth, trying to chivvy her offspring back through the fence. I watched at a discreet distance till I was sure all were safe, before heading past the former miner’s cottages and back to my start point.
The village of Rosedale Abbey is barely a mile down the road. It was named for a Cistercian Priory, founded in 1158, of which only a fragment remains today. The main attraction is the village green, and a choice of two cafes or a pub. I can highly recommend Graze on the Green. One of the best scones I’ve ever eaten. (and you know I’ve had my share!)
Nutrition accomplished, it’s time to go and seek out some of that glorious heather. The road back across the moors dips and twirls, offering up breathtaking views as you crest Blakey Ridge. ‘Pull in, pull in!’ I admonished the partner, careless of what might be behind us on the narrow road.
Some of you know what happens next. The edges of the moors road have a little ditch where the rain drains off. Out I leapt and straight into a ditch, with a sickening jar to my ankle. Why do these things happen to me? Careless, that’s why! It was some minutes before I could take the desired photos, but here they are. The sheep never even blinked.
I’m still a bit of a hop-along but I’m getting there. So glad you could join me. The Rosedale Abbey website offers a wealth of helpful details, and I even noted a ‘Tea Shop walk’. Sound promising?
Huge thanks to everybody for offering up your walks to share, and for ambling along on mine. I love your company. If you’d like to join me, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page. Just click on the logo. Settle in now for a good read!
Inspiration must surely be Drake’s middle name :
Food, fun and frolics in Canada, with Jackie :
If you’re still hungry, head on over to Violet’s place :
Nothing I like more than a touch of Capability Brown! And fuzzy sheep! Thanks, Elaine :
A lovely old house and a sculpture trail sounds good to me. BiTi will show you round :
A Yorkshireman in NZ has found a place that looks like home. Please go and say hi?
My favourite early riser takes us for a twirl by the Wisła. Thanks, Meg. You’re always a joy to accompany :
Random, but comprehensive! That’s Prague through Cardinal’s lens :
From Italy next I’d like to introduce Discovermarche, with a fun walk :
And if you’ve always wondered about the German capital, take a trip with Kathrin :
That’s it for another week. I’m hoping to post on Thursday but I might be a bit slow with my comments. I’ll be in Edinburgh, waiting to meet up with the delectable Jude. Take care till then!