Farndale, Rosedale and the Moors

Jonathan’s View

“Anyone wishing to discover what really makes the North York Moors so unique must spend some time within its heart”.

The Area

Between the North York Moors Railway and the B1257 lies the true heart of the North York Moors. The valleys of Rosedale, Farndale and Bransdale typify the peace and tranquility of the area. These deep fertile valleys, full of cows, sheep and some crops are hemmed in by the high, forbidding moors. It is these high moors that characterise the area, bleak for some, particularly when the wind blows, but exhilarating for others. For me it is exhilarating. There is nothing more satisfying than striding out over the excellent moorland tracks, through the endless miles of purple heather and enjoying the far reaching views.

Those living in the valleys can no doubt clearly differentiate one from another but I don’t live in one so they tend to roll one in to another. Rosedale Abbey is lovely, as is the more popular Hutton-le-Hole but to me the red roofed houses with their clean lines and feeling of prosperity are part of what makes the Moors what it is – distinct, unusual with wonderful walking.

Northern dales

Old railway in Rosedale
Old railway in Rosedale

History is everywhere in the central Yorkshire Moors but no more so than on the high moors of Farndale, Blakey and Danby. Here the old railway that in times past sent the iron ore down to the lowland villages and towns has created such distinctive walking paths. Although there is no sign of the old iron tracks now at places such as Bloworth Crossing it is clear where the branch lines headed off in different directions to the mines. Nowhere can this be seen clearer than on the flanks of Rosedale where history really does come alive. The population increased 6 fold in the 20 years from 1850 to 1870 and nowhere are the old mines better preserved.

Today though Rosedale and its neighbours are peaceful farming communities. The principle village is Rosedale Abbey (no abbey here though just a small cistercian nunnery) which is extremely pretty. Next door in Farndale is more famous for its spring daffodils but still offers great walking at any time of the year. Finally Danby Dale is bleaker than the other two and rarely visited but does possess some interesting archaeological sites.

Southern market towns

Hutton le Hole
Hutton le Hole

Further south and west the land becomes tamer. Helmsley and Kirkbymoorside are the heartbeat of the area with Rievaulx Abbey and the lovely little village of Hawnby its crowning glory. Patches of forestry and woodland enliven the tranquil scene. The moors are never far away but the best walking is along the valley floors, alongside the rivers and streams that eventually find their way in to the Derwent and the sea at Scarborough.

Both Kirkbymoorside and Helmsley lie on the A170 and are mid sized, affluent looking market towns. Helmsley is built around a large market square with quirky shops and immaculate red roofed buildings built with yorkshire stone. It is overlooked by its own castle and the splendid remains of Rievaulx Abbey are only a few miles away. Kirkbymoorside is less noteworthy in itself but is an excellent base to explore the surrounding villages, rivers and churches that lie to the north. A word too about nearby Hutton le Hole, a picture perfect village set on a small river and full of artisans and local crafts.

Roseberry Topping & the Long Distance Trails

Bloworth Crossing
Bloworth Crossing

To the north of the region is one of the most famous sites in the North York Moors. Roseberry Topping is only a small mountain but its isolated situation and distinctive shape has earned it the reputation as the ,Matterhorn of Yorkshire, Fortunately it is a lot easier to climb than the Matterhorn and combined with a visit to the nearby Captain’ Cook’s Monument makes a straightforward but wonderful day out.

The northern rim of the central North York Moors is mainly walked by someone on one of the long distance footpaths. The Cleveland Way, Coast to Coast and 1 day, 42 mile Lyke Wake Walk all pass through the area. The distances here are long but the walking exhilarating, particularly as the handily placed Lion Inn makes a great breaking off point.

Other Areas in the North York Moors

Osmotherley & the West

Steam, Great Ayton & the Esk Valley

the Yorkshire Coast

The Best Walks in Farndale, Rosedale and the Moors

Easier Walks

Head of Farndale. Short walk on to the high moors at Bloworth Crossing.

Lands over Hutton le Hole. Link popular Hutton le Hole with the quieter Lastingham village.

Rievaulx Abbey. Extend a visit by exploring the ‘feudal’ lands nearby.

Harder Walks

Rosedale Explorer. History, moorland and valley combine on a 7 mile walk from Rosedale Abbey

Farndale & High Blakey Moor. Over 12 miles of superb moorland walking.

Dales of Kirkbymoorside. Some interesting lands to explore north of Kirkbymoorside.

Ash Dale from Helmsley. 2 dales to explore from the popular market town of Helmsley.

Hills over Hawnby. An attractive setting and walk over some beautiful hills & moors.

Weather Forecast



Other Things to do

Coming soon…

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