FARNDALE is one of the main dales which bisect the North York Moors from the south. This walk initially climbs out of the valley and follows the excellent high level path before returning to the dale floor.

Farndale is a long valley running south to north in the heart of the moors. Park in the beautiful village of Church Houses, or a mile further south at the car park at Low Mill. It is a good time to visit both villages as the daffodils are superb and the wild flowers of the early summer be upon us.

From Church House take the road heading steeply north west out of the valley. The road is quiet but it is a 750 feet climb. Having reached the top you may need to follow the road left to the famous Lion Inn for a refreshing cup of tea. This is an historic pub built in the 16th century and at 1,325 feet one of the highest points in the North York Moors.

However, the better option is to take the wide track on your left. After passing through a gate in the first few metres the bridleway follows the edge of Farndale as it winds its way for six miles to Bloworth Crossing. This path used to be the Farndale arm of the iron railway that moved the iron ore out of the hills.

Originally, in the mid 1800s, the ore was taken by horse drawn wagons down the valley to the railway hub at Pickering. However the roads were unsuitable and the transfer was awkward and took forever. The roads were replaced by the railway, the route you are now on.

The walking is easy and the route finding not hard. The views are excellent with an interesting contrast between the bleak moors, green dales and coast in the distance.

Having wound your way pleasantly around the head of Farndale, the path comes to a noticeable meeting of paths, this is Bloworth Crossing. This is where the railway crossed the drover’s road of Thurkill’s hill road. From 1861 to 1929 the crossing was actually manned, a nearby cottage housing a gate keeper’s family. Now you will only see walkers, sheep and often loud sky larks.

At the crossing take the track just east of south keeping to the undulating high ridge for a further three miles on the western slopes of Farndale. The views are even better on this stretch of the walk.

At the next junction of tracks turn left back in to Farndale, near Ouse Gill Head. This track descends gradually for just over half a mile before a steep final descent leads to the road at the valley bottom. A quick right and left will bring you to a road leading back to Church Houses.

Fact box:

Distance: Roughly 12.5 miles.

Height to climb: 390m (1,410 feet).

Start: SE 670975. Either park in the car park at Low Mill or at quieter times near the pub in Church Houses.

Difficulty: Hard but not in terms of the terrain, only in terms of the length of the walk.

Refreshments: The Feversham Arms is in Church House, the Lion a couple of miles away on the ridge. Both are excellent.

Be prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL26) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk. Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

Jonathan runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales:

• He has published 3 books on walks in the Dales; ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’, ‘The Dales 30’ mountains and the New ‘Walks without Stiles’ book.

• All (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website.

• Book a Navigation Training day in Long Preston (Two Levels: Beginners or ‘Hill Skills’) First Available Date is May 13.

Where2walk.co.uk also features 100’s of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.