IN the heart of the North York Moors is the valley of Rosedale. With Rosedale Abbey (a village) as its centrepiece, the dale offers a mixture of farmland, moors and a sprinkle of the area’s industrial heritage.

The village green at Rosedale Abbey is the best place to start the walk. The first thing to note is that there is no abbey and never was in Rosedale. However, a Cistercian priory did exist. This has since been destroyed, although some of the stone has been re-used to build the existing church. Only one tower remains near the west door of the church.

From the green, cross the main Rosedale valley road and head east for 100 metres past the Milburn Arms (now permanently closed). A footpath is signposted north on your left.

Follow the path in to North Dale as it heads up the east bank of the stream over some stiles. After three-quarters of a mile, follow the path as it crosses the stream at a footbridge on your left before climbing steadily out of North Dale, heading just west of north.

Just before the path enters some forestry, double back south for 50 metres, cross a quiet road (Knott Road) and then follow the track back north west along a forest track. After half a mile the track bends sharply left, just after the bend a path heads back north west, out of the woodland and climbs on to the open moorland.

The views open up impressively over Rosedale and further afield to Farndale across Blakey Ridge. The path meets a second path near a wall, cross the wall, leave the path and drop down the open moorland on to the Old Railway.

The following mile is a delight as it follows the old railway north with open views to the south and west. The railway was originally built in 1860, ten years after an area of high grade iron ore was discovered. Locally referred to as the Yorkshire Klondyke, it is estimated the population of Rosedale Abbey grew six fold in no time at all.

For 50 years Rosedale became a thriving mining community until production ceased in the 1920s and farming returned to become the main employer once again. The old track lines are easily followed and although this walk only follows them for a mile it is possible to carry on north all the way to Cleveland and Teesside. The vast kilns are still clearly visible as you walk.

After the old railway bends west, a bridleway leads steeply south (your left), with thick woodland to your left, towards Dale Head Farm (serving drinks and snacks except Monday/Tuesday). A footpath heads west to the valley floor, crosses a footbridge and climbs to a second farm, Moorlands.

From the farm a footpath skirts the slopes of the dale, heading just east of south, crossing a number of fields and stiles before meeting a larger track. From where the hill path meets the track back to Rosedale Abbey is a pleasant two-mile walk. The initial mile takes you to the small hamlet of Thorgill, a perfect location for one of the many holiday cottages in the valley. After Thorgill the track turns in to tarmacked road as it makes its way back to Rosedale Abbey.

Fact box:

Distance: Roughly 8.5 miles.

Height to climb: 350m (1150 feet)

Start: SE 725960. There is some parking by the green.

Difficulty: Medium. The walk covers some uneven ground on the moors but most of the day is spent on good paths and tracks.

Refreshments: The Coach House Inn and the Abbey Tea Room will provide refreshment for all.

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 walking in the Dales; ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’, ‘The Dales 30’ mountains and the ‘Walks without Stiles’ book. All these books (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website.

• Climb the 3 Peaks in 3 Days (Yorkshire version) Sept 6/7/8th

• Book a Navigation (Map and Compass Skills) Training day near Settle. All dates and details are on the Where2walk website. also features 100’s of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.