With nature having a variety of colourful tricks up her sleeve at this time of the year, I very much recommend this gorgeous seven mile walk around upper Rosedale.
It’s essentially quite flat but does include an Olympic level climb and features the most wonderful cafe in the history of the world, as well as industrial ruins and beautiful moorland & valley scenery.
Oh, and take your cozzie because there’s a hot tub and sauna half way round.
I went by Moorsbus (available on Sundays until the end of October) and started the circular walk from the Lion Inn – the iconic and ever popular pub high on Blakey Ridge.
With the pub behind you, take the path 20 yards to the right of the cottage opposite, leading diagonally down to the valley.
After 300 yards or so cross straight over the old ironstone railway on a thin path just visible to the right of a small gully, heading downhill as if on a bee-line towards the farm in the distance.
The path soon becomes more obvious as you continue to descend through heather into a cleft on the valley side.
After half a mile or so of deep purples and olive greens, vivid splashes of scarlet lit up the valley as I passed two berry laden Rowan trees, and whilst it will be different if you are doing this walk in autumn, I guess the shades of russet and gold will be just as stimulating. You soon emerge on to a wider track snaking down to the valley in a series of hairpins (cut the corners off if your ancestors were mountain goats).
Go through the gate into Overend Farm and turn right along the track. Half a mile later at Hollin Bush Farm (Hollin is a Yorkshire dialect word for Holly), leave the wide path that heads right and go straight on through a gate to turn sharp left downhill in a field.
Stay to the right of the dip in the centre of the field, then cross a footbridge over the tiny River Seven, up through the next field, through two gates and then left on the minor road.
Now, prepare yourself for a treat and a half.
You are at the head of a remote valley with no through road, with bracken and heather climbing skywards on three sides.
Now be honest, is this where you’d expect to find a fabulous cafe serving superb home-made fayre and Yorkshire tea in bone china? Maggie Barraclough opened Farmhouse Fodder at Dale Head Farm a few years ago and now has parties of walkers planning their day around a visit to this hidden gem.
The views are wonderful, swifts flit around between the umbrellas in the garden and it’s just an outstanding place to eject your rucksack and watch nature getting on with her daily chores.
Maggie told me that the cafe will stay open at weekends in November and December, when home-made soup will be on offer in the covered area of the cafe.
If last winter is repeated, you may be lucky enough to get snowed in until February.
Drag yourself away and head through the gate marked ‘Fryup’ (it’s not the truckers entrance) opposite the cafe garden.
This path climbs steeply up beside a wooded gill, to reach the old ironstone railway which has taken the easy route round from the Lion Inn.
Turn right and head south for two miles.
With several sheep looking down on you like Apache scouts, pass the old roasting kilns, where the ironstone was baked to concentrate the iron content.
This industry was at it’s height in the second half of the 19th Century and, without a Thai businessman in sight, supplied the fledgling iron and steel industry on Teesside.
The old rail track terminates at a curious stone shed, around which someone appears to have made several attempts to recreate the final scene in The Wicker Man – either that or they’re planning a spectacular party on bonfire night.
Go through the gate to the left of the building and down the stony track, past a duckpond to the Daleside road.
Turn right and after 100 yards you come to The Orange Tree Relaxation centre, where you can have a sauna and jacuzzi should it tickle your fancy. (That last bit isn’t actually on the menu). What a wonderful and diverse place Rosedale is – and if you fancy staying a few nights, there are some super places for rent after you quickly turn left down a track marked Craven Garth Cottages.
Head straight on through a gate in the farmyard and continue downhill through a second gate to eventually re-cross the River Seven on a footbridge.
Head uphill to reach a wide crosspath which, if you turn right, will ultimately take you back to Overend Farm, below the Lion Inn.
For better views, head straight on through a gate, up through a gap in the next fence, then curl round to a ladder stile in the top right corner of the next field.
From here, supplementary oxygen needs to be considered as you follow a fairly distinct path heading steeply upwards through the bracken. A flatter, boggier stretch marks the boundary between bracken and more lush heather.
The path heads up and then right, before curling away left (ignore the OS map which shows the path heading off to your right) and relentlessly into the stratosphere to once again turn right onto the railway track. From here, it’s a gentle 30 minutes back to a little wooden fingerpost that you past three hours ago marked with the words ‘Lion Inn’, where – smelling delightfully of lavender and talc (but only if you had the Jacuzzi) – lunch awaits.