I-Spy a lovely place to stretch those legs ....

Windlass - Farndale Railway
Windlass - Farndale Railway

I-Spy pocket books were hugely popular 50 years ago, with titles such as I-SPY Cars and I-SPY on a train journey.

As children saw a Ford Cortina say, or some men leaning on shovels, they recorded the event in the relevant book, before sending the full book off to Big Chief I-SPY for a feather and a freshly Xeroxed certificate.

Moorsbus to Pickering

Moorsbus to Pickering

I-SPY books tried to make a comeback four years ago, but today’s kids can’t work out how to insert the batteries.

I-SPY Moorsbuses would not be a voluminous tome.

The National Park Authority – custodians of the North York Moors on behalf of the British population – controversially cancelled the entire programme this year, in order to upgrade the sandwiches at their meetings.

Okay, the Government has cut funding, but what a shortsighted and draconian decision. Thankfully, the Friends of Moorsbus (look them up on Facebook) cobbled together enough support to retain two services across Blakey Ridge.



A stipulation from one of the financial donors was that guided walks should be available, and on a beautiful sunny day in early September, it was my turn to lead a small group of people into peat bogs in which they had never previously splodged.

I make no apologies for returning to Rosedale. On blue sky days like this, it is a truly beautiful place to stretch your legs. Starting at the Farndale turnoff near the Lion Inn at Blakey, head down that road for just 10 yards before skewing left down a thin path that is a spur of the disused railway that served the Ironworks across the ridge in Rosedale.

The indistinct trackbed runs for under a mile into a cutting, before coming to an abrupt halt shortly after an old windlass, presumably used to haul ironstone up an incline from the Farndale Ironworks which lasted less than 30 years down on the valley side.

As the path ends, scramble up to the main road, then right for a few hundred yards to a crossroads of footpaths, taking the left option towards Rosedale. Skirt past old quarries and other industrial relics, to drop down to the old rail track.

Dalehead Farm Tea Garden

Dalehead Farm Tea Garden

Turn right, and after half a mile, look out for a conspicuous double track snaking steeply downhill. It appears almost without notice, so keep your eyes peeled.

The track becomes less obvious further down the slope, but you need to be well to the right of the woodland ahead, and also bear right above a steepening gully which unfortunately lured me and several other trusting souls into a gloopy trap.

We survived by bursting free from the bracken and as heather turned to grass, curled right towards a farm just poking up over a ridge, and made for a ladder stile in the distance. Turn left after the stile, and go straight down to turn left again on the wide track running along the dale.

This is a gorgeous route heading up Rosedale running underneath some areas of woodland, and through a selection of gates and stiles.

Eventually, you drop onto a metalled road running across the valley, to a junction on the north side of the River Seven. Turn left and after half a mile you will reach Dale Head Farm – incorporating Maggie Barraclough’s fabulous tea garden.

This is a hidden gem, and my charges forgave me the earlier excursion into crimson slop as they tucked into a truly scrumptious slice of autumn apple cake and washed it down with lashings of leaf tea and elderflower squash.

This is the sort of place where you sit and idle the time away wondering about quandaries such as the Middle East crisis and the popularity of Katie Price. But if your head starts to rattle as you ponder that seven days of Wayne Rooney’s wages could keep the current Moorsbus service going for 100 years, it’s time to lace up and leave.

Head back down the road from whence you came, but after 30 yards take a path on your right into a field, soon over a footbridge, then up to the top right corner of the next field and through a gate to turn right along a track.

Among the buildings of the next farm, turn left and start climbing straight ahead, ignoring a gentler and more obvious track along the valley side. A path soon begins to snake uphill before bearing right through a gully towards the old railway, which you cross to take an obvious route up to the road near the Lion Inn. Alternatively, you can follow that gentler track from the farm to eventually head upwards and left ahead of new power lines, then gulp in some air and startle the sheep by climbing straight up the slope to the railway, where there are two alternative routes taking you up the last slope to the pub.