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Two Horseshoes country walk - Rosedale
THIS month is the second part of the Yorkshire’s Two Horseshoes country walk, leaving Farndale for the more industrious Rosedale.
The village of Rosedale Abbey inherits its name from the priory which was founded in the 12th century and supported nine nuns and a prioress.
There were a few lay workers, mainly farmers and shepherds, and the priory had about 12 sacks of wool for sale annually from its flock of sheep. The priory survived until Henry VIII called for a suppression of the monasteries and the priory at Rosedale was destroyed in the 16th century.
It is hard to believe this small corner of North Yorkshire, on the edge of the bleak North York Moors, could have played such an important part in our industrial heritage. Although the Romans brought improved farming methods to the area and the French set up a glasshouse making goblets, tumblers, flasks, etc in 1567, it was the demand for iron from industrial Teesside in the early 1800s that started a revolution in the dale. Not the small-scale operation that the Romans or Iron Age people developed, but a large and vigorous industry fuelled by the insatiable demand for iron for the developing world.
Rosedale became a thriving mining community with iron ore mines opening on both sides of the valley and on the hills surrounding the adjacent valley of Farndale. The population of Rosedale swelled from a few hundred to more than 5,000 when mining was at its peak.
Men came from all over England and Ireland for a chance to earn the relatively high wages the dangerous job paid. Some even travelled across Europe from Italy to be part of the North Yorkshire mining boom. It is easy to imagine the scene in the 1800s as hard-faced miners gambled their money away and frequent fights broke out.
Rosedale had a railway around both sides of the dale to transport the iron ore to industrial Teesside.
The steam train would puff and pant its way around the dale side, then make its way across Blakey ridge via the Farndale mines to meet the North Eastern Railway branch line from Battersby Junction. At the opposite end of the dale, at Rosedale Bank Top, there was a huge chimney that could be seen for miles around.
This chimney, now demolished, was the part of the winding engine that hauled the trains up the incline from mines in the Hollins Farm area. It is these old railway tracks that today gives walkers and cyclists so much pleasure and allows us easy access to the moors and countryside. If it is peace and tranquillity you want it is here in abundance – but don’t go on bank holidays.
Your route Just before we set off on part two, we have a correction to last month’s part one route. As you leave the Rosedale Horseshoe to join the Farndale Horseshoe, cross the road and take the Farndale road opposite.
Cross the railway bridge, then go immediately right onto the old railway track to start the Farndale Horseshoe walk. Follow this wide track for about six miles where you will arrive at a crossroad of tracks, this is Bloworth Crossing. Turn left here onto Rudland Rigg to keep straight ahead across the Rigg on the wide, stony road. We apologise for the error.
Now let’s start part two. Leave the Feversham Arms suitably refreshed after your overnight stay and take the Castleton Road. This is the start of a steep climb to the main road at Blakey, but the reward is the fantastic views into Farndale. After a long climb to the top of the hill, cross the road to the car park. Take the track at the side and rejoin the Farndale Horseshoe, where you left it on the first part. Go left onto the track and in about a mile, leave the track.
There should be a sign to go left and cross the road for your morning coffee stop at the Lion Inn. Return to the track to continue along the Rosedale Horseshoe.
Along the way you will pass an old ruin and some industrial remains, then soon you reach the end of the dale. The track loses its identity now and becomes no more than a narrow path in places as it bends to the right. Watch out for the bog along here.
Once past the head, take care down a tricky incline on the path to Rosedale East which soon opens out again to the old railway track. Ahead of you in the distance, tucked into the hillside, are the remains of the rapidly deteriorating eastern calcinating kilns. The track towards the kilns has small subsidence holes in it, watch out for them.
Views across the dale of Rosedale are superb from here. Look back to Dale Head towards the moorland crosses of Old and Young Ralph and Fat Betty, which are situated on the high moors that surround the dale.
They were the signposts of their day used to guide travellers across dangerous land. In the opposite direction the view is more pastoral, but nonetheless satisfying, as the dale sweeps down to Rosedale Abbey.
Continue along the path past the kilns until a ruined building surrounded by a fence come into view.
Go to the left, then right here and head for a metal gate.
Through the gate and past the farmhouse onto the farm drive which leads to the road. Go left now onto the asphalt road to follow signs back to Rosedale Abbey.
Distance - nine miles (14½km).
Time - four hours.
Grading - Steep hill at the start of the day then easy walking.
Start/grid ref - Feversham Arms at Church Houses, grid ref 670976.
Best map - OS Outdoor Leisure 26 or OS Landranger 94.
Parking - your transport awaits you in Rosedale Abbey.
Refreshments - Lion Inn Blakey.