The valley of Rosedale

Reminders of former industry are all around you on this route near Rosedale Abbey.


Rosedale Abbey


7.5 miles (12.1kms)

492ft (150m)

About the walk

Rosedale is a quiet and peaceful valley that pushes northwest into the heart of the North York Moors. The village of Rosedale Abbey gets its name from the former Cistercian nunnery, founded in 1158 and closed in 1536. The nuns are reputed to have introduced sheep farming to the North York Moors. Only an angle of a wall remains, containing a broken stairway. Rosedale may be peaceful today, but little more than 100 years ago the village had a population ten times its present size after the discovery of ironstone in the hills in the mid-1850s led to commercial exploitation. As one of the villagers wrote in 1869, 'The ground is hollow for many a mile underground… It's like a little city now but is a regular slaughter place. Both men and horses are getting killed and lamed every day.'

The East Mines

The dramatic remains of the Rosedale East Mines, which opened in 1865, can be seen during much of the walk. They are a testament to the size of the mining operations. The long range of huge arches is the remains of the calcining kilns, where the ironstone was roasted to eliminate impurities and reduce its weight. They operated until 1879, when the owner, the Rosedale and Ferryhill Mining Company, collapsed, but resumed in 1881. The West Mines across the valley had stopped work by 1890, but the East Mines struggled on, burdened by rising costs, until the General Strike of 1926 killed them off.

The iron way

The iron ore from Rosedale was taken by rail over the moorland to Ingleby, where it was lowered down the northern edge of the moors by tramway on the 1-in-5 gradient Ingleby Incline. The line had reached Rosedale in 1861, and the branch to the East Mines was opened in 1865. As many as 15 loaded wagons at a time were steam-hauled round the top of Rosedale. The line closed in September 1928, and the last load was hauled down Ingleby Incline in June 1929. The track bed is now open to walkers.

The vanished chimney

For more than a century the village of Rosedale Abbey was dominated by an industrial chimney, more than 100ft (30m) tall. One of the steepest public roads in the country went past it to reach the heights of Spaunton Moor. The road is still there but the chimney was demolished in 1972, a victim of the inability to raise the £6,000 needed to preserve it.

Walk directions

From the car park turn right, cross the green past the Abbey Stores and bear right. Take a path left, signed ‘Dann Carr Bridge’. Go through a kissing gate and cross a path.  At the open ground bear right to a footbridge at the field corner. Go up steps and through a gate, to follow the path across the field to a kissing gate onto a road. Turn right.  

Turn left through a gate at a ‘Thorgill’ sign. Follow the waymarked path through five gates to a road. Turn left and walk past the houses. When the metalled lane ends, go ahead on the track. Go through a gate and straight on; 100yds (91m) beyond another gate, approaching High House Farm, bear right on a waymarked track, going right of the buildings though two gateways.  

Where the track splits, take the upper track, with the wall to your left. Before a crossing wall, bear right over a footbridge and a stile. Go straight on, through the right of two gateways, over two stiles and though two gates, then through another gate left of the farmhouse. Bend right, behind the farm, then follow the track when it bends left. By the next farm turn right, though a gate. Go downhill to cross a gated footbridge in woodland.

Climb to the field, then bear left to a gate and along the ridge to another gate onto a lane. Turn left. By Dale Head farmhouse turn right by a painted sign ‘Fryup’. Go through a gate and follow the track uphill in a sunken lane. After a gate, bear right and climb to reach the former railway line embankment.  

Turn right and follow the track for 1.5miles (2.4km), eventually bending to a track and going through a gate near buildings. Go down the track, cross a road and continue ahead. After a kissing gate turn right; after another gate, the path bends right again. Go across fields, through three gates. Cross a footbridge with a stile at the end, and across the next field.  

Turn left just before a metal footbridge. Go through a gateway. After the next kissing gate, turn left and then bear right on the track. Where it bends left, go right through a gate. Follow the waymarked path through two gates, along a boardwalk and up steps. Follow the path through two more gates and on to a road. Go ahead, pass the children’s playground and turn left by a bench. Go over a stone stile and turn right along the road back to the start.

Additional information

Mostly field paths and tracks, 5 stiles

Quiet valley and hillside farmland, with reminders of the iron industry

Dogs should be on lead

AA Walker's Map 19 North York Moors (western)

Rosedale Abbey car park, signed from green

Rosedale Abbey

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About the area

Discover North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire, with its two National Parks and two designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is England’s largest county and one of the most rural. This is prime walking country, from the heather-clad heights of the North York Moors to the limestone country that is so typical of the Yorkshire Dales – a place of contrasts and discoveries, of history and legend.

The coastline offers its own treasures, from the fishing villages of Staithes and Robin Hood Bay to Scarborough, one time Regency spa and Victorian bathing resort. In the 1890s, the quaint but bustling town of Whitby provided inspiration for Bram Stoker, who set much of his novel, Dracula, in the town. Wizarding enthusiasts head to the village of Goathland, which is the setting for the Hogwarts Express stop at Hogsmeade station in the Harry Potter films.

York is a city of immense historical significance. It was capital of the British province under the Romans in AD 71, a Viking settlement in the 10th century, and in the Middle Ages its prosperity depended on the wool trade. Its city walls date from the 14th century and are among the finest in Europe. However, the gothic Minster, built between 1220 and 1470, is York’s crowning glory.