North York Moors Walks
Rudland Rigg & Farndale
Date: 29th March 2014
Distance: 9.6 miles
Time: 5 hours 20 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE675927
A walk along the long moorland ridge of Rudland Rigg before dropping down in to Farndale to see the famous wild daffodils.
Route Summary: Harland Moor - Rudland Rigg - Dickon Howe - Monket House - High Mill - Low Mill - Mill Lane - Petergate - Harland Moor
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: Ever since hearing about the wild daffodils of Farndale a few years ago I'd been meaning to do this walk. Unfortunately, due to the short daffodil flowering season you have to time the walk right and the last couple of years I just hadn't had the opportunity to go at the right time. Mindful that given the popularity of the area and that car parking space at Low Mill was limited I'd decided a while back to combine the relatively short daffodil walk with a longer route to incorporate the trig point on Rudland Rigg. This allowed me to make use of the large parking area on the edge of Harland Moor a mile or so south of Low Mill.
The forecast was for a cloudy morning with blue skies and hazy sunshine from midday onwards. This proved to be somewhat optimistic and much of the North York Moors was covered in a thick fog as I drove over Sutton Bank and headed for Farndale. Given such conditions I would ordinarily have headed down into Farndale hoping the weather would improve by the time I got on to Rudland Rigg. However, I'd not driven all that way to see daffodils shrouded in the fog so from the parking area I set off on the track heading away up on to the moor leaving the low level section of the walk for the afternoon.
Thanks to some fairly clear tracks navigation was simple despite the fog. While it is always preferable to be able to enjoy a view while striding along a nice moorland track there is something uniquely atmospheric about being alone on a moor in such conditions. Of course I was not really alone and this early part of the walk was accompanied to a soundtrack of moorland birds with curlew, lapwings, pipits, skylarks, plovers and the ubiquitous grouse all making a contribution.
Upon reaching the wide track of Westside Road it was a straightforward walk north to the trig point. As I wanted to give the weather as much chance as it could to clear I dallied a little bit trying to take close up photos, with varying degrees of success, of some of the moorland heather. I also left the path briefly to explore a surprisingly stony area near a lot of heathery mounds that looked like many of the tumuli to be found on the moors in these parts but were unmarked on my map.
My Fabian tactics seemed to have worked as I approached the trig point and the sun made its first appearance as the fog began to clear. Unfortunately the fog lifted to reveal a very thick haze. Not only were long distance views out of the question but such was the poor quality of visibility that when I began to descend into Farndale I could barely make out one side of the valley from the other. This was a real shame as the views of the valley from near the quarried slopes above Monket House Crags would have been superb.
I still wasn't too downhearted however as at least the sun was out and I still had the daffodils to see. Dropping down to the river from Daleside Road the first daffodils I encountered were on the west bank of the River Dove by the footbridge just upstream from High Mill. This turned out to be one of the best patches of daffodils on the walk that you could get up close to - as I was to find out on the mile and a quarter walk downstream to Low Mill most of the daffodils were on the opposite bank to the popular path between High Mill and Low Mill.
Although they were clearly not all flowering there were still fewer daffodils than I expected and when I arrived at Low Mill I got talking to someone from the North York Moors National Park who told me that there had not been as many the last couple of years and that currently the best places to see them were in the churchyard of Church Houses and much further south in the valley near Birch Hagg House. Unfortunately both of these were well off my route (maybe I'll check them out next year).
From the road above Low Mill I took a path leading up through a small plantation to join a path slanting back up on to the moor, passing along the way the remains of a small quarry and a particularly well built cairn that does not appear on the map. Once again, had it not been for the thick haze I would have had some wonderful views of Farndale. Once back up on the moor it was then a short walk to rejoin the track I'd started on and return to the car.
Although the quantity of daffodils did not quite live up to my expectations and despite the fog and haze it was nice to finally do this walk. From what I could see of it Farndale looked a beautiful valley with a lot more to offer than just the daffodils and I definitely plan on going back again in the future to explore more of the valley.