Safety informationPlease note, you must keep your dog on a lead on the old railway track. Elsewhere, keep your dog under control at all times, and always on a lead near livestock – you’re likely to encounter farm animals on most of the lower parts of this walk.
Tips, hints and links
The moorland railway
Look for the line of the railway, which runs along the edge of the dale, high on the valley sides. It was an impressive feat of engineering, built in the 1860s and winding 14 miles over the moors, across difficult terrain, from Bank Top in Rosedale to Battersby Junction (near Great Ayton). At Rosedale, the railway branches into two levels – the upper line led to the mines above the kilns while the lower one (the one you walk on) served the kilns themselves. Once the iron ore had been processed, it was taken out of the valley by rail and on to County Durham and, later, Middlesbrough (with coal from County Durham coming the other way, to use in the kilns).
Mines, kilns and cottages
From 1855 until 1926 Rosedale rang with the sound of the Victorian industrial age. The valley was transformed with the opening of the ironstone mines, not least by the building of giant roasting kilns, where the miners roasted (or ‘calcined’) the iron ore to reduce its weight for transportation and remove impurities. Vast quantities of ore were tipped into the kilns from the railway line above, mixed with coal and then set alight. A huge workforce was needed and the population of Rosedale increased rapidly to nearly 3000 people – more than ten times what it is today. Terraced houses in the dale were built for the miners, while the railwaymen occupied homes closer to the mines – you can still see their ruined remains
Did you know? There’s no abbey in the village of Rosedale Abbey. It was actually a medieval Cistercian priory, which was pulled down in the 19th century – much of the stone was used to build the present church, which welcomes visitors.
Refreshments: There are three village pubs in Rosedale Abbey (Milburn Arms, Coach House Inn and White Horse Farm Inn) and two tea rooms around the green – one at the Abbey Stores village shop and also Graze on the Green. Halfway around the walk, Dale Head Farm Tea Garden is a welcome stop.
Tourist information: National Park Information Point in Abbey Stores village shop, Rosedale Abbey.
Terrain: The route follows minor roads and farm lanes at times, and passes through farmyards and outbuildings. There are lots of gates (and one stile) en route. On the return, please do not explore the ruined kiln buildings you pass on the track, as parts of this old industrial area are dangerous. Also note that the railway route is exposed, and it can be windy and cold in winter.
Great for: more than a stroll, big-sky views, history buffs
Time: 5 hours
Toilets: Rosedale Abbey village
Author’s map recommendations
Book recommendations for this region:
The Outdoor Leisure OS Map number 26 is recommended for this walk to accompany any mobile mapping