GEORGE WILKINSON braves a Russian wind to visit Low Mill in Farndale.

LOW MILL, in Farndale, at Easter, should, by rights, have been buzzing with visitors to the wild daffodils. But few had come and the only yellow was in the traffic cones.

At the North York Moors National Park’s display caravan, the wardens speculated on the shortening of the flowering season. A car park warden predicted, rather bravely, a two-week wait for the flowers, and, if he is right, you might usefully catch the Farndale Shuttle Bus that runs on Sundays to until April 14.

We did not hang around in the cold, dry Russian air and left the hamlet for the path by the River Dove which ran peacefully, sparking and pure. Birds sang brightly. Every now and then there would be a couple walking, brisk and quiet, and not a child all day.

Snow glinted on the hilltops and a pond was glazed with ice. The valley was holding on to many winter colours, nature reserve hues, the grass a dull green, with fresh snowdrops under the bare trees, and everywhere the stiff, grey-green, inch-or-two spears of daffodils.

Further along the path they were bigger, with leaves, but with only with a hint of yellow showing through the sheath of the bud, and only on a plant here and there. I asked a warden what was eating the garlic; he said it was thought to be deer.

At the High Mill, the Daffy Caffy was quiet and at Church Houses so was the Feversham Arms. Indeed the sum of activity was a man who tended his garden, plus one motorist who stopped to ask the way to the church.

The back road past the church made for easy climbing for us; further up this becomes the super-steep Blakey Bank.

But we turned off well before that and set off across the pastures, where there were ribbons of snow in the shadow of the dry stone walls. The views were long and fine, up and down the valley. We heard, we thought, the long distance hammering of the woodpecker we’d heard in Church Houses.

Next comes a gradual descent and, along the way, a few farms and also three walkers, a flock of sheep and a local who counted the cost of the failed flowers, to the tune of a cancelled bric-a-brac stall, and silenced busking among the daffodils, it was too cold for the cello too.

An old stone paved trod runs down the last pasture into Low Mill. There were a few dozen cars by now, and the idea circulating that the West Riding contingent, reliable daffodil fans, had been stymied or traumatised by their snow.


When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.

1 From car park at Low Mill, right to road and immediately gate on right (signs), path downhill, gated footbridge and surfaced riverside path for over a mile with 14 small gates and 3 footbridges. From High Mill, track to Church Houses.

2 On to road at Church Houses, curve right to pass Feversham Arms, first road right (sign Hutton-le-Hole 6), uphill.

3Pass house on right, 50 yards fieldgate (fingerpost) on right into field, by wall to left, 100 yards, ladderstile on left (fingerpost), across field, fieldgate (waymark).

4 Straight across farmyard on track (fingerpost), fieldgate, leave farmyard (fingerpost), 100 yards, leave track (fingerpost) and 1 o’clock across field.

5 Wall stile into farmyard (fingerpost/waymark), cross yard, fieldgate out of yard (waymark), stile (waymark), pass cottage, stile and diagonally across field to fieldgate (fingerpost), downhill by hedge, fieldgate, downhill by hedge.

6 Fieldgate in corner (waymark), by hedge to your right, fieldgate (waymark), track, gate/fieldgate into farmyard, fieldgate (waymark) in yard.

7 Gate on right between barns and out of farmyard (waymark/fingerpost), downhill by wall, gate (waymark), trees, gate (waymark), diagonally across field, some stone flags, to footbridge on outward route.

Fact file

Distance: Four miles.

General location: North York Moors.

Start: Low Mill, Farndale.

Right of way: Public paths.

Date walked: March 2013.

Road route: Consider the Farndale Shuttle Bus.

Car parking: Temporary field at Low Mill, £2.

Lavatories: Low Mill.

Refreshments: The Daffy Caffy at High Mill and the Feversham Arms at Church Houses.

Tourist and Farndale Shuttle Bus information: Helmsley TIC 01439 770173, Moors Bus 01845 597000. Map: Drawn from OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors western area.

Terrain: Riverside and uplands.

Difficulty: Quite easy.

Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.