George Wilkinson boards the bus for daffodil country

When I mentioned to a Farndale friend that I was going out for a walk in his valley he said without a smile 'daffodils are not the only flower'. Farndale sees 50,000 visitors over Easter, when the banks of the River Dove, but not the narrow roads, are yellow lined. The Daffodil Shuttle Bus prevents gridlock, please use it.

I usually miss the display and this year was no exception as we went up two weeks ago for a floral reconnaissance. Surprise View at Gillamoor was misty and mysterious, the little car park at Lowna nestled in the southern end of the valley was empty (this will not be the case over Easter) and we dawdled off for the daffs - and more, there is definitely more.

First pleasure came with a handsome riverside mill or farmstead, and here by the bridge persists a myth about a Lowna lady, which we couldn't remember. Then we took a track with the moors rising one side and views over Farndale of haze lifting through treetops.

We were just about to enter woods when a gang of motorcyclists chugged up. A gang is not fair, they were hardly a wild bunch, being easy riders from Oxfordshire astride quiet bikes with 'soft' engines. We were on a green lane. They professed to 'travel unnoticed' and indeed were soon out of sight and sound and we resumed the hunt for an open flower. Also there are birch, oak, pine, willow and alder, through which glinted the river.

Hardly five minutes into the woods and there was the first sheen of grey green leaves, but no yellow. We were not downhearted, the outlying groups of any plant 'community' tend to be abnormal. In no time at all, as we descended into damper riverside places, there were daffodils trumpets nearly fully formed and fit for a photo.

We had reached Birch Hagg House, an isolated picture postcard cottage, and by chance met on the bridge a couple of National Parks wardens with secateurs. We talked about country car crime, they were from Middlesbrough way and so mentioned predators from Leeds. The wardens thought the daffodils would be at their best a week into April, which puts me a week in advance (but it has been mild since then). We fished around in a rucksack and produced our plastic daffodil, they looked troubled, thinking perhaps I was out to con my readers - surely not. The motorbikes horrified them. They were also concerned that there might be floral incomers in Farndale (as in the Lakes), flash daffs rather than the wild narcissus pseudonarcissus.

There are two ways back. Either the high path that is dry and goes past a serene walled square of Quaker graveyard and provides a 50-yard overview of the flowers. Or the riverside path that is in parts very muddy and requires leaping strides over the boggiest bits. These are formed by seepages that support other lovely flowers for later in the year, so please do not leave the path and trample them.

Amazingly a motorcyclist, lost or loony, had ridden through the daffodils cutting a deep groove - a dark vision of anarchy machines.

We retired to the Royal Oak at Gillamoor, which has new owners, for a very good lunch. I would have read the newspaper article on the wall about the Lowna lass myth, however was too busy dolling out perfect chips to complement veg terrine and caesar salad. Folklore rather than myth perhaps as the headline read 'How Sarkless Kitty got her man', or was it plural? I am told a sark is a petticoat.

Fact file

Distance: One and a quarter miles.

Time: One hour.

General location: North York Moors National Park.

Start: Lowna.

Right of way: The complete route is along public rights of way.

Date walked: March 16 2002.

Road route: North from the A170. Moorsbus from York and elsewhere.

Car parking: Lowna car park will be full except perhaps evenings midweek. Take the Daffodil Shuttle Bus that goes from Hutton-le-Hole car park every 15 minutes from 9.30am to 5pm and costs £2.50. The Moorsbus starts on March 29, 2002, and is even better this year. The service runs on March 29, 30, and 31, and April 1, 7, 14, and 28, 2002.

Lavatories: Hutton-le-Hole car park.

Refreshments: Hutton-le-Hole.

Tourist and public transport information: Moorsbus info and free timetable from the Parks centre at Sutton Bank tel: 01845 597426 (includes discount vouchers for refreshments, open gardens etc.) or

Map: Based on brand new OS OL Explorer 26 North York Moors western area.

Terrain: Riverside.

Points of interest: Nature Reserve.

Difficulty: Easy, especially if you take the dry route.

Dogs: Suitable.

Weather forecast: Evening Press and recorded forecast 0891 500 418.


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

1. Leave bus at or near Lowna Bridge, take track upstream (from the sign about a £5 fine for picking daffodils), 200 yards, fork left (signed to Low Mill).

2. Bridge over River Dove immediately before Birch Hagg House and left to riverside path, wet. Or bridge over River Dove and right, 100 yards, left uphill, 100 yards, path on left (signed), dry.

3. Footbridge over side stream, uphill, car park.

4. Left to road.

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

Click here to view a map of the walk

Updated: 08:58 Saturday, March 30, 2002