GEORGE WILKINSON stages a moorland walk in three acts.

THE moors are starting to purple. But perhaps more than ever there are many moorland paths overgrown with the heather. I spent the best part of a wasted day last week to the north of Danby Beacon. This makes one more cautious, more likely to stick to safe routes such as the well trod Cleveland Way, or big open access areas where one is confident one can use the shooters' tracks, namely Barden Moor in the Dales and Bransdale on the North York Moors.

It's Bransdale this week, safe as regards access but not dull, this is a walk of three good acts.

We started in Farndale, at the pretty hamlet of Low Mill, which is heaving at daffodil time but was quiet but for a pair of other walkers. Act one is the climbing of the steep west side of the valley, which involves a short length of road with a house of tin and one of thatch, a pasture or two, a band of woodland and then a leg-saving and lovely angled sunken path.

This brings you out at picturesque quarry remnants and the heather on the tops. The views are very beautiful, of the smooth wide southern length of Farndale, and the more complex forked northern end.

Less than a mile to the west lies the famous and ancient Rudland Rigg track. This is aligned north/south and can be intercepted at various angles. If you go due west to meet it you pass through the shallow bell pits of the eighteenth-century coal mines, I did this for the Evening Press in December 1998. We decided to swing south-west on an old quarry track. Then we joined a shooters' track and then met Rudland Rigg, acquiring on route the views over Ryedale.

Act two is a trek up the track. A two and a half mile pounding of the sandstone with the heather often over head height either side, a narrow view up front, and eventually sight half a mile away of the trig point at 1234ft. This was our sandwich stop, a grand spot.

Exactly a mile more on the track, over Golden Heights, brought us to the last act, and the only time we encountered other players, two cyclists and half a dozen walkers. The descent down West Gill and back into Farndale is as nicely shaped as any part of the route.

We passed the most wonderfully invisible grouse butts buried in bilberries and discussed when the heather would be at its best. The third week in August was the consensus, but choose fine weather above all for this walk.

Fact file:

Distance: Nearly seven miles.

Time: Four hours.

General location: North York Moors.

Start: The hamlet of Low Mill, Farndale.

Right of way: The complete route is along public rights of way, and in Bransdale Moor/Nawton Towers Open Access Area.

Date walked: Sunday, August 4, 2002.

Road route: Via Gillamoor, Hutton-le-Hole or Fadmoor.

Car parking: Small free carpark at Low Mill, this would be okay on weekdays. At weekends to avoid congestion in Farndale use the alternative start, verge at GR. 659925 in Bransdale.

Lavatories: Low Mill carpark.

Refreshments: None.

Tourist & public transport information: Helmsley TIC 01439 770173.

Map: Based on OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors western area.

Terrain: Valley sides and moorland top.

Points of interest: The village hall at Low Mill is a charming music venue.

Difficulty: Sometimes steep 800ft climb, take OS map and a compass. One gully could be thought somewhat dicey.

Dogs: Suitable.

Weather forecast: Evening Press and recorded forecast 0891 500 418

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


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

1 Left from car park to road, over beck then right on road uphill.

2 Stile at corner into garden (sign) and uphill (or, less intrusively, nip round road as on map). Cross lane at house to fieldgate (signed), 1 o'clock, fieldgate into wood, path.

3 Stile/fieldgate out of wood and left to path diagonally uphill. Pass large quarry on right near top, 100 yards, right 20 yards, left 20 yards and join path/track crossing moor. Feeds left into another track.

4 Right to track by field at three conifer trees.

5 Right to stone track (Rudland Rigg). Pass Trig point, another mile.

6 Right at tracks crossroads (100 yards before twisted bridleway sign), wooden sign after 50 yards. At Grouse Butt 6 the route forks but soon rejoins.

7 At cairn, where the stone wall of a field appears 100 yards to left, fork right to path which maintains height (cairns) for a few hundred yards. Take care at shale gully.

8 Path descends to fieldgate into field (signed), 100 yards, left down to stile/fieldgate and right to bridge over West Gill Beck. Right to track, gates, pass barns, through yard to stone track, right to road.

Click here to view a map of the walk

Updated: 08:50 Saturday, August 10, 2002