Go now, before April ends to see wild daffodils in full bloom at Farndale. There’s no actual village at Farndale, just a community of scattered farms and three hamlets – Lowna, Low Mills and Church Houses. It consists of a long, narrow dale in the moors, north of Kirbymoorside where wild daffodils stretch for about five miles along the banks of the River Dove.
The daffy season is a short one, between March and May attracting visitors from far and wide.
It’s believed that the monks of Rievaulx may have planted them during their travels, or possibly Nicholas Postgate, the Egton Bridge martyr may have introduced them to Farndale.
The area was made a nature reserve in 1953 and is protected by law. No picking or removal of plants is allowed. Access from Hutton-le-Hole is by following the road north-west to park at Low Mill.
Start from the car park (small fee), and public conveniences are nearby. The North York Moors National Park have a stand here.
Leaving the car park, observe a sign indicating the public footpath to High Mill. A firm, clearly demarcated route with about 18 gates crosses sheep pasture. Please close the gates after use, and leash any dogs.
Enter the handgate and cross the River Dove. A second handgate guides you on your way. Just relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the countryside. Blakey Ridge rises to the east horizon.
At about the 17th gate you’re nearing the Daffy Caffy. Cross a field and pass through an open gateway to a second field. Flagstones and a stream feature to a third field, more flagstones and a gate.
Just ahead is the Daffy Caffy tea rooms at High Mill.
During the daffodil season, this cafe is usually open from 9am-5pm. Feeling refreshed, continue ahead to the hamlet of Church Houses, meeting the road near the Feversham Arms Inn.
Turn right at the inn and walk along the lower lane, not Long Lane, to pass stone-built cottages. Keep to this single-track lane, gradually ascending for half a mile.
Shortly, see to your left, set back from the road, the little church of St Mary. Do visit and admire more wild daffodils.
Just beyond the church is the Old School, and then to your right, a short ascent leads to Mackeridge House. At the end of a brief section of stone-walling, reach a public footpath sign. Here, leave the lane and take the footpath along the edge of a field beside left walling.
About 100 metres ahead turn left to cross the wall, using the step ladder. Hedging is to the right of the field as you proceed to Bragg House Farm.
Keep the farm on your right and pass through any gates to a broad track. Seek the next footpath sign to bear right over a grassy field to Bitchagreen Farm.
Negotiate steps in the walling before continuing by the farmhouse to your right. Follow the yellow waymarker beyond a gate and over a meadow.
Next, take steps and stile into a further field to continue beside stone walling with farm buildings beyond. Mount the corner step ladder to negotiate the next field as arrowed. A farm is to your left.
At the far end take the farm gate beside a 3-finger post. Follow left hedging down the field. Leave the lower walling by an open gate into sheep pasture. Hedging is to the left.
At the end of this field, go left by an open, arrowed gate. Cross sheep pasture with hedged boundary to the right. In the lower corner, an arrowed field gate directs you onto a good track.
Hedged either side, the track meets a farm, with barns off left. Go straight ahead to a waymarked handgate. Keep straight forward across a broad green belt with walling to your right, and water course to your left.
Take the handgate, and a dry, leafy path continues as a footbridge over the stream.
Keep directly ahead. Cross a field beset with flagstones, and pass a mature tree.
Here, a well-worn footpath leads to a fieldgate. Go forward over a wooden footbridge and up the well-used familiar footpath to return to Low Mill.
NB The 1.5 mile route just to the Daffy Caffy is good, level walking. You may return the same way, making 3 miles in total.
If you choose to return via Church Houses and farmland, there are a few step-stiles and step ladders to negotiate.
Distance of cross country circular route: 3.5 miles approximately.
Refreshment: The Daffy Caffy in Farndale. Also Feversham Arms Inn, Church Houses.