Rosedale Abbey is the only sizable village to be found in the central dales of the North York Moors, with most villages in this area being strung out along the Tabular Hills. The village is build around a series of open green spaces, which tend to make it feel bigger than it actually is.
The "abbey" was actually a Cistercian nunnery, founded in 1158 by William of Rosedale. This was a small establishment, with at most nine nuns and a prioress at any one time, but it survived for nearly four centuries before it was dissolved in 1535. Most of the building stone was used during the iron mining boom of the nineteenth century, but one tower can still be seen just outside the west door of the current church.
For much of its history Rosedale has been associated with the iron industry. Byland Abbey made iron in the valley from the mid 13th to early 16th centuries, but the main boom began in the middle of the 19th century, when it was discovered that the iron ore in the valley was 45% iron, higher than most of the iron ore found on the moors. Between 1850 and 1870 the population of the valley doubled, and at their peak the mines employed 5,000 people.
Although the mines had been shut for many years, large industrial ruins still line the valley. The most scenic is the line of the Rosedale Railway. The first part of this line was build in 1861, to carry the iron ore from Rosedale West around Farndale and down onto the Cleveland plains, while the eastern branch was added in 1865. The route of the railway can now be followed on foot all the way round Rosedale and across the top of Farndale, eventually reaching the plains on the dramatic Greenhow incline.
Grid Reference: SE 724 959
Our walk SE7296/01: Rosedale on the railway starts in the village
Rosedale Abbey is on Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL26 (North Yorks Moors Western Area)