Days out: the Farndale daffodil walk

10 May 2013 @ 4.32 pm
| Entertainment

The mini daffs at Farndale, more Kylie than Keira. Photographs: YorkMix
The mini daffs at Farndale, more Kylie than Keira. Photographs: YorkMix
It’s a classic, and thanks to this year’s late spring, it’s still going strong. Chris Titley and family head along the daffy trail

Daffodils are an unsung flower, except by the Welsh and they will sing about anything. For a brief moment we welcome them as nature’s roadside beacons, lighting our way out of the dark winter. Then we turn away from their droopy demise, distracted by the altogether showier spring blossom.

So the daff is largely uncelebrated. Except in Farndale. This is Yorkshire’s daffodil capital. Each spring countless walkers head to this gentle valley as it is carpeted in yellow.

It is a favourite walk in our family and a return was requested by our youngest, Mia. Heading across last Sunday, we had left it late. But then so had the spring, and notices pinned to gates revealed that the Daffy Café was staying open later because of the delayed blooms.

The great thing about the Farndale walk is its simplicity. Pretty much anyone can do it. The paths are mostly level, there are gates rather than stiles and aside for two short, sharp slopes, little climbing is involved – unless you fancy striding up the hills. We saw many couples happily wheeling toddlers along in their buggies.

There were plenty of daffs to enjoy – the smaller, tidier variety rather than those lanky ones. Think Kylie rather than Keira. In fact, the daffs are Farndale’s loss leader: they lure you in and then you are hooked by the other treats on offer.

Lambs explore on the banks of the River Dove
Lambs explore on the banks of the River Dove
Not quite Niagara, but still nice
Not quite Niagara, but still nice
Rest-stop: the Daffy Café
Rest-stop: the Daffy Café
Here's looking at you, Farndale
Here’s looking at you, Farndale

Farndale is lovely. On the river bank new born lambs forage and frolic and nearly fall in. Parts of the walk take you in among the sheep. Sometimes a nerveless lamb will approach, watched from a distance by his mother, chewing jaw stilled as she gives us ovine evils.

Birds flit over the bubbling River Dove and offer a constant soundtrack of song. There must be kingfishers here but the best I saw was a lapwing. At one point the water scoots over a small waterfall, but mostly the river is set to gurgling meander rather than headlong hurtle.

A smell of wild garlic helped to sharpen our appetites so the sight of the Daffy Café ahead was particularly welcome. The kids demolished an ice cream each while we toyed with a rather second-rate pot of tea. Luckily we had our own flask of coffee to turn to later in the walk.

There are two options after reaching the café – return along the same route or take a diversion over the hills. We chose the hill route and were rewarded with impressive views and close encounters with various farm animals, including a cow the size of a minibus. It was at this point that older brother told younger sister that more people were killed by cows each year than by snake bites, or some such inappropriate statistic.

In no time at all we were back at the grassy car park where the last of our picnic was consumed. Thanks for a fine day out, unsung daffodils, and see you next year.



Transport: By car it takes about an hour from York to Low Mill, Farndale
Parking: You can park at Low Mill car park all day for £2
Walk: About three miles there and back, along the River Dove and through wooded areas.
Difficulty: Easy. Two short sections of the path are paved with most of the remainder having an aggregate surface. Two short sections through the wooded areas are unsurfaced and can get muddy. There are also a couple of fairly steep slopes / hills so visitors using wheelchairs and similar should take care. More information here, and here’s a route you can follow.
Refreshments: At the Daffy Café. Pot of tea for one: £1.80. ’99’ ice cream cone with Flake: £1.80