Yesterday we did a five mile walk from Blakey Junction round the track of the old Rosedale railway at the head of Rosedale, to Dale Head farm.

The excuse was to see the moors in all their glory with the heather in bloom, but I reckon we were about a week too early. There were a few plants in flower, but most were still yet to burst.

Here are the girls at the start of the walk on the railway track next to the Lion Inn.

The first thing we spotted was a baby mouse, out in the open in broad day-light. Kestrel fodder I fancy.

The ditches were full of lovely mosses, such as this Polytrichum.

Marsh thistles were a feature of the walk, including both pink and white forms.

Three species of heather were in flower: ling, cross leaved heath, and bell.

We had lunch in a dell at the head of the dale.

Despite the cloud, the views were always fine.

The walk now entered a rockier section. Amongst these rocks were lots and lots of meadow pipits, and several family parties of wheatears.

I know that ring ouzels breed in rosedale, so I kept my eyes open for them, but no luck. We reached an embankment after which our route headed downhill into the more pastoral setting of the dale.

Low and behold, the sun emerged and started us sweating. It was hard work after three miles to tramp up the side of the dale again.

But the views were rewarding.

Then it was a short tramp back along the railway track to the starting point.

Encouraged by the sun, a couple of small heath butterflies were flying.

As we reached the car park I spotted a new bumblebee species, the heathland specialist Bombus monticola.

So, despite the disappointment of missing the heather in full bloom, a rewarding but tiring outing.

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