Purple heather in flower on moorland
Woman holding large puff ball mushroom
Basket of apples on door step with sign to help yourself

1st September is officially the first day of Autumn if you follow the meteorological calendar. If you follow the astrological calendar, it’s 23rd  September. Given the summer we’ve had, we’re hoping for an Indian summer in September.

Whoever you follow, September is a lovely month in the North York Moors. The heather is still blooming purple on the moors, and the trees and hedges are starting to have that slight autumnal tint. As children head back to school, places that have been packed quieten.

It’s also a great time to forage. We aren’t experts but can spot sloes and puff ball mushrooms at 30 paces. Although the beauty that Jackie is holding was donated to us by a neighbour.

It’s a lovely time to explore some of the wonderful walks from the Long Barn.

We recommend these two favourite walks from the door at this time of year.

Purple moorland heather in distance with woodland in foreground
Stone cross with moorland in distance
Medieval stone church

Ana Cross – big skies, wonderful views and purple heather

This walk starts with a walk 2 miles north into Lastingham along the country lane from Appleton. As you head out of the village, you’ll be able to see a hint of the moorland purple heather on the horizon.

At Lastingham, turn tight at the Blacksmiths Arms and follow the signs for the Lastingham Grange Hotel.  Head up the hill past the Grange and you’ll find the footpath to Ana Cross sign posted. Our favourite route is right so that you take in the views and the cross on a 5-mile circular walk.

Look out for red grouse on the moors; you’ll probably hear their guttural call before you see them. They can suddenly rocket up from the heather flying off with fast whirring wing beats. If you’re lucky, you may spot a golden plover before they head out to the lowland fields.

Ana Cross is a medieval cross built on a prehistoric bronze age burial mound. It is the tallest cross on the North York Moors at 3 metres tall; it was once 8 metres high.

The Blacksmiths Arms is a great place for refreshments on the walk. We also recommend a look at St Mary’s church opposite the pub. If it’s open, take a look at the underground crypt which is thought to be the oldest Norman Crypt in the world, unaltered since Willian the Conqueror.

If you want to shorten the walk, drive to Lastingham and park on the road leading up to the Grange Hotel.

This walk is dog friendly with no stiles, but they should be kept on the lead on the moor. The Blacksmiths Arms welcomes dogs in their beer garden. Most of the seats at the rear of the pub are under cover.

Path through woodland
Sloes on a branch with green leaves
Woodland walk with path in sunshine

Sinnington – woodland walk and a picture-perfect village

This walk takes you through ancient woodland with views over the moors and the vale of Pickering.

You can break the journey in Sinnington at the Fox and Hounds for lunch or a pint. Or walk slightly out of Sinnington towards Friars Hill Farm to Pearson Soft Fruits, Strawberry Fields. Depending on the time of year, they sell delicious cakes and run a small café.

You can walk this walk in either direction; we tend to go clockwise via the woods near Appleton Mill and then walk back up from Sinnington via Bishop Hagg wood. There are a few climbs/descents, but you are rewarded with some great views. Look out for early sloes in the hedgerows. You are supposed to wait until the first frost before picking. We pick as soon as they are ripe and stash them in the freezer before steeping in gin and sugar.

The woods are lovely in September; look out for roe deer in the woods along with hare. You may also hear the sound of woodpeckers and the cry of buzzards overhead.

The route takes you alongside the river Seven where you should see ducks near the village and if you are very lucky, a king fisher.

Dog friendly (off lead in woods, but on lead through fields) The Fox and Hounds allows dogs in the bar and in the outside garden. There are several places towards Sinnington where dogs can easily get into the river for a paddle.

It’s almost 5 miles and should take you just under 2 hours.