Helmsley to Rievaulx

This route stars in the Yorkshire village of Helmsley and passes many interesting sights such as the ruins of Helmsley castle, the grounds of Duncombe house, Rievaulx abbey and several follies.

Circular  |  11km (6.9 miles)   |  Difficulty: Easy

Please note that the route given is a rough guide and should not be relied upon solely when planning a walk. Remember to plan ahead, get a proper map and ensure you have the right equipment.

The majority of this route sits on the Cleveland Way so it is well maintained.  This is a great track and despite a few brief uphill sections when scaling the edges of valleys is a very undemanding walk.

1: Parking in Helmsley can be troublesome as its a popular tourist spot.  However, the village is relatively small so no matter where walkers have to park it won’t add too much to the walk’s distance.  The route starts by passing by the ruins of Helmsley castle.  Along this section of the walk, looking past the castle towards the Duncombe house estate allows walkers to view the first of several follies along the walk.  The path along this stage is a straight and easy bridleway.

2: The path up until this point has a slight gradient.  Once walkers reach the point where the path takes a corner they can look back and view the remains of Helmsley Castle with the backdrop of Helmsley village.  From here the path goes downhill and then follows the tree line.

3: The path then drops further into the wooded area.  The route follows an old wall and goes across a dried up river bed which can be incredibly muddy.  From here the path heads up hill again, out of the woods and follows along the edges of several fields.

4: The path eventually reaches the old guard house of the estate.  Here walkers have a choice of carrying out the rest of the walk clockwise or anti-clockwise. Following the route clockwise leads walkers further downhill towards the River Derwent.

5: Eventually the route reaches a road where the path ends.  The trail heads to the left and follows this road down to the river.

6: The road eventually reaches a bridge over the river.  The route does not cross the bridge however and instead bears right and follows the Derwent up river.

7: The route now brings walkers towards the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey.  Along this section there are some great views of the abbey.  Walkers can also see a second folly, known as The Ionian Temple, on top the hill behind the abbey.  There’s a chance to stop off at the visitor centre here for a drink or to have a look around the ruins.  From here the route follows the road up hill through the village of Rievaulx.

8: Along this section walkers can look back down on the abbey for one last look before the route leads into the trees.  The path veers off the road and winds up hill to the car park for visitors to the The Ionian Temple and Rievaulx terrace.  The path leads out of the carpark towards the main road.

9: Instead of following the road into Helmsley though there is a path to the right which follows it for some distance in the neighbouring fields.  This path then veers right at a copse of trees and heads towards another road.

10: Upon reaching the road the route crosses straight over it and follows a farm drive almost to the farmyard.  Before reaching the yard the route heads right and loops around the farm houses.  The route is signposted, though the markers are sparse.  Eventually it will lead walkers back to the guardhouse.  From here walkers can follow the first section of the route back to Helmsley.

One of the amazing view we were offered was several aircraft flying overhead to a nearby air show.  Walkers will often be able see aircraft flying along the Derwent valley for training.  The route was originally intended to pass near Duncombe house for the last stage instead of retreading the first section.  For this version of the walk the route the route back would cross itself when it reaches the guard house and would follow the road toward Duncombe house.  However, this section is shut at certain times of year so it has been omitted.

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