There’s a contented cheeriness about Helmsley. Whether that’s due to a strong community spirit, the beautiful historic surroundings or simply happy people, but the National Park’s only market town feels inviting as soon as you reach the impressive market square.
The old sandstone buildings add to the warm welcome as you begin ambling along the lanes branching out from the square where there are plenty of good independent shops, cafés and restaurants to tempt you in.
Cross the bridge over the river Rye and within minutes you’ll see the spectacular Medieval Castle standing on a grassy rise like a sentry guarding the town. In the shadow of the castle, but no less spectacular, is Helmsley Walled Garden, a sanctuary for anybody looking to escape everyday life.
If you want more peace then find the start of the 109-mile Cleveland Way National Trail and walk 3-miles through ancient woods and pastures to arrive at Rievaulx, where you can silently wander in awe looking at the stunning ruins of the Cistercian Abbey.
Also within striking distance of Helmsley is Duncombe Park, where you can walk through the parkland, much of which is a National Nature Reserve, home to many ancient trees and bird species, or visit the National Centre for Birds of Prey.
If all this isn’t enough, then travel eight miles westwards and you’ll reach the dramatic escarpment of Sutton Bank where you can drink in far-reaching views across the Vales of York and Mowbray.