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Visit Ryedale: Helmsley Discovery Trail

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Visit Ryedale: Helmsley Discovery Trail
Author: VisitRyedale, Published: 20 Apr 2016 Walk rating : Rating:star0 Visit Ryedale: Helmsley Discovery Trail Walking Guiestar0 Visit Ryedale: Helmsley Discovery Trail Walking Guiestar0 Visit Ryedale: Helmsley Discovery Trail Walking Guiestar0 Visit Ryedale: Helmsley Discovery Trail Walking Guiestar0 Visit Ryedale: Helmsley Discovery Trail Walking Guie
North Yorkshire, Ryedale
Walk Type: Town or city
Visit Ryedale: Helmsley Discovery Trail
Length: 1 miles,  Difficulty: boot Visit Ryedale: Helmsley Discovery Trail Walking Guie
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A 1.2 mile (2km) easy access circular trail around the market town of Helmsley in Ryedale. The route discovers several of the town’s key attractions including the bustling Market Place, the pretty beck, the imposing castle, the magnificent walled gardens and a short stretch of the Cleveland Way. This walk is part of the Visit Ryedale Collection, published through a collaboration between iFootpath and Ryedale District Council. For more visitor information on the area including events and accommodation, go to

The walk follows generous width tarmac or paved surfaces for the most part, with one stretch along an uneven compacted stone track (although this can be excluded if necessary). The route is mainly level with a couple of gentle slopes. There are no stiles, kissing gates or steps on route. With this in mind, the entire route would be suitable for a rugged pushchair or disability buggy. If the uneven stone track section is excluded, the route would be suitable for a wheelchair. Allow 1 hour.

There are public toilets close to the Market Place at the start of the walk. If you are looking for refreshments, the Walled Garden (waypoint 3) has a cafe open to the public and you will be spoilt for choice with pubs, cafes and restaurants in Helmsley at the start or end of the walk. OS Map: Explorer OL26 North York Moors Western Area. This walk follows public footpaths and bridleways which cross private and public land. Please respect people’s privacy, keep dogs under control and remember the Countryside Code.

Helmsley is located on the River Rye, on the A170 between Thirsk and Pickering. The walk starts and finishes in the Market Place in the centre of Helmsley. If you are coming by car, short stay parking is available in the Market Place or long stay parking is available in the Cleveland Way Car Park. The fee for up to 6 hours is £4.30 (correct Apr 2016) or half price if you use a Ryedale Parking Smartcard. Approximate post code YO62 5AT. From the long stay car park, simply follow the signs to the Market Place. If you are coming by public transport alight at the bus stops in Market Place. For help with planning your journey by public transport please visit

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Walk Sections

Start to Castlegate
Start to Castlegate

Start point: 54.2461 lat, -1.0616 long
End point: 54.2451 lat, -1.0607 long

The walk begins in the Market Place, directly outside the library and town hall. Helmsley was already an important market town by the 1100s so it has had plenty of time to perfect the Market Place. Within Helmsley you can still buy your bread from a baker, meat from a butcher, fish from a fishmonger and even handcrafted candlesticks from a blacksmith. A bustling weekly market takes places here every Friday. In the centre of the Market Place you will see a statue of William Duncombe, a former lord of the manor based at nearby Duncombe Park.

Standing with your back to the library, turn right passing The Royal Oak on your right and then continue directly ahead into the start of Borogate. This is one of the main shopping streets in Helmsley, teeming with interesting and unique stores, galleries and boutiques. In 2015, Helmsley was crowned the best market town high street in Britain.

A few paces along you will pass the public toilets on your right. Immediately afterwards, turn right into Barkers Yard and follow this paved shopping area as it swings left and left again, passing more charming retail outlets. Turn right to continue on Borogate for a few paces and you will come to a T-junction with the road, Bridge Street.

Just opposite (to your left) you will see the entrance for Helmsley Arts Centre should you wish to explore this. Otherwise turn right and then follow the pavement as it swings right into Buckingham Square. On the right is an old bank, now converted to a house, and across to the left is Helmsley Brewing Co. Stay with the pavement as it swings right into Castlegate.

Castlegate to Castle Entrance
Castlegate to Castle Entrance

Start point: 54.2451 lat, -1.0607 long
End point: 54.246 lat, -1.0638 long

Follow this pavement, with the pretty beck, Borobeck, running on your right. The grass banks of this stream are awash with yellow daffodils in the spring months. Borobeck runs its narrow course through the western edge of the town, partly underground, before it joins the River Rye near the river bridge to the south.

When you reach the stone bridge ahead, cross the main road diagonally left (taking care of traffic) and turn left into the tarmac walkway which leads you directly towards the ruins of the castle keep. Walk ahead towards the keep, which provides quite a spectacle. Helmsley is one of only 17 towns named on the Magna Carta. For 500 years Helmsley Castle was the fortified home of the lord of the manor of Helmsley. A natural outcrop of rock to the west of the town provided a strategic position for the building of Helmsley Castle, a medieval ruin with Tudor manor built by Robert de Ros in the 12th century. In 1711 the castle was inherited by Thomas Brown. He changed his name to Thomas Duncombe and commissioned the building of a country house behind the castle, Duncombe Park. The castle was left to ruin and is now in the care of English Heritage.

At the end of the tarmac walkway, turn right (signed to the car park) and follow the tarmac walkway as it winds alongside the castle boundary wall on your left. Just 60 metres later, bear left to reach the entrance for the castle on your left. Entrance fees apply, but take time to explore the castle grounds should you wish.

Castle Entrance to Walled Garden
Castle Entrance to Walled Garden

Start point: 54.246 lat, -1.0638 long
End point: 54.245 lat, -1.0672 long

Beyond the castle entrance, bear left again to join the paved walkway with the car park across to your right and the castle grounds on your left. Stay with this paved path as it winds through a picnic area and, just before you reach the coach park, turn left along another branch of paved path. This leads you into the car park for Helmsley Walled Garden. Cross the car park diagonally left and pick up the next stretch of tarmac path which winds through a second picnic area. At this point you will have great views across to your left of the castle and keep remains.

At the end of the path you will emerge to a junction with a vehicle lane. Turn left and follow the path as it swings right, passing a row of shops set within the low stone buildings on your left. You will reach the entrance for Helmsley Walled Garden on your left. The five-acre garden is open April to October and entrance to the cafe and plant centre is free. Entrance fees apply for the gardens themselves, so explore should you wish. Dogs are welcome on leads, the garden is all on one level and is almost completely step free. The garden was originally built in 1759 to supply the Duncombe Estate with fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. It was abandoned in the 1970s but extensive restoration has brought it back to life. Visitors can now enjoy restored glasshouses full of colour, a double herbaceous Hot Border running the length of the garden or sit and enjoy the tranquillity of the Garden of Contemplation.

Walled Garden to View Point
Walled Garden to View Point

Start point: 54.245 lat, -1.0672 long
End point: 54.2457 lat, -1.0707 long

If your access requirements mean that you reliant on a level paved surface, now is the time to turn round and retrace your steps back into Helmsley. However, if you are able to manage the uneven stone tracks in the next section, follow the directions here. Standing with your back to the Walled Garden entrance, walk ahead through the vehicle exit gate and turn right along the stone track passing the horse paddocks of Helmsley Riding School on your left.

Follow this lane as it swings left and continue to the T-junction at the end, marked with a sign for the Cleveland Way. Turn left and follow the uneven stone track steadily uphill. At the top you will come to a field gate and kissing gate ahead. You will have lovely views across the sheep pastures ahead and across Duncombe Park to the left. Turn round and look back the way you came, and through the gaps in the trees you will have views back across the Helmsley skyline. (If you are able to negotiate the kissing gate it is worth doing this and walking ahead a little further where the views are even better).

View Point to End
View Point to End

Start point: 54.2457 lat, -1.0707 long
End point: 54.2465 lat, -1.0619 long

When you are ready to continue, retrace your steps back down the stone track. Keep ahead at the junction, but a few paces later take a moment to glance over your right shoulder up into the parkland where you should be able to see the open domed structure, the Ionic Temple, sitting high on the hill in Duncombe Park.

Continue down the stone track. Just before the car park on your right you will pass a large stone marker on your right. This stone marker, which includes a carved acorn symbol, marks the starting point of The Cleveland Way long distance path. The path runs 110 miles from Helmsley to Filey, skirting the North York Moors. It is one of the 16 National Trails in England and Wales, each one marked by an acorn symbol along the route.

Follow the road ahead, joining the right hand pavement (there is a drop kerb by the toilets in the car park). At the T-junction, glance to your left where you will see another pretty stretch of Borobeck. Turn right along the pavement and follow this passing 12th Century All Saints Church across to your left. The church is open every day with wall frescoes, historic stained glass and Mouseman carved mice to spot.

As you draw level with 14 Church Street, use the designated drop kerbs to swap to the left-hand pavement. Follow this pavement as it swings left passing the lych gate of the church. You will emerge back to the Market Place where the walk began. Helmsley has plenty on offer to while away the rest of your day, with everything you'd expect in a quintessentially English market town and more: a vibrant market square, independent, specialist shops, excellent places to eat and drink, an imposing castle, friendly locals, a babbling brook, a walled garden, bird of prey centre, microbrewery, open air swimming pool and more than 50 listed buildings. For more visitor information on the area including events and accommodation, go to

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 by the author visitryedale and may not be reproduced without permission.

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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