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Yorkshire Helmsley to Rievaulx Walk

Rievaulx is one of the great ruined Yorkshire abbeys and popular with visitors. Set in the wooded Rye Valley a few miles for Helmsley, many visitors choose to walk rather than drive, as the car park for the abbey isn’t very big.

The walk is about 3 miles and follows the start of the Cleveland Way in Helmsley.

It is described as easy walking on paths, a few hills with some steps that aren't particularly challenging. That is true for the young and fit, but perceptions off ‘easy’ change with increasing years… It is possible to turn the walk into a circular one by walking up the hill at Rievaulx past Rievalux Terraces and dropping back down past Griff farm and the site of a deserted village, back onto the Cleveland Way.

It is a steady climb out of Helmsley. The track is wide but uneven underfoot, especially through the woods. At one point there is a steep dip with stone steps. These are uneven and of variable height. Anyone with mobility issues will have problems. I found them difficult even with the aid of poles. Going down was worse than going up, as a rucksack threw my weight forward. (They look easier in the photograph!)

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The use of the word ’easy’ is subjective and I must admit after the steps, I chickened out and decided to wait to be picked up at Rievaulx. I wasn’t the only one, as son in law and grandson 2 also decided to join me, leaving daughter and grandson 1 to walk back for the car.

There is long term parking in the large car park on Cleveland Way in Helmsley, just beyond the Ryeburn tea room and ice cream parlour. The road continues as an unmade track, the start of the Cleveland Way.

The track climbs up the hillside and runs along the side of pastureland.


There are good views back to Helmsley Castle and Walled Garden.



The footpath runs along the edge of the wonderfully named Blackdale Howl Wood, before continuing down into the wood. This is deciduous woodland and at the end of May there were still a few bluebells in flower as well as lots of forget me nots and red campion. The steps are here.



Leaving the woodland, the walk continues across open ground with views across Duncombe Park estate.


To the left is the stone built Griff Lodge and the path leading to Griff Farm and the site of a deserted medieval village.


The path then follows along the top of Whinny Bank Wood before dropping down through Quarry Bank Wood.


The path joins the narrow unclassified road to Rievaulx.


Some of the best views of the abbey are from this road.



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