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Helmsley is a small town on the River Rye in North Yorkshire, in the south-western North Yorkshire Moors National Park, east of Thirsk and west of Pickering (the road from Thirsk to Helmsley crosses the hill known as Sutton Bank, a very steep (1 in 4) hill in the Hambleton Hills).
The town has an attractive centre (the statue is of Lord Feversham) and a good selection of shops and cafes. There is a traditional Yorkshire heart to the town, along with a church and a small stream that runs scenically behind the houses. The half-timbered rectory is among the highlights.
The town is also a popular starting point for hikers following the Cleveland Way long distance trail, which passes through more than 100 miles of the scenic North Yorkshire Moors.
Helmsley is best known for the historical monuments that are found close by and including Helmsley Castle, Duncombe Park, Nunnington Hall and Rievaulx Abbey.
Helmsley Castle and Duncombe Park
The ruins of the 13th century Helmsley castle are found in Helmsley itself. The castle has had an eventful history, starting as a medieval defensive castle then later being transformed into a Tudor manor house.
The castle has been owned for several centuries by the Feversham family, who now live in the stately home at nearby Duncombe Park. dating from the early 18th century then substantially altered in the late 19th century, Duncombe Park is a very popular attraction, both for the grandeur of the house itself, and for the landscaped gardens that surround it.
An associated highlight is the carefully restored Helmsley Walled Garden, a large garden dating from the 18th century and with Helmsley Castle as a picturesque backdrop which has been restored over the last decade after a long period of neglect.
Visit the substantial ruins of a 13th century cistercian Abbey. Rievaulx Terrace, a very scenic area of gardens, woodlands and temples adjacent to the abbey is the best place from which to appreciate the size and grandeur of the overall complex and setting, and a lovely place for a picnic (National Trust maintained, admission charge payable).
A few kilometres to the south-east of Helmsley and on the River Rye, Nunnington Hall is a 17th century manor house now maintained by the National Trust. After exploring the period rooms of the Hall itself, there is also an attractive walled garden to explore.
Map of Helmsley and places to visit
Helmsley places to visit
See more places nearby in the North Yorkshire guide