Make a pilgrimage from Helmsley Castle to Rievaulx Abbey

  • Make a pilgrimage from Helmsley Castle to Rievaulx Abbey © Mike Kipling
Follow in the footsteps of Saint Aelred of Rievaulx, one of Yorkshire’s most famous abbots, on this historic walk from Helmsley Castle to Rievaulx Abbey. The route takes in magnificent woodland, the valley of Blackdale Howl and stunning views from the top of Jinny York Bank.

Helmsley Castle, with its long and exciting history, is a great place to explore before beginning your walk. The castle dates back to the 12th century, since which time it has evolved from a medieval fortress to a Tudor Manor House before falling into ruin (it is now managed by English Heritage). What must it have been like to live in this spectacular place?

Rievaulx Abbey was founded in 1132 and at one time housed over 140 monks. The monks were inspired by Saint Aelred to work hard in transforming the Abbey into a busy hub of commerce and industry. The grounds of the Abbey provided fertile farmland and sites for smelting iron. Today, it offers a haven of peace and relaxation – a perfect opportunity to pause and meditate on the experiences you’ve enjoyed along your walk.

Helmsley itself marks the start of the Cleveland Way and is the ideal ‘pitstop’ to fill up with refreshments from the many high quality restaurants, pubs and shops. Be sure to pop into Helmsley Brewery where the official Cleveland Way beer “Striding the Riding” is brewed. The walk passes near Helmsley Walled Garden, built in 1756, which has undergone extensive restoration works and now provides a fully working kitchen garden. Much of what is grown in the garden is available to buy including plants, vegetables, herbs and fruits – so stock up and tuck in!

While in Helmsley, you might also like to visit the new National Centre for Birds of Prey at Duncombe Park – home to a wide range of rare and endangered species, including snowy owls, peregrine falcons and golden eagles, set amidst 300 acres of parkland.


Location map

© Crown copyright and database rights 2013. Ordnance Survey 100021930.
Helmsley Market Square
10.4 km (6.4 miles)
3 hours there and back, plus allow at least 3 hours for visiting Helmsley Castle and Rievaulx Abbey
OS Map: 
OL26 North York Moors Western area