It’s a known fact that Yorkshire is the best county, right? So much so, that earlier this year when I was desperate for a few days away but feeling too anxious to travel, I opted for a break in my home county and spent a long weekend in Helmsley. Helmsley is a beautiful market town in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park and makes for a great weekend away exploring this part of the country. There are plenty of things to do in Helmsley and the surrounding areas, here are just a few of them.
Visit Helmsley Castle
This medieval castle dates back 900 years and makes for an excellent few hours out. Enter through the English Heritage visitor centre and gift shop and take a walk around the grounds of the castle, which they reckon was built around 1120 by Walter Espec who also founded Rievaulx Abbey and Kirkham Priory (more on this in a moment).
It was then taken over by Robert de Roos, lord of Helmsley from 1190 to 1227, and was owned by the Roos family until 1508. It was besieged once, during the Civil War, by Sir Thomas Fairfax, and although the defences of the castle were destroyed, the mansion remained intact. The castle went out of use in 1709 and now is a fantastic place to visit to take stupid pictures like these:
Walk to Rievaulx Abbey
Another English Heritage site, Rievaulx Abbey makes for a beautiful 7 mile circular walk from Helmsley. The walk takes in views of Helmsley Castle and the gorgeous North Yorkshire Moors, and gives you the chance to visit the spectacular Cistercian monastery itself. There’s also a tea room there, so it’s a winner in many ways!
Have a Beer
Did you know that there’s a micro brewery in Helmlsey? Helmsley Brewing Co. has been running since 2014 and I can say from experience that they make some great tasting beers! It’s a lovely place to sit with a pint and watch the world go by, but they also offer tours every Wednesday between 10am and 12pm for just £8 per person including a bottle, pint or tasting paddle.
Shop Until You Drop
There are loads of unique, independent retailers in Helmsley, perfect for an afternoon of browsing. My favourites were Thomas the Baker for my foodie needs, Bondgate Aniques, Crafty Pair, Hunters of Helmsley and, of course, Helmsley Wines. Even if you’re not planning on buying anything, these shops are all perfect for browsing (and gift buying!).
I first discovered Helmsley on a spa day with some friends, when we spent the day at the Feversham Arms Hotel and Spa. Not only is the hotel gorgeous (we didn’t stay but we had a sneaky peek around), the spa is perfect for a day of relaxation, with an outdoor hot tub and heated swimming pool, comfortable lounging seats and reasonably priced treatments. The sandwiches make for a tasty light lunch too!
Have Lunch at The Star Inn
The Star Inn is 100% worth the drive out of Helmsley to Harome, which is just around the corner. The building dates back to the 14th Century and has been owned by chef Andrew Pern since 1996, during which time its consistently been rated as one of the top restaurants in the UK and has held a Michelin star for a large proportion of that time.
The Star Inn serves ‘modern Yorkshire food’ lovingly created with locally sourced ingredients, and whilst I was desperate to try the 13 course tasting menu, we had just had a huge breakfast and had somewhat run out of budget! Instead we opted for a ‘light’ lunch which was far from light but one of the best dishes I’ve ever been served. Billy had a pork pie and I had a bowl of Yorkshire puddings with a gravy so thick and sweet it tasted like treacle. It was a huge portion and excellent value for money, although I could hardly move afterwards.
Go to the Seaside
Helmsley isn’t far from the coast, and Yorkshire certainly delivers on beautiful coastlines. With the likes of Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay, Scarborough, Filey and Bridlington within easy reach, there’s no shortage of stunning beaches to spend a sunny day.
We opted for Staithes which was about an hour away from Helmsley and whiled away our afternoon exploring winding cobbled streets and tea rooms. We even squeezed our way through the narrowest street in the UK. If you want to eat a scone the size of your head (I don’t know how I managed after that Yorkshire pudding for lunch!) I’d highly recommend Dotty’s Vintage Tea Room.
Stop Off at Beadlam Grange Farm Shop
I can’t resist a farm shop, and Beadlam Grange is just 5 minutes away from Helmsley so visiting was a no brainer for me. This place was great, with loads of local produce and deli items, gorgeous homeware items (I bought the most amazing smelling coffee candle), vibrant flowers and a cute dog. There’s also a tea room, but I was far too full of full English breakfast, Yorkshire puddings and scones to visit.
As always, I’d love to hear your experiences of Helmsley and if you have any questions please do ask!