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I might be a little biased, but everyone knows that Yorkshire is the best county, right? It has buzzing cities, pretty market towns, beautiful countryside, friendly folk and great beer. And we can’t forget Yorkshire puddings! Helmsley is one of my favourite places in Yorkshire to visit for a weekend: it’s a market town in the North Yorkshire Moors National park and full of cosy pubs, with plenty of other things to entertain you too. Here are my top things to do in Helmsley, North Yorkshire.
Things to do in Helmsley, North Yorkshire: Visit Helmsley Castle
Helmsley’s medieval castle dates back 900 years and can be seen from almost anywhere in the town centre. Enter through the English Heritage visitor centre and take a walk around the grounds of the castle, which was built around 1120 by Walter Espec who also founded nearby Rievaulx Abbey and Kirkham Priory.
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 the below.
Things to do in Helmsley, North Yorkshire: Walk to Rievaulx Abbey
Another English Heritage site, Rievaulx Abbey, makes for a delightful 7 mile circular walk from Helmsley. The walk takes in views of Helmsley Castle and the North Yorkshire Moors, and gives you the chance to visit the spectacular Cistercian monastery itself. There’s also a tea room there, so this walk is a winner in many ways!
Things to do in Helmsley, North Yorkshire: Drink at a Micro Brewery
Did you know that there’s a micro brewery in Helmsley, North Yorkshire? Helmsley Brewing Co. has been running since 2014 and they brew every beer with “consistent patience, love and attention to detail”. This results in high quality ales such as Yorkshire Legend (my favourite), Helmsley Honey and Striding the Riding.
Enjoy a pint or a tasting flight in their tap room whilst watching the world go by outside, or join one of their tours which run every Wednesday between 10am and 12pm for just £8 per person including a bottle, pint or tasting paddle.
Things to do in Helmsley, North Yorkshire: Browse Independent Boutiques
Helmsley, North Yorkshire, is full of unique, independent retailers perfect for an afternoon of browsing, with the occasional purchase! Foodies will love Thomas the Baker: a family-owned bakery and deli offering up fresh, home-baked Yorkshire food. Although established in Helmsley in 1981, there are now 30 stores around Yorkshire, but all focus on freshness, quality, value for money and local ingredients.
Bondgate Antiques, The Crafty Pair and Hunters of Helmsley are all beautiful stores, and if you love wine then don’t miss Helmsley Wines. Even if you’re not shopping for yourself, everyone loves a gift!
Things to do in Helmsley, North Yorkshire: Pamper Yourself at a Spa
The first time I visited Helmsley was for a spa day at *Feversham Arms Hotel and Spa. This premium hotel and spa is perfect for a day of relaxation and chatter with friends, with an outdoor hot tub and heated swimming pool, luxurious lounge seats and reasonably priced treatments. Although I’ve only used the spa and not stayed in the hotel, I did have a sneaky look around and it looked fabulous!
The spa at Feversham Arms, known as the Verbena Spa, does get very busy on a weekend so you’ll need to book ahead. It’s possible to use the facilities without booking a treatment (it’s £25 for 3 hours which isn’t at all bad), but only if the spa isn’t too busy, as those booking treatments will have priority.
Nearby Helmsley, North Yorkshire: Dine at The Star Inn at Harome
Just a few minutes drive from Helmsley is Harome, a tiny town with a population of just 261 according to the last census. In the centre of Harome is Andrew Pern’s The Star Inn at Harome, a Michelin Star restaurant in a thatched building which dates back to the 14th century. When I last spent a weekend in Helmsley, we visited The Star Inn for a snack and enjoyed a bowl of Yorkshire puddings with gravy so thick and sweet it could have been mistaken for treacle.
Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a thirteen course tasting menu at The Star Inn and it currently stands at my number one favourite dining experience. I’ve written a blog post reviewing The Star Inn, so please do have a read of that.
If you’re staying overnight in Harome so that you can enjoy the wine pairing alongside the tasting menu, you can stay at The Star Inn itself (the hotel is just across the road from the restaurant), or at The Pheasant Hotel which is equally close. The Pheasant Hotel is fabulous and you can read my blog post about it here.
Nearby Helmsley, North Yorkshire: Grab Some Produce from Beadlam Grange Farm Shop
I live in a city centre, so farm shops are a bit of a novelty for me! Beadlam Grange Farm Shop is only a five minute drive from Helmsley and is packed full of local produce, deli delights, homeware and flowers. There was a resident dog which really topped it all off for me, and a tea room for those not too full from Helmsley’s offerings already.
Nearby Helmsley, North Yorkshire: Go to the Seaside
Yorkshire certainly delivers on its coastlines and harbour towns. Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay, Scarborough, Filey and Bridlington are all within easy reach of Helmsley and are perfect for visiting on a sunny day – or any day at that! We rounded off our weekend in Helmsley with a drive to Staithes, about an hour away from Helmsley.
Our afternoon was whiled away exploring winding cobbled streets and eating giant scones in pretty tea rooms – I highly recommend Dotty’s Vintage Tea Room! Despite the huge scones, we just about managed to squeeze our way through the narrowest street in the UK.
A recent discovery, also about an hour away from Helmsley, is Ravenscar. If you’re willing to brave a slightly steep cliff walk, you’ll be rewarded with an impressive bob (yes, that’s the collective word) of seals!
Where to Stay in Helmsley, North Yorkshire
- If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Helmsley, I’d recommend the Black Swan. We stayed here and the room, service and food were all excellent – I’ve written a blog post about my experience staying at the Black Swan Helmsley here.
- I’ve also mentioned *Feversham Arms Hotel and Spa, if you’re looking for somewhere high end.
- There are plenty of beautiful BnBs in Helmsley, which you can book through *booking.com or Air BnB. If you haven’t used Air BnB before, sign up using *this link and save £34 on your booking.
I hope this post has given you some inspiration for things to do in Helmsley, North Yorkshire, and I’d love to hear what you get up to if you visit so do leave a comment or get in touch on Instagram. If you’d like to read about more UK travel, here are some posts that might interest you:
- For more Yorkshire travel, how about Dalby Forest and nearby?
- If you’re visiting Leeds, make sure to read about Leeds Food Tours (cheeky plug of my own company here!)
- The ultimate list of 67 things to do in Leeds city centre
- Some things to do in Liverpool in this blog post
- If you fancy heading south, here’s how I spent a slow weekend in Devon
- One of my all-time favourite UK travel destinations: how to spend a perfect weekend in Southwold
- A guide to planning, booking and walking the West Highland Way for those of you who are into walking
- More walking: A guide to Crib Goch and Snowdon