|Helmsley to Hambleton Inn (16.5 km)|
The ruins of Helmsley Castle
Getting to the beginning of the Cleveland Way at Helmsley is a bit difficult by public transport. The easiest way seems to be to take a train to Malton (between York and Darlington) and then a Pickering bus to Helmsley. Luckily I have a cousin living just outside of York so I travelled up from London and spent the night with him and his family. The next day (6 March 1993) they gave me a lift into Helmsley. Helmsley has plenty of accommodation including the Helmsley Youth Hostel.
|4 Ashdale Road||B&B||01439 770375|
|Carlton Lodge Hotel||Hotel||01439 770557|
|Crown Hotel||Hotel||01439 770297|
|14 Elmslac Road||B&B||01439 770287|
|Feathers Hotel||Hotel||01439 770275|
|Griff Farm||B&B||01439 771600|
|Stillwell House||B&B||01439 771072|
|Sproxton Hall (off route)||B&B||01439 770225|
The Cleveland Way starts at the old market cross in the Market Square. This square would look a lot better if there was no parking allowed. Even so the Feversham memorial (to the 2nd Baron Feversham who died in 1867) still looks properly ornate. I wound my way through the cars and out the north-west corner of the square to where the Cleveland Way turned down a footpath (my first Cleveland Way signpost!).
On this occasion, I did not detour to have a look at the ruins of Helmsley Castle (this was my second visit to the town). The castle was built in 1186 and mostly destroyed in 1644 by Parliamentary forces in the English Civil War. The remaining tower is still impressive, as are the earthworks surrounding it.
As the Cleveland Way leaves Helmsley and emerges into fields, there are views across to Duncombe Park (the ancestral home and residence of Lord Feversham) with the most prominent feature being the Ionic Temple at the near end of a terrace. The stony track heads out into the fields for 700 metres and then a stile is crossed where the path turns left to the edge of Blackdale Howl Wood. Do not go through the gate here but continue in the fields and along the side of the woods towards the west. A stile then took me down wooded banks into the Howl and up again along the edge of woodland. You may notice the concrete bases beside the path of huts built during the Second World War for a Polish army camp.
At Griff Lodge (a delightful little Victorian hunting lodge), there is a good view across the valley of the River Rye to the hillside (Scawton Moor) opposite. The next kilometre is an easy descent to the Helmsley to Rievaulx road with a nice stroll to the Rievaulx Bridge 500 metres further on. The impressive ruins of Rievaulx Abbey are now visible across the fields to the north. The 2 kilometre detour to view the ruins is well worth the effort. If you have time then a further diversion up to the Rievaulx Terrace with its Ionic and Tuscan Temples and elevated views along the River Rye valley is also rewarding. I had visited the Abbey on a previous trip and so pressed on.
The road is followed until past the buildings of Hagg Hall and a bend where a forestry road takes the Cleveland Way along Nettle Dale. Keep an eye on the artificial lakes in the dale as you pass by - there are plenty of wildfowl in their area. Eventually Nettle Dale is left for Flassen Dale which is quickly abandoned for a steep path on the right up a side gully. The woods are left through a gate into Low Field Lane (a nice green track). The lane climbs gently straight up to Cold Kirby - a tiny village that I had hoped would live up to its name and provide a cooling breeze on this warm spring day.
|Cote Faw||B&B||01845 597363|
|Gormire Lake from Roulston Scar|
Another walled lane leads pleasantly back to the woodlands from the far end of Cold Kirby. A stile then gives access to a forestry track which is followed west to Hambleton House, whose driveway gets you to the A170 road at the Hambleton Inn. This was my stop for the night - I set up my tent in the camping field next to the inn.
I spent the rest of the afternoon walking out to the White Horse of Kilburn (about 2 kilometres from the inn) which is a 96 metre by 70 metre turf-cut figure in the hillside above Kilburn originally constructed in 1857. It is visible from the central tower of York Minster, 32 kilometres away in York. The steep slopes from Roulston Scar to Whitestone Cliff convert westerly winds into strong updraughts which inspired the establishment of the Yorkshire Gliding Club in 1931 above the White Horse. Often (as today) the skies are filled with soaring gliders and so I stopped to watch them landing and taking off. As an extra bonus, there was a parachutist hovering on the thermals above Crag House to the west.
The White Horse does not look like much when viewed from the escapement edge but was quite impressive when I descended a path to the fields below and a bit away from it. To vary the return, I wandered along a track at the base of Roulston Scar through wooded areas and then climbed up to the top via Knowlson's Drop. I followed Sutton Bank around to where the road pulls onto the bank top and had a look around the visitor centre before heading back to the inn.