Helmsley-The Beginning of An Adventure

I don’t remember why, but we took a cab from York to Helmsley. John seems to remember the train took too long and neither of us wanted to take a bus. The travel was initially complicated by a traffic problem on the main highway but our friendly cab driver (female, naturally) drove to Helmsley on the backroads, pointing out notable sites, responding to our many questions and providing a history of the area. As it turned out, the traffic issues were in our favor. Somehow these little travel annoyances seem to turn out to be memorable parts of every trip.

It took us about 40 or so minutes of scenic country roads to get to Helmsley, views of the British countryside we would not have had from the main highway. As we arrived in town, we noticed Helmsley was dressed in yellow and blue, colors of the bicycle Tour de Yorkshire. Upon closer look, brightly painted bicycles hung from buildings, ribbons were tied to fences and signs announcing the Tour were strung all over town. Our cabbie explained that the Tour had been through Helmsley just the day before. I sighed with relief as I knew that with John’s love of bicycling, a future date could have been a temporary trip interrupter.

We unloaded our gear at Red Roofs B&B where we had reservations for the night. I know what you are thinking but the name Red Roofs comes from the red tiled roofs covering many of the buildings in Helmsley. Our B&B was situated in a proper British neighborhood with similar looking two story homes, small, neat lawns and, of course, red tiled roofs. Our hosts, Marco and Jane graciously accepted our luggage but sent us into town to explore till our room was ready.

An hour or so later we were settled in a comfortable second floor room, with a spacious en suite bathroom. Large windows overlooking a pretty garden filled one wall, sunlight warmed the room. A tea kettle and several cups had been set out for our enjoyment. Just the invitation we needed to rest our feet for a few moments. We don’t drink much tea at home and after several days of tea drinking I wondered why, such a civilized way to relax (note: I quit drinking tea again as soon as we returned home).

The bathroom (through the open door) was an addition to the room.
The room had a sitting area by the windows where one could curl up to read a book and enjoy a cup of tea or just think about the upcoming walk.

Marco gave us (John) instructions for finding the trailhead and we headed back to town in search of the beginning of our adventure. Along the way we stopped at the beautiful Church of All Saints, an Anglican parish church and walked the yard and cemetery. Just beyond the church, a street or so away, we spotted just what we were looking for, a stone marker with the symbol of the Cleveland Way path, the acorn.

And that’s it, the beginning. One just walks beyond the stone marker and the adventure begins.
The abbey that once served Helmsley Castle is Rievaulx, noted on the sign above. The ruins are an attraction for walkers on the Cleveland Way and are also accessible by car. Filey is the termination of the path.

Towering over the village of Helmsley and located near the entrance to the Cleveland Way are the ruins of Helmsley Castle. The castle has a lengthy history but the initial structure of wood was built around 1120 AD. Around 1186 AD, the process of converting it from wood to stone began. Somewhere along the line of life, death and inheritance, it became the property of Robert de Roos, Lord of Helmsley, who made significant improvements in the 1200’s. The market town of Helmsley grew up around the massive castle to serve the needs of the castle inhabitants.

The castle continued to be passed down among de Roos and was finally sold to the Duncombes, who did not really inhabit it. After decades of disrepair and decay, the castle, though still privately owned, is now cared for by the English Heritage.

The Helmsley Chapel wall from the main street in Helmsley
Part of the castle is still standing and enclosd
A few of rooms in the castle still stood and have been protected
Windows overlooking the gardens are magnificent
My imagination runs wild when I look at the skeleton of old buildings. Look at the fireplaces and windows filled with afternoon light. Day to day life happened here, children were raised, families loved and family members died.
The only standing wall of a chapel built on the castle property.
The red roofs of the village of Helmsley. The towers of the Church of All Saints are visible.
We had lunch at a lovely little café named the Cocoa Tree, fresh salad, coleslaw, a handful of chips and quiche.
We initially planned to dine outside but it was a little chilly so we moved in.

We spent most of the rest of the day in town poking through shops and watching other tourists.

The streets of Helmsley

Finally it was time to find something for dinner. We were in Helmsley on a Sunday and discovered many restaurants were closed and those that were open had a long waits. We ended up sitting on a bench in town eating fish and chips from a take away store. Most B&B’s have signs that say take away food, especially (greasy) fish and chips are not allowed in the room.

Fish and Chips Takeaway

After dinner we headed back to our room to prepare for our walk and get a good night’s rest. I was looking forward to what was to come, 10 days on the trail in a new B&B each night. So many exciting things to come…..

This entry was posted in Cleveland Way, England, Hiking, Outside, Travel, Uncategorized, Walking. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Helmsley-The Beginning of An Adventure

  1. lexklein says:

    Just a peek at that path gave me a shiver of anticipation! 🙂

    • smithposts says:

      Me too when I first saw the trail. Ten days of experiences we could not imagine were ahead. Isn’t that the way with every adventure, the excitement of the unknown which will change your thoughts and perceptions in so many ways.!

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