Located beyond the Howardian Hills, on the far edge of the Vale of Pickering, the tranquil market town of Helmsley is the southern gateway to the beautiful North York Moors.
The timeless charm of Helmsley is reflected in its collection of traditional shops, quaint tea rooms and genteel country pubs. The weekly market, which fills the medieval town square, adds to the feeling that Helmsley is a snapshot of times gone by.
On the edge of Helmsley is the impressive Duncombe Park estate, home to Baron Feversham, which spreads out over 300 acres of parkland. However, it is the ruins of Helmsley Castle which command the best position, overlooking the whole of the town.
Things to do in Helmsley
Originally built from wood and earth in the 12th century, Helmsley Castle evolved over time into an impressive medieval structure, used as a stronghold during the Civil War in the 16th century. Although much of the castle has fallen into ruin, there is still plenty to see and explore. The castle is an English Heritage property and well-worth exploring during a visit to Helmsley. Within the surviving buildings there is much to see, including an exhibition centre in the Old Hall, which displays relics and artefacts discovered at the Castle – including fascinating weaponry, amour and many everyday items.
Helmsley Walled Garden
Set in the shadow of Helmsley Castle, the Walled Garden dates back to 1756 and includes some original glass houses from the 1800s (and since restored). The Victorian gardens are a delight to discover, while the cafe is a lovey place to relax and enjoy a drink, snack or meal among the smells and colour of the lovingly tended beds.
The International Centre for Birds of Prey
Home to the largest collection of birds of prey in the north of England, this impressive centre only opened in 2013 and offers a wonderful insight into the world of these magnificent birds.
There are a vast number of excellent shops, both traditional and modern, within the market town that you won’t have time to visit them all. Notable among them are Browns department store and Hunters of Helmsley, with its deli on the ground floor and Aladdin’s Cave upstairs.
Eating and drinking
There’s plenty to choose from in Helmsley, from delightful cafes and bakeries, to traditional pubs offering hearty meals and fine dining. For coffee and cake, why not try the Sugared Butterfly on the Marketplace; for a light lunch or something more, you can’t beat the family-run Castlegate Cafe, located just behind the main square. Traditional fish and chips are served at Scott’s of Helmsley, while the Black Swan Hotel offers a particularly indulgent Afternoon Tea.