If you were asked to imagine the perfect English market town, then it'd probably look a lot like Helmsley! There's the bustling market square, the dramatic castle ruins, the charming tea rooms, the inviting inns; all surrounded by mile after mile of the beautiful North York Moors. Indeed, the Cleveland Way and Ebor Way both begin from here. It's no wonder that Helmsley welcomes back so many visitors year after year.
Browse, eat, drink and swim!
Only a mile across, historical Helmsley has lots to keep the visitor entranced for a day's visit or more. There are cosy pubs, fine dining restaurants with Michelin starred chefs and plenty of boutique, book and speciality shops overlooking the square and its ancient cross...be sure to haggle a bargain there at the Friday market! In fact, you might just have to spend the night, which isn't a problem as Helmsley offers a great choice of B&B's and plush hotels. If it's summer, you might even find time for a dip in the town's delightful open air swimming pool!
One captivating castle
Soaring above this tranquil town are the dramatic ruins of Helmsely Castle. With a 100 foot high tower and substantial mediaeval, Tudor and Victorian remains, it's a history lover's delight. There's a brand new visitors' centre and plenty of regular activities throughout school holidays - perfect if you've ever fancied training a falcon or shooting a longbow! Nestled by Helmsely Castle are the Helmsley Walled Gardens where five acres of walled gardens have been restored to its former glories which is well worth a wander (and a quick stop at the cafe too, of course!).
Walking through history
Just an arrow shot away from Helmsley stand the ruins of not one but two magnificent monasteries. Built over 800 years ago Byland Abbey and Rievaulx Abbey still evoke sense of wonder and are well worth a visit. Or why not head off on a pilgrimage of your own? Two long distance paths start from Helmsley - if you can ever bear to leave this beautiful market town of course!
Alternatively, enjoy the atmosphere of Nunnington Hall. This beautiful Yorkshire manor house is nestled on the quiet banks of the River Rye. Explore the period rooms whilst hearing the Hall's many tales and discover one of the world's finest collections of minature rooms in the attic. Famed for its picturesque location, organic walled garden with spring-flowering meadows, flamboyant resident peacocks and a changing programme of exclusive and high profile art and photography exhibitions, Nunnington Hall offers something for everyone to enjoy.
Every type of art you could wish for
Built around the kernel of a Quaker Meeting House whose origins date back 1812, the Helmsley Arts Centre caters for all forms of artistic endeavor whether it be classes in ballet, drama, life drawing, yoga and Tai Chi or a performance by their resident 1812 Theatre Company as well as much, much more. It's worth noting to othat each September the Helmsely Arts Centre holds a folk weekend, attracting nationally and internationally successful musicians.
Engage with the wildlife
The largest collection of birds of prey in the north of England and a major new addition to Helmsley, the ICBP opened in 2013. Set in the heart of Duncombe Park just a short walk from Helmsley you will find eagles, vultures, hawks, falcons, owls and more. There are 3 daily flying demonstrations with different birds appearing in each one. Open 10 am until 5.30pm, 7 days a week. 1st February until 24th December. Allow at least 2-3 hours for your visit.