Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey Walk

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Very Easy
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
2.5-3.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
11.1 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
185 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Overall Rating
This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
9.9
Physical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Technical Difficulty
This is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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Directions to Trailhead
Panoramic views of the Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey walk in North York Moors, England

The popular Rievaulx Abbey Walk starts in the bustling market town of Helmsley and follows part of the Cleveland Way to reach the idyllic village and ruins of Rievaulx Abbey. With plenty of classic Yorkshire views and history a plenty— this is a great loop and day out.

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Route Description

To start the Rievaulx Abbey walk from Helmsley, from the car park, turn left and follow signs for the Cleveland Way. Follow the broad track up to a kissing gate and onto farmland. Continue straight ahead on the Cleveland Way through two gates before turning left to cut down towards the woodland. The path then turns sharply right to follow alongside the boundary of the woodland.

After just over 0.5 km the path drops slightly to the left into the woodland and soon descends steeply down via some steps before promptly climbing back up. Follow the track to emerge from the woodland at Griff Lodge and continue ahead still on the Cleveland Way, keeping the lodge to your right.

1.3 km further ahead the Cleveland Way meets a minor road. Turn left, initially following a raised footpath before soon dropping down onto the lane and continuing ahead. You will soon spot the Abbey ruins to your right.

Turn left at the next junction before the bridge, following signs to Rievaulx. Continue along the road towards the abbey. After exploring the abbey—headback onto the road running through the village and continue ahead on Rievaulx Road as it leads you up and out of the village.

After passing the church on your right, turn right to follow the narrow footpath off into the woods marked ‘Permissive Path to Rievaulx Terrace’. At the top of the path bear left through and gate, passing the entrance to Rievaulx Terrace to your right and continue down the tarmacked drive to the main road.

Turn right at the main road, and remain on the grass verge to find a signposted gate and footpath leading into the field ahead. Follow the path as it runs parallel to the road before turning sharply right to follow the perimeter of the field down to a gate.

Here, cross a small lane and follow the wide track towards Griff Farm. Before the farm buildings, you’ll find arrows directing you to the right and taking you in a loop to avoid the main buildings. This route eventually brings you back onto a broad track on the far side. Turn right onto this track and follow it back towards Griff Lodge. Turn left to rejoin the Cleveland Way and retrace your steps back to Helmsley.

Walking Route Highlights

Rievaulx Abbey

The Rievaulx Abbey was originally built in 1132, as a Cistercian abbey, and was considered one of the greats of its time. It was regarded as the most powerful monasticism center in Great Britain, with a congregation of 650 and healmed by famous abbot, Aelred.

The abbey was conquered by Henry VIII of England in 1538, during the abolishment period of the monasteries. But upon rediscovery in the 18th-century, the ruins became a popular landmark for the Romantic artists of the time. Today, you can roam the grounds to take in the extensive and fascinating ruins, or visit the museum nestled away in the secluded North York Moors valley.

Find more amazing walks in North York Moors National Park:

Insider Hints

  • Allow yourself plenty of time to explore the abbey ruins and enjoy the hike.
  • Head to Rievaulx Terrace to enjoy more stunning views and a peak at two incredible temples.
  • Finish with ice cream from Ryeburn of Helmsley – famously good!

Getting There

To get to the start of Rievaulx Abbey walk, from Thirsk, follow the A170 eastwards to Helmsley. Once in Helmsley follow signs for the long stay car park, situated on Cleveland Way just behind Cleveland Castle. Parking is priced at £3-6, depending how long you plan to stay.

Route Details

  • When to do

    All year

  • Backcountry Campsites

    No

  • Toilets

    At Helmsley long stay car park

  • Family friendly

    Yes

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    High

  • Route Type

    Circuit

Elevation Graph

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