Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey Walk
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.
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.
|When to do|
At Helmsley long stay car park
Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey Walk
Rievaulx Abbey Walking 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 0.3mi 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.
0.8mi 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
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:
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!
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