One of our most delightful walks was discovered while visiting Helmsley many years ago. It just had to be repeated.
Helmsley is a handsome market town about 12 miles west of Pickering. It lies in a hollow at the foot of the Cleveland Hills, near the River Rye. Centred on a spacious square with its market cross and the 19th century Feversham memorial, there’s much historic interest. The Cleveland Way also starts here, but you won’t be doing 109 miles today.
Your day out is primarily to enjoy a 6.5 mile walk, but there’s the picturesque ruin of a 900-year-old castle, and All Saints’ Church to visit if time permits.
May and June are possibly the best months, when bluebells and primroses carpet the woodland floors and bird song fills the air.
Ash Dale and Beck Dale lie to the north of Helmsley. Ancient woodland with conifers and hardwoods such as beech, oak, ash and hazel, provide habitats for flora and fauna.
Park in Helmsley in the vicinity of All Saints’ Church. It contains interesting murals illustrating the history of the church and parish.
Start from the church to your right. Walk past, and turn right along Canon Garth Lane with the Feversham Arms seen to the left. At the end of the lane, turn right and cross the road almost immediately to take a left turn up Warwick Place.
Keep to the left of a crescent of bungalows to reach a hedged footpath beside a cemetery. This continues by a playing field, etc.
Directly ahead in the field boundary is your entrance to the Tabular Hills walk.
Follow waymarkers over a field towards woodland. The path curves round the field to give access into Ash Dale plantation.
Just ahead is the forest track. Turn left along the track through ancient woodland. Any stream that once carved out this V-shaped valley has vanished through the porous limestone rock.
Follow the forest track as it gradually climbs out of the valley and becomes hemmed between steep banks.
Ignore a track diverting right, which is Keld Lane. Continue to the head of the valley, proceeding west. About 100 metres beyond, observe farmland surrounding you. Keep hedging to your left and reach Baxton’s Lane.
Here you’ve a choice. Turn right up this lane to continue the route, or if you wish to save a mile of walking, go left to return into Helmsley. Both are admirable.
So, continue north up the lane for about 350 metres. Then turn left into a field (as you near High Baxton Farm), soon veering right. Follow the footpath and field edge, and go left onto a grassy track. Dropping quite steeply, a woodland section follows, as you continue along an obvious route through Collier Hag Wood and Ouldray Wood. Keep more or less in line with fields to your left through Beck Dale.
Reaching the foot of Beck Dale your path narrows as you head towards Borough Beck. Hemmed between wooded hillsides, remain in the valley and you’ll find you may have to cross the stream twice onto a track.
Continue along the track towards a saw mill, which is about three-quarters of a mile from where your track is joined at an off-shoot. Pleasant walking along the valley bottom, with woodland ascending either side continues to the saw mill.
Passing the mill, you join a road, and follow the path to a footbridge spanning Borough Beck. Cross the footbridge and take the stream-side walk to meet the road. This is at a point near the bend of the B1257. Now on the outskirts of Helmsley, you have several of the afore-mentioned attractions awaiting you, along with hidden back streets and plenty of refreshments available.
Distance: Six miles, allow three hours approximately.
Public transport: From York the 31/31X bus route; from Scarborough the number 128; from Malton the 194 route.
Refreshment and toilets in Helmsley.
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer, North York Moors western area, sheet OL 26. Scale 2.5 inches to one mile.