North York Moors: Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey Walk

The North York Moors was an area I’d never really explored much of at all until 2022, when I had a stay there during May. I fell in love with it as an area of England, and really think it’s underrated as a destination to visit. One beautiful walk we did during our stay was from picture perfect Helmsley to ancient Rievaulx Abbey, a 12km loop which was a perfect way to spend a day.


Hike Information

Location: There is a large car park in Helmsley, which costs Β£5 for 6 hours – plenty of time to do this walk.

Hike distance and time: The hike is 12km, and takes around 4 hours to complete, provided you also spend some time in Helmsley and at Rievaulx Abbey.

Terrain: The walk is largely flat and there are only 2 sections of ascent through woodland. No scrambling is required.

You can find the route we followed HERE.


The Route

A. Helmsley to Blackdale Howl Wood

Before starting the walk, take a little stroll around Helmsley, perhaps grabbing breakfast or a drink in the beautiful town – being sure to also see the castle and the church.

From the carpark, exit at the top right (opposite the toilets), following the signpost showing ‘Cleveland Way’. Follow the path along the edge of the field, and go through a couple of kissing gates following the path round to the left, and then to the right with woodland on your left.

The first path

B. Blackdale Howl Wood to Griff Lodge

Go through the gateway and continue down into the wood, which is beautiful in the summer light. There are a few steps to climb here so it is one of the more strenuous parts of the walk. At the edge of the wood, continue straight ahead and cross the track passing to the left of Griff Lodge – still following the ‘Cleveland Way’ signs.

Views from Griff Lodge

C. Griff Lodge to Rievaulx Abbey

The track eventually comes out on a road, where you turn left – initially following a path and then the minor road. You will come to a bridge over a river, at which you turn right on to Rievaulx road, passing the abbey on your right.

I strongly recommend going to look around the abbey, and it’s also a great spot for a refreshment break as they sell lots of tasty drinks and snacks.

At the Abbey
The stunning abbey

D. Rievaulx Abbey to Rievaulx Terrace

From the abbey turn back to the road and walk away from the road you came up, in to Rievaulx village itself where there are lots of pretty cottages. At the end of the village you will come to a church, and after that you turn up a path into the woods. This will bring you out at Rievaulx Terrace driveway, and you can go in if you’d like some beautiful views out across the hills.

The church

E. Rievaulx Terrace to Griff Farm

After visiting, continue down the driveway to the main road. Turn right up the grass verge alongside the road and cross the track to find a gate in a hedge. Walk through this field, and the next, with the hedge on your left until the footpath bears right around the edge of some trees. This will bring you out at a road, which you can cross and then follow the track into Griff Farm. It was beautiful in the spring with all the newborn lambs running about.

The track to the farm

F. Griff Farm to Griff Lodge

At the farm, turn right at the waymark post and go through the gate ahead of you (provided no sheep are blocking your way!). After this you continue through a field and then at the next gate turn left, and then another left through another gate – all the while sticking to the field edge. Eventually you will come out on a track again which brings you back out at Griff Lodge.

Back at Griff Lodge

G. Griff Lodge to Helmsley

For the final section of the walk, you repeat in reverse parts A and B above, back through the woodland and fields to Helmsley, this time with the castle coming in to view as you walk back. Finish the walk with a well earned ice-cream, lunch or cake!

Helmsley coming back in to view

And that brings an end to this beautiful walk. I think having the abbey on it makes it a super special walk to do, and because it’s largely flat it’s actually reasonably easy. We loved our day in the sunshine doing this walk and hope you liked it too! Stay safe and happy travelling.

38 Comments

  1. Wow, such a diverse walk with so much to see! For me, the vintage architecture of the Abbey steals the show…so amazing!! You visit the coolest places, Hannah πŸ™‚

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  2. A quaint, bucolic walk, indeed! The abbey along the way makes for a stunning view, especially a historic one! Definitely a worthwhile stroll while in that neck of the woods!

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  3. What a gorgeous abbey! I love β€œruins” like that, and it makes me think of the Villers abbey that we have in Belgium and that I still haven’t visited. The lambs are again incredibly cute! It must have been hard to resist taking one of them with you!😍
    The Rievaulx village is so pretty too! Overall it seems like a great hike that takes you in a variety of landscapes!

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  4. Wow, what a beautiful walk, Hannah, especially on a sunny spring day! I love the picturesque village of Rievaulx situated in stunning moorland scenery and the adorable old stone cottages. Thanks for sharing and have a good day πŸ™‚ Aiva xx

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  5. Loved coming along this walk with you. The opening photo of the Abbey ruin is breathtaking! It’s interesting to try to imagine what the whole structure must have looked like. And I’m always taken by the thatched roof houses.

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  6. I love these amazing paths you’re taking us on … the green fields and gravel tracks are my kind of hiking trails! And wow, the Abbey is beautiful and certainly makes for wonderful photos! Another great hike – and with the prospects of ice-cream or cake waiting at the end, it certainly counts as a preferred walk πŸ˜‰.

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    1. Aw I’m so glad you’re enjoying all the walks – I did do quite a lot in the spring before it got too hot here. I tried to do one this weekend ut it was 36 celsius (97 fahrenheit) so I gave up and sat in a park instead!!!

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  7. Loved that, Hannah. Love Helmsley – great narrative and photos, fabulous castle and a couple of super pubs! Have done the walk to Rievaulx and back – which was fine on the way, but knackering on the return! It’s all a bit much at my time of life! πŸ™‚ The abbey was fab – of course. There are great views from the terrace, but possibly better in the winter when the leaves are few.

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