Cycling Guide: Rievaulx Abbey – Helmsley Castle
Hidden in the deep River Rye valley lies the tranquil ruins of Rievaulx Abbey, one of the first Cistercian abbeys to be founded in England in around 1130. The picturesque market town of Helmsley sits nearby, home to a fascinating castle over 900 years old that has evolved many times over the centuries.
This short cycling route offers a fun way to take in both sites in one day, complete with scenic views of North Yorkshire countryside as you roll downhill toward Helmsley. If you'd prefer to travel by foot, take a look at our scenic walking route from Helmsley Castle to Rievaulx Abbey.
Please check the individual site pages below for the latest information regarding facilities and opening hours.
- DISTANCE – Approximately 3 miles (5 km) one way, or 6 miles (10 km) with a return trip.
- TIME – 20-30 minutes one way, or an hour with a return trip.
- TERRAIN – Starting at Rievaulx Abbey, there is an initial half mile uphill climb on a leafy country road followed by a 2 mile downhill stretch on a single, paved road (B1257).
- DIFFICULTY – Intermediate/Family. A short, relatively simple route to navigate but prior road cycling experience is recommended.
- See a map of the sites | View the route on Google Maps | View the route on Komoot
EXPLORE RIEVAULX ABBEY
Rievaulx Abbey is the perfect choice for a peaceful day out, with its extensive ruins and fascinating museum in a secluded North York Moors valley.
EXPLORE HELMSLEY CASTLE
Unlock 900 years of life at Helmsley Castle, an essential site for any visitor to the market town of Helmsley in the North York Moors National Park.
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This route starts with the tranquility of one of England's most powerful Cistercian monasteries: Rievaulx Abbey. Wander the extensive ruins and take in the stunning views from our new visitor centre and tearoom, which serves hot and cold drinks and a selection of hot and cold meals using locally sourced ingredients.
0.1 MILES | 0.2 KMLEAVE CAR PARK, TURN RIGHT
Leave the Rievaulx Abbey car park and turn right on to Rievaulx Bank. This winding road comes with a couple of 16% uphill sections but it offers great views of the abbey, cottage garden and wider vista. Carry on past the Methodist Church / Arden Lane and follow the tree-lined road to the top where you'll come to a T-junction.
0.7 MILES | 1.1 KMTURN ON TO B1257
At the T-junction, be mindful of road traffic as you turn right on to the B1257 to head toward Helmsley. From here, just follow the road downhill and enjoy views of open fields for around 2 miles (taking approximately 10-15 minutes).
2.5 MILES | 4 KMENTER HELMSLEY
As you approach Helmsley, you'll see signs slowing the road speed to 30mph. Stay on the road as it becomes the High Street and follow it until you can see a Church ahead.
2.7 MILES | 4.3 KMTURN RIGHT ON TO CLEVELAND WAY
When the church is in sight, follow signs for the long stay car park and turn right on to Cleveland Way. Once on Cleveland Way, take the second left to enter the council car park (where car charges apply) and head toward the entrance to Helmsley Castle in the far corner.
You've arrived! Over the centuries Helmsley Castle has evolved from a
mighty medieval fortress to a luxurious Tudor mansion, to a Civil War stronghold and a romantic Victorian ruin. Discover more in our exhibition showing its development over time.
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