white horse logo

Gamekeeper's memorial seat in Riccal Dale
Gamekeeper's memorial seat in Riccal Dale

Menu:

National Parks

| 2001 walks | 2002 walks | 2003 walks | 2004 walks |
| 2005 walks | 2006 walks | 2007 walks | 2008 walks |
| 2009 walks | 2010 walks | 2011 walks | 2012 walks |
| 2013 walks | 2014 walks | 2015 walks | 2016 walks |
| 2017 walks | 1993-2000 library | Find a Route |
| A few Routes to print out | Request a Route... |

Route No. 457 - Wednesday 29 February 2012
Helmsley, Ash Dale (Tabular Hills route)
Riccal Dale circuit - 11km
North York Moors . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors Western area


Helmsley castle seen from the main tourist car park
Helmsley castle seen from the main tourist car park

Helmsley parish church
Helmsley parish church

Helmsley parish church
Helmsley parish church

Start of the path up Ash Dale
Start of the path up Ash Dale

At the end of the street we turned right and after about 50m we turned left at the wooden finger post marking the start of the "Tabular Hills Walk". This walk goes from Helmsley across the southern edge of the North York Moors to Scarborough. We followed this route across the fields to Ash Dale.

The weather this morning was misty and wet but the rain was forecast to stop and leave an overcast but dry day. My mate, Jim, and I drove to the main tourist car park at Helmsley next to the castle at map ref. SE609837. From the car park we crossed the main road (B1257) and walked up the street at the side of the church.

The start of the Tabular Hills Walk
The start of the Tabular Hills Walk

Crossing the fields to Ash Dale
Crossing the fields to Ash Dale

The track up Ash Dale
The track up Ash Dale

The track up Ash Dale
The track up Ash Dale

The track up Ash Dale
The track up Ash Dale

The track up Ash Dale
The track up Ash Dale

Looking back to the turning up to Carlton
Looking back to the turning up to Carlton

The track in the valley bottom climbs steadily and after a little over 2km we reached a track at map ref. SE603869, crossing the valley from Carlton. We turned right onto this track still following the Tabular Hills route. The track led us out to the road on the edge of Carlton village.

Ash Dale is a wooded valley with a stone track along it. The woodland is managed and the valley sides cleared, I assume to facilitate the pheasant shooting, so the whole valley has a manicured appearance.

The track up Ash Dale
The track up Ash Dale

The turning up to Carlton
The turning up to Carlton

Snowdrops by the track to Carlton
Snowdrops by the track to Carlton

The track to the road at Carlton
The track to the road at Carlton

The road into Carlton
The road into Carlton

Our turning onto a farm track ahead
Our turning onto a farm track ahead

Tabular Hills walk turning down into Riccal Dale
Tabular Hills walk turning down into Riccal Dale

After about 1km where the track was skirting the top edge of Riccal Dale we turned right at a finger post marking the Tabular Hills Walk. There is a well walked path that doubles back contouring along the valley side, but only a few metres from the track where this path veered round to the right, our route continued straight on along a diagonal path down the valley side still following the Tabular Hills Walk.

At the road we turned left away from the village and walked along the road for about 800m to a dip in the road where there is a far access track on both sides of the road. We turned off the road to follow the farm track on the right continuing along the Tabular Hills route.

Large ivy stem growing up an oak tree
Large ivy stem growing up an oak tree

Muddy track through the woods above Riccal Dale
Muddy track through the woods above Riccal Dale

Tabular Hills walk turning down into Riccal Dale
Tabular Hills walk turning down into Riccal Dale

Tabular Hills walk turning down into Riccal Dale
Tabular Hills walk turning down into Riccal Dale

Steep descent into Riccal Dale
Steep descent into Riccal Dale

Steep descent into Riccal Dale
Steep descent into Riccal Dale

Just below the forest road there is a memorial seat to a local gamekeeper. It's a very pleasant spot and we sat there for our lunch.

It is a very steep descent and after about 250m reaches a forest access road in the bottom of Riccal Dale at map ref. SE623880.

Steep descent into Riccal Dale
Steep descent into Riccal Dale

Gamekeeper's memorial seat in Riccal Dale
Gamekeeper's memorial seat in Riccal Dale

The woodland seen from the gamekeeper's memorial seat in Riccal Dale
The woodland seen from the gamekeeper's memorial seat in Riccal Dale

The forest track down Riccal Dale
The forest track down Riccal Dale

Pheasant shooters' hut in Riccal Dale
Pheasant shooters' hut in Riccal Dale

River Riccal below the forest track
River Riccal below the forest track

Deer tracks in the mud on the path
Deer tracks in the mud on the path

It's a very pretty valley with the river Riccal below the forest road as we made our way down the valley for about 4km to map ref. SE631847.

After our break we left the Tabular Hills walk and set off down Riccal Dale along the forest road. The woodland here is not so heavily managed as Ash Dale and the woods have a much more natural appearance.

A fallen tree in Riccal Dale
A fallen tree in Riccal Dale

The forest track down Riccal Dale
The forest track down Riccal Dale

Deer path up a steep bank beside the track
Deer path up a steep bank beside the track

The forest track down Riccal Dale
The forest track down Riccal Dale

The path up the hillside out of Riccal Dale
The path up the hillside out of Riccal Dale

Approaching Reagarth Farm across the field
Approaching Reagarth Farm across the field

We followed a path along the field edge to Reagarth Farm, There's always a couple of noisy loose dogs here but they seem to be all noise and have not caused us any trouble.

Here there is a way-marked path off to the right climbing up the valley side. The valley here is quite shallow compared to the point where we first entered Riccal Dale, and we soon reached the top at a gate out of the woods and into a field.

Starting to climb out of Riccal Dale
Starting to climb out of Riccal Dale

Gate into the fields above Riccal Dale
Gate into the fields above Riccal Dale

Large oak tree below Reagarth Farm
Large oak tree below Reagarth Farm

Crossing the field from Reagarth Farm
Crossing the field from Reagarth Farm

A field full of tupps on the edge of Helmsley
A field full of tupps on the edge of Helmsley

The Youth Hostel in Helmsley
The Youth Hostel in Helmsley

The whole walk had been about 11km and it had taken me almost four and a half hours to walk including the lunch stop.

We crossed the farm yard by the sheep pens and followed a path down the slope and across the fields back to Helmsley. We made our way through the streets past the Youth Hostel and past the start of the Tabular Hills Walk. At the street by the church and retraced our steps back to the car park and the end of the walk.

Powerful modern tractor at work ploughing
Powerful modern tractor at work ploughing

An oak tree by the path into Helmsley
An oak tree by the path into Helmsley

Helmsley parish church tower seen over the roof tops from the car park
Helmsley parish church tower seen over the roof tops from the car park

Background Notes:
This walk is an 11km, about 7 mile, circuit in the wooded valleys north of Helmsley. We start from the main tourist car park in Helmsley next to the castle and the walled garden, both popular tourist attractions. The Cleveland Way long distance path goes from Helmsley around the western and northern edges of the North York Moors and down the coast to Filey. The Tabular Hills Walk has been added going from Helmsley across the southern edge of the North York Moors to the coast at Scalby so the two paths make a complete circuit of the North York Moors. From the car park our walk goes out past the parish church and follows the start of the Tabular Hills Walk across the fields from Helmsley to a wooded valley called Ash Dale, heading north. The valley floor is rich in wild spring flowers, but the whole valley has a very manicured appearance with all the scrub cleared from the valley bottom and part way up the sides. I assume this is to facillitate the pheasant shooting in the valley. There's a good track up the valley to the village of Carlton. Apparently in Norman times the local lord evicted all the residents of the village to clear the whole area for hunting. The hunting park was enclosed by a wooden stake or paling fence called the "Park Pale". It had a ditch on the inside of the fence so that deer could leap into the park but couldn't get out again. Incidentally wooden fences or pales of this type enclosing a 'safe' area were the origing of the saying 'beyond the pale' meaning outside the safe boundaries. From Carlton we follow the road and the Tabular Hills Walk to the woods above Riccal Dale. There is a very steep descent through the woods down into the valley. At the bottom there is a memorial seat to a game keeper in a very pleasant spot for a drink or even a packed lunch. From there we leave the Tabular Hills route and follow a track down the valley with the River Riccal below the track. This valley is much less heavily managed than Ash Dale and the whole valley has a much more natural feel to it. There is quite a lot of fallen timber and some standing dead trees. This kind of dead wood is an important part of the woodland ecosystem, providing holes for small mammals and birds and a home for beetles and various insect lavae. This abundance of food supports woodland birds and a far richer range of species to live in these woods than in woodland that is cleared out and tidied by interfering people. It's a very pretty valley and there are large swathes of bluebells in the spring along with many other wild spring flowers. Both Ash Dale and Riccal Dale are ancient woodlands, having been covered in trees for at least several centuries, and it's interesting to see how the different management styles affect the appearance of the woods. We follow this valley for about 4km almost to the A170 Helmsley to Pickering road. The river bed here is often dry because the river disappears down fissures in the rock to flow underground and reappears further downstream. The valley is much shallower than the steep bank where we entered the valley and it's just a short and not too steep climb up to the the fields above the valley. We follow a path across the fields towards Helmsley and along the way it's worth looking out for the large oak trees along the field boundaries. They are around 250 years old, quite young in oak tree terms. About 1.5km from Riccal Dale we reach the edge of Helmsley and make our way through the town to the end of our walk.

top of page