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Helmsley Castle seen from the Cleveland Way approaching the town
Helmsley Castle seen from the Cleveland Way approaching the town

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Route No. 528 - Thursday 9 January 2014
Wass, Wass Bank, Claythwaite Rigg,
Rievaulx Bridge, Cleveland Way, Helmsley - 11km
(linear route) - Hambleton Hills . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors Western area


Helmsley Castle Information centre at the long stay car park
Helmsley Castle Information centre at the long stay car park

A well tended vegetable garden by the path from the car park
A well tended vegetable garden by the path from the car park

In the market square we caught the 9.40am bus (the number 31X service that runs from Helmsley to York). We travelled on the bus for about 20 minutes to the village of Wass and got off the bus at the Wombwell Arms pub, map ref. SE 555792.

This morning my neighbour, Jim, and I drove to Helmsley and parked in the long stay car park by the castle at map ref. SE609837. We walked from the car park along the footpath past the information centre and the castle entrance to cross the road and walk into the market square.

Heading into the market square in Helmsley
Heading into the market square in Helmsley

The road from Wass climbing up Wass Bank
The road from Wass climbing up Wass Bank

The Church of St. Thomas at the bottom of Wass Bank
The Church of St. Thomas at the bottom of Wass Bank

The road up Wass Bank
The road up Wass Bank

The driveway to Stanbrook Abbey
The driveway to Stanbrook Abbey

After about 1km, on our left, we passed the drive to Stanbrook Abbey (a recently built convent) and some holiday lodges at Crief Farm. We continued up the hill for another 500m to map ref. SE561806. Here we turned left off the road on to a track through the forest.

From the bus stop we walked back along the road for a few metres to the crossroads and continued straight ahead up Wass Bank. It's the road up a steep hill through woodland.

Looking back into Wass from Wass Bank
Looking back into Wass from Wass Bank

The road up Wass Bank
The road up Wass Bank

Stanbrook Abbey seen from Wass Bank
Stanbrook Abbey seen from Wass Bank

Our turning into the plantation at the top of Wass Bank
Our turning into the plantation at the top of Wass Bank

The track off the Wass Bank road into the plantation
The track off the Wass Bank road into the plantation

The bridleway through the plantation
The bridleway through the plantation

We followed the wet, muddy bridleway for about 1km to the main road (A170) at map ref. SE559817, opposite High Lodge farm.

At the start of the forest track, we kept to the right hand track and after about 200m at a sharp left hand bend in the track we continued straight ahead along a public bridleway.

The bridleway through the plantation
The bridleway through the plantation

Approaching the A170 opposite High Lodge farm
Approaching the A170 opposite High Lodge farm

The bridleway through the plantation
The bridleway through the plantation

Turning off the A170 to the bridleway on the farm access track
Turning off the A170 to the bridleway on the farm access track

Footpath along Claythwaite Rigg on the old monks' route
Footpath along Claythwaite Rigg on the old monks' route

Our first glimpse of Reivaulx Abbey
Our first glimpse of Rievaulx Abbey

We continued along this route across the large fields where there were sheep grazing, along Claythwaite Rigg to the edge of Claythwaite Wood. As we crossed the fields we had our first glimpse of Rievaulx Abbey ahead of us in the valley bottom. There had been heavy rain last night and the whole route so far had been quite wet and muddy.

At the road (A170), we turned right to walk about 100m along the road before we turned left to cross the road and walk down the farm access track opposite. The whole route from Wass to Rievaulx Bridge has been following the route used since about 900 years ago by the monks and their estate workers to communicate between Byland Abbey, close to Wass village, and Rievaulx Abbey by the River Rye ahead of us.

Muddy bridleway across the farmland
Muddy bridleway across the farmland

This hollow is all that remains of the old monks' trod
This hollow is all that remains of the old monks' trod

Heading for Claythwaite Wood over a very muddy field
Heading for Claythwaite Wood over a very muddy field

Heading along the edge of Claythwaite Wood
Heading along the edge of Claythwaite Wood

Heading along the edge of Claythwaite Wood
Heading along the edge of Claythwaite Wood

The descent to Cross Green Farm
The descent to Cross Green Farm

Here we turned left to follow the farm track out to the road at Cross Green farm. There were two highland cows, one with a young calf in a field by the farm.

We continued along the track along the edge of Claythwaite Wood and then descending quite steeply to join a farm access track at map ref. SE570841.


Bright yellow fungus?

Heading along the edge of Claythwaite Wood
Heading along the edge of Claythwaite Wood

Highland cattle at Cross Green farm
Highland cattle at Cross Green farm

Cattle by the track near Cross Green farm
Cattle by the track near Cross Green farm

Passing the turn to Ashberry Farm
Passing the turn to Ashberry Farm

The River Rye from Reivaulx Bridge
The River Rye from Rievaulx Bridge

Just beyond the bridge we passed the turning on the left to Rievaulx Abbey and here we left the ancient route to the abbey that we had followed so far. Instead from here we followed the route of the Cleveland Way that would lead us all the way back into Helmsley.

At the road we turned right and walked along the road past the junction leading to Ashberry Farm and on to Rievaulx Bridge over the River Rye at map ref. SE574842. We stood on the bridge for a few moments to watch the swollen river rushing by and then continued along the road.

The road to Reivaulx Bridge
The road to Rievaulx Bridge

Belted Galloway cattle in a field by the road
Belted Galloway cattle in a field by the road

Reivaulx Abbey seen from the road near Reivaulx Bridge
Rievaulx Abbey seen from the road near Rievaulx Bridge

Cleveland Way route along the road
Cleveland Way route along the road

The Cleveland Way turning off the road
The Cleveland Way turning off the road

Track through Quarry Bank Wood
Track through Quarry Bank Wood

Near he top of the climb the track passes a disused quarry and then continues along the top edge of Whinny Bank Wood for about 600m to Griff Lodge at map ref. SE590834.

From this junction we walked along the road for about 500m just past a left hand bend in the road and there we turned right off the road to follow the Cleveland way path climbing up along a track through Quarry Bank Wood.

Sheep feeding by the roadside
Sheep feeding by the roadside

Climbing up the Cleveland Way along the track from the road
Climbing up the Cleveland Way along the track from the road

Tree across the tack through Quarry Bank Wood
Tree across the tack through Quarry Bank Wood

Old quarry by the track at the top of Quarry Bank Wood
Old quarry by the track at the top of Quarry Bank Wood

Griff Lodge by the Cleveland Way
Griff Lodge by the Cleveland Way

This was in fact steam being puffed out from the Helmsley Windy Pit, one of a series of such fissures in the rock along Ryedale between Helmsley and Hawnby. It was very pleasant in the sunshine with a view across the wooded slopes of Ryedale.

There is a bench by the track here and we sat there for a few minutes for a drink.From our seat we could see what seemed to be smoke rising from the trees near the bottom of the hillside opposite.

Convenient bench for a break with a view over Rye Dale
Convenient bench for a break with a view over Rye Dale

The Cleveland Way passing Griff Lodge
The Cleveland Way passing Griff Lodge

Path along the edge of Blackdale Howl Wood
Path along the edge of Blackdale Howl Wood

A remnant of the WW2 army camp in Blackdale Howl Wood
A remnant of the WW2 army camp in Blackdale Howl Wood

This part of the wood is the site of a World war 2 army camp. It's one of many where troops we housed, dispersed across the country, awaiting the order to move to their port of embarkation for the 'D-day' landings.

After our break we continued along the Cleveland Way, and after about 400m we crossed a deep steep sided gully with steps down and back up again.

Steps down into a deep gulley in Blackdale Howl Wood
Steps down into a deep gully in Blackdale Howl Wood

Steps climbing out of a deep gulley in Blackdale Howl Wood
Steps climbing out of a deep gully in Blackdale Howl Wood

Cleveland Way path across the fields into Helmsley
Cleveland Way path across the fields into Helmsley


Cleveland Way path along the track into Helmsley

Stone marker at the start/end of the Cleveland Way in Helmsley
Stone marker at the start/end of the Cleveland Way in Helmsley

At the car park we left our gear in the car and walked into the town for a coffee and a sandwich before driving home. The whole route had been about 11km and it had taken us three and a half hours to walk.

We continued along the edge of the woos and then across the fields back to the long stay car park in Helmsley. As we entered the car park we passed the large stone marker for the end of the Cleveland Way.

Helmsley Castle seen from the Cleveland Way
Helmsley Castle seen from the Cleveland Way

Entering the long stay car park in Helmsley
Entering the long stay car park in Helmsley

Helmsley Castle
Helmsley Castle

The Market Square in Helmsley
The Market Square in Helmsley

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