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Rievaulx Abbey/photo by Arnold Underwood/Sept 2017

Sitting Duck/from a photo by Arnold Underwood/Sept 2017

NORTH YORK MOORS - Rievaulx & Nettle Dale

As featured in the Nov 2018 issue of Country Walking Magazine

Around Rievaulx

A walk packed with variety - dales and hills, river and woods, and two historic sites. You may need to spend extra time exploring Rievaulx Abbey and/ or Rievaulx Terrace especially if you are a English Heritage or National Trust member. This walk should be taken at a leisurely pace allowing a full day if including visits to the historic sites.

Fact File

Distance 7 miles/ 12.0km
Time 4 hours
Grade *** Moderate
Map OS Explorer OL26 North York Moors (West)
Parking Rievaulx Terrace - Free parking (for visitors to National Trust Rievaulx Terrace).
Pay & Display parking at Rievaulx Abbey (refunded to English Heritage members and to visitors to Abbey).
'Overspill' car park next to Abbey at busy times (Parking Fee)
Start Rievaulx Terrace
Terrain Walking mostly on field and woodland paths and tracks - with a steep climb up to Rievaulx Terrace
nearest Town Helmsley
Refreshments Tearoom at Rievaulx Abbey
Public Toilets At Rievaulx Abbey and Rievaulx Terrace
Public Transport None, although Moorsbus M4 operates on Summer Sundays and Bank Holidays to/from Helmsley (May - September)
Moorsbus logo - see www.moorsbus.org or Telephone 01751 477216.
Suitable for all
Stiles 2

Route created using TrackLogs Digital Mapping

Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

  1. (Start) From the parking spaces at Rievaulx Terrace (NT) walk back along the access road to the main B1257 road. Turn right and cross farm road to discover a footpath gate under trees. This gives access to a permissive path provided by the National Park along the field thus avoiding walking alongside the busy road, which is popular with motor-cyclists at weekends. It's about a mile along field side parallel with the road to the corner by a small tree plantation. Here turn right following the field edge downhill, leaving the traffic noise behind you and a great panoramic view ahead over the Hambleton Hills and Ryedale. Cross minor road and continue ahead down the long access road towards Griff Farm. At the bottom before reaching the farm bear right towards a gate in the corner. Continue ahead and at next gate turn L down field side, passing pond and then L again at bottom. Join track from Griff Farm and walk down to Griff Lodge, a gatehouse to Duncombe Park which occupies the area of Ryedale ahead.

  2. (1 miles/3.6km) At cross-track turn R joining Cleveland Way and the route of the popular walk from Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey. Enter woodland and commence a long downhill into Ryedale. At the road the path keeps off the tarmac for a while before you are forced to join the road. Take care from here to Rievaulx Bridge as this narrow road will be busy with visitors to the Abbey as well as local farm traffic. On right there is a good view along the dale to the imposing abbey, but we will visit this later. At the road junction continue ahead across Rievaulx Bridge over the River Rye. Pause to admire the garden of the cottage by the river then continue along the narrow road. Pass the next junction, with the white painted Ashberry Farm to your right and reach a L bend. Here leave the road and continue ahead following Cleveland Way through gate into Nettle Dale.

  3. (3 miles/8km) In Nettle Dale you pass a series of ponds, thought to be former fishponds for the monks of Rievaulx. Beyond the ponds you come to a junction of five rights-of-way. Bear R (Cleveland Way) across stepping-stones then in a few yards R again leaving the Cleveland Way, and cross footbridge effectively doubling back. Walk back to edge of the fishpond, which is home to scores of ducks and turn L up a grassy swathe through the wooded hillside onto a ridge about 550ft above sea level. At the top, at a signpost with a duck (decoy!) sitting on the top, turn right alongside stone wall and through gate.

  4. (5 miles/9km) Keep alongside wall into second field then L through gate and head straight towards Reins Farm. Walk between barns and bear R past farmhouse on farm road. This road drops down through Reins Wood, crosses the beck at the bottom, and then up the other side, meeting a road at the top. Turn L up this narrow road and in about 100yds take the farm road R (SP Tylas Farm). Head downhill into Ryedale and at the bottom at junction with another track, turn R. Follow this track towards Rievaulx, crossing the historic Bow Bridge over the River Rye. As the lane begins to climb take the way-marked path through the second gate on the right. This path takes you close to the river then across meadows with the imposing ruins of the Abbey directly ahead. You are walking parallel to the line of a canal that was used to bring stone for the building of the abbey in the 12th century. The ground can be boggy here. Go through gate, cross stream near stables, and emerge on the road in Rievaulx village.

  5. (6 miles/9km) This walk continues up through the village, but first you should visit the Abbey if only to use the facilities at the new English Heritage Rievaulx Visitor Centre. So turn R along road for about 200yds to the Abbey. Now retrace your steps along the road up into the village. You are not far now from Rievaulx Terrace, but this is still about 250ft above you - it can be glimpsed through the trees above the Abbey. The road climbs steeply through the village passing the village hall (L) and church (R). At the start of woodland, a signpost R points the way of a permissive path to Rievaulx Terrace. This path zig-zags steeply up the wooded hillside to emerge at Rievaulx Terrace with the National Trust entrance R and car parking to the left.
    Time permitting, you should visit the Terrace and Temple for the birds-eye view of Ryedale and the Abbey. This can add up to a mile onto the length of your walk. (7 miles/ 12.0km)

    Permissive path to Griff Lodge/photo by Arnold Underwood/Sept 2017

    Along the Way

    The optional extension onto Rievaulx Terrace (National Trust - Admission Fee for non-members). Described as "one of Ryedale's true gems". Stroll through woods on to the terrace, with stunning views down over the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey.
    Visiting Rievaulx Abbey (English Heritage - Admission Fee for non-members). Rievaulx Abbey, founded in 1132, was the first Cistercian abbey to be established in the north of England. It quickly became one of the most powerful monasteries in Britain, housing a 650-strong community at its peak. It was closed by Henry VIII in 1538 as part of the Suppression of the Monasteries.

    Arnold Underwood & Suzie Watson (Sept 2017)

This page was created by
Arnold Underwood

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