Beautiful Ash Dale at Helmsley is a lovely place to walk. The woods in spring and early summer are full of life. Start by walking up the river (stream really) and returning via the higher land.
Looking at the map of Helmsley there are two obvious walks. One includes a visit to Rievaulx Abbey. The other heads in to the wooded dales to the north of Helmsley. It is this walk that I explored and enjoyed on a pleasant autumn day. It starts along the surprisingly open valley floor of Collier Hag Wood. From here it crosses over a low ridge to the neighbouring Ash Dale.
The pretty little stream in Hag Wood is enchanting, partially because the woods have been cut back on the valley floor but also because of the numerous pheasants which have made their home here. Ash Dale meanwhile is quite a contrast, there is no stream and the track feels enclosed by the forestry despite being only a few trees thick. The wide paths though make Ash Dale from Helmsley a very pleasant half day walk from the busy market town.
Helmsley itself is an attractive market town and acts as a good base for a short break holiday. In addition to the walks there is a castle and a large market square.
I first did the walk in the Autumn. As a result this may have been a error as I am led to believe there is a wonderful carpet of blue bells in both dales during the early summer.
The Tabular Hills walk completes a full circuit of the North York Moors when it is combined with the Cleveland Way. The two walks meet at Helmsley. The return to Helmsley above Ash Dale on this walk follows part of the Tabular Hills walk.
This is the second of the walks that I have tried, again for me a local walk (though not quite as local as Stonegrave and the Rye). There was a very stiff breeze on the day that I first walked it, but, except for the sound of the wind in the trees at the top of the valley sides, you wouldn’t have known it since the valleys are so sheltered.
I walked it in the direction given in the guide and, unlike some of the previous commentators, found no difficulty in following the route. The route is clearly signposted and follows the gpx exactly. Steve Dunn in his comment apparently missed the top section out, the map is correct.
As you walk to the top of Beckdale, the track rises steeply up the valley side, as the track begins to level out you take a left turn, following a path up the bank and through the top of the woods before taking the footpath across three fields then down the lane to pick up the track into Ash Dale. It sounds as if Steve missed this footpath and instead followed the vehicle track out of the wood.
The walk up Beckdale was the more pleasant of the two. The pheasant ‘cannon fodder’ that others have remarked upon was there in abundance, you could almost pick it up off the floor, and an abundance of songbirds. I managed to spook a couple of deer who were off almost before I had spotted them.
Ashdale was more of a disappointment. The walking underfoot was more difficult due to the road recently having been ‘improved’ for use by forestry vehicles, the hardcore used being a very coarse grade. Also, due to the ravages of Chalara, Ash trees are almost non existent in the dale now and I suspect, given a couple more years, that the name Ash Dale will only exist to remind us of the trees that once flourished here. There was less wildlife in Ash Dale, although I did see some partridge, one of whom let me approach within two feet to allow me to take his photo.
Very pleasant walk from Helmsley, but we only did the first half properly as the map is misleading where you start coming back. When you get to the end of the track at the top of the hill, you have to cross a couple of fields to get to the road (Baxton’s Sprunt.) However the map shows the trail going down that road then off to the left to get into Ash Dale. This is wrong. There is a footpath sign almost directly across the road when you get to it (we ignored it as the map showed down the road.) You need to follow that to get into the Ash Dale woods (checked it on OSM maps later – unfortunately the track didn’t show when we checked it during the walk!) That being said, the walk back along the road was lovely (its a very quiet road) and we tried a foray across a field to try to find the trail – no use of course, but we did see a large hare as well as dozens of pheasants and a rabbit during the detour.
We started walking into the woods and followed the Footpath signs all the way to the top; but we did not see the sign that leads as ‘back’ through Ash Dale… On the top of the hill there’s a road turning right, and there’s a ‘Private’ sign; the straight on through the gate is a wide field (saw a few peasants). Are we supposed to walk through the field in order to make the turn to Ash Dale? Thanks!
We have a dog and want to stay in Helmsley. We want to know if we can walk straight out of the Inn or Hotel and Helmsley each day with the dog. We do not want to have to use the car to get to the walks.
Not a problem, there are plenty of walks direct from Helmsley on to footpaths including this one
My husband and I did this walk in reverse today and found it a very pleasant and easy walk. Lots of wildflowers and greenery around – buttercups, beaked parsley, forget-me-nots, red and white clover (scenting the air), also still some wild garlic – also scenting the air! I think the highlight was encountering the “pheasantarium” – as my husband dubbed it! – and making our way through it, with hundreds (if not thousands!) of young pheasants scuttling around, taking dust baths and disappearing into the bracken-cloaked daleside. Such a pity that these cute and comical birds are being reared as “cannon fodder” for so-called sportsmen! I’m sure this walk would be ideal for a hot summer’s day where plenty of shade would be afforded by the shady wooded areas through which the trail passes and the reward of a scrumptious ice cream on returning to Helmsley!
My partner and I did this walk over the weekend and it was excellent. There was some snow cover and we only came across other people foot prints in the last mile. We’re not experienced walkers but we found the route easy. There was only one steepish section, which was slightly slippy when covered with snow. We saw all kinds of wildlife, including several deer. Great walk especially when finished off with afternoon tea in Helmsley.
It maybe my lack of geographical knowledge, but I would be hard pressed to pin point Helmsley, on a map. Before I go to bed tonight, I will find out, it has not been specified on your site. I live in Keighley, west yorkshire, so maybe I should feel a little ashamed of my ignorance. If I walk into a fish shop I would expect to see vinegar on the counter. If I did come from london , perhaps it would help, if I knew its relative position to leeds or york. Ah! I see its twenty miles due north of york[ I had to look on a map in my Atlas, pity about that londoner who wanted to visit Helmsley, who only had a computer!
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