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The Insiders’ Guide to Helmsley – top tips from those in the know


Whether you’re looking at one of the prestigious new homes on Wharfedale Homes’ Swanland Road development, or you’ve been eyeing up For Sale signs in the windows of Cundalls or Boulton & Coopers, moving home is an exciting time!

But sometimes, when you move to a new area, everything can seem daunting – from finding out where’s easy to grab a few essentials to knock up a quick meal, to knowing the best place to go for a haircut or finding out what clubs run which you or your family might want to join.

In Helmsley we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and friendly community, and we’re delighted you’ve decided to join us – whether you’re a new resident, business owner or visitor! (If we do our job right, the latter will want to become the former!)

So, we asked the lovely people of Helmsley in Business for their top tips for someone new to the area – hopefully these will help you settle in in no time. If you want to find out any more information, all the tip-givers are happy for you to pop in for a chat, anytime.

Steve Ridley General Manager, The Feathers Hotel, Eatery & Coffee House

“My three top tips are:

– For a tasty, filling sandwich or pastry – there is nowhere better than Hunters of Helmsley in the Market Place.

– Try a local ale at Helmsley Brewery – a tasty tipple brewed right on site!

– Why not watch the world go by whilst enjoying a stunning afternoon tea at the Black Swan Tea Rooms?

That’s a great day there!”

Shane White, Company Chef Manager, Scotts Fish & Chips

“When you need a sugar fix head straight for the Helmsley Traditional Sweet Shop! A trip down memory lane with loads of high quality confectionary, guaranteed to make your mouth water. Chose as little or as many as you desire and they also do great gift boxes crammed with tempting treats. The perfect present!” 

Katie Atkinson, owner of KVA Planning Consultancy

“If you are heading into the town centre, you are sure to be greeted by a warm smile and see someone you know in this friendly town. If you fancy a little slice of Italy, you can stay right here in Helmsley and visit the Fat Chef at Geppetto’s. And for the perfect spot to enjoy the late summer sun, after school take the children down to the cascades at Duncombe Park. Bliss!”

Tony Porter, owner of Porters Coffee Shop

“There’s always something going on at the popular Helmsley Arts Centre – the cinema, local productions and talks, and it’s right in the middle of Helmsley. As a very practical tip, BATA filling station is the only place in town to fill up with petrol, but it’s usually at the same price or cheaper than the big supermarkets, so excellent value, and it’s often open late. We also have great medical facilities in Helmsley – the doctors and nurses at the practice are great and there’s also an excellent dentist in town.”

Charlie Heap , director at the National Centre for Birds of Prey.

“The riverside walk in Duncombe Park is fantastic. And if you like the park and are a frequent visitor, remember you can get an annual season ticket for the National Centre for Birds of Prey from only £36 – and you can visit the largest collection of raptors in the north as often as you like. It’s only a 10 minute stroll from Helmsley (or 2 minute drive), so couldn’t be more on the doorstep!”

Andy Mardle, co-owner of Libby Butler Jewellers

“Meet the friendly locals at the brewery on a Friday teatime when there’s always a crowd in, you can even turn up alone because you always find someone to chat to at the bar.  Just be prepared to stand up, there’s not many seats and it’s always busy!  I’d recommend a pint of Striding the Riding (the official beer of the Cleveland Way) brewed on site. If you haven’t sampled too much of the local beer, get up early and walk up Beckdale to see deer and other woodland wildlife up really close – but there’s lots of great walks all around. Nearly everyone here has a dog so lots of businesses (including ours) welcome dogs – it’s surprisingly dog friendly compared to other towns. (By the way, you’ll find the Vets in Station road if you need them for any pets). Dogs always get a gravy bone from Jess at Elijah Todds too, so it’s a great place to pick up your newspaper order, although they do deliver too!” 

Carolyn Frank, co-owner of Libby Butler Jewellers  

“I’d recommend Hannah at Beautylicious for manicures, Julie at Viva Hair for haircuts and colour, Anna at Alphabet Skin for facials and if you need top to toe pampering a Verbena Spa day at the Feversham Arms or the Thursday evening ‘spa by candlelight’ is pure relaxation. I always ask friends and family for vouchers as gifts so I can sneak off for treatments when I find time. Thomas’ butchers is great for a quick tea if you’re in a hurry, go in and ask Mark for a quick meal idea and he always comes up with something delicious. Marleys at the bridge is also brilliant, we’re really spoilt for choice in Helmsley – our Christmas duck from Richard was amazing.  Both butchers do all sorts to order as well as the counter offer, so if you want anything extra specially prepared or sourcing, it’s there within days.”

Lisa Kozakova, business development manager at the Feversham Arms Hotel and Verbena Spa

“We all can’t wait till it gets warm enough for us to pop across the road and treat ourselves to a gorgeous ice-cream at Ryeburn of Helmsley.  Anything with honeycomb is always a favourite. For amazing value gifts head over to the Cut Price Book Shop – I’ve found some fantastic books for my little girl, so much cheaper than anywhere else. The walk to Rievaulx Abbey is always popular with our guests – the circular route takes in so many different views and is perfect to stretch the legs without being too strenuous.”

Mandy Silk, owner of Viva Hair

I live and work here and love it! The best thing about Helmsley is Duncombe Park. Thankfully we are allowed to walk the dog in the grounds all year round. There are so many walks in all directions. There are also so many unique shops in Helmsley selling such a variety of products – it’s a great meeting point for a mooch about. I love a cuppa and a treat at Porters Coffee Shop. To work them off, there’s exercise classes at Helmsley Sports club on Mondays and Thursdays, which are great. And last, but definitely not least, – don’t forget the Helmsley Arts Centre! It’s an amazing venue with a huge variety of art and entertainment from Bolshoi to Bowie. There’s something for everyone!”

Emma Woods, owner of Duncombe sawmill

“If you need pictures framing for your new house, visit Chris at Lazenby Visuals for great customer service. For amazing plants and inspiration for your new garden, visit Helmsley Walled Garden. For incredible views, walk from Duncombe Park to Rievaulx Terrace – stunning.”

Neil & Linda Jackson, owners of the Saltbox Gallery

“If you want to chill out and de-stress, have a walk around the delightful Helmsley Walled Gardens and buy a bag of chicken food from the counter to feed the chickens – works every time for us!”

Richa and Su Alderson, owners of the Honeysuckle Holiday Cottage

We have lots of top tips we love to pass on to holidaymakers staying in our cottage, but here are some of our favourites:

– Treat yourself to some Fish & Chips from Scotts and sit and eat them in the square and watch the world go by

– Take a walk up to the park on a summers evening – watch the cricket, play some football or go on the zip wire

– My favourite treat after cleaning the cottage is to head to Ryedale Ice Cream and decide which one of the 20 flavours I will have in my dipped chocolate cone

– We always stock up on pork chipolata sausages from the butchers in Thomas’s – even when the kids were at University they used to want us to get some!

– The Cut-Price Bookstore has so many fantastic sections with cooking, travel, kids, fiction… I think we have all of the cooking ones! It also sells cards and games (old and new) as well as jigsaws. 

– Helmsley has two swimming pools – brave the outdoor pool in the summer or treat yourself to a spa day and enjoy the pool/spa and sauna at The Feversham

Catriona McLees, head of tourism at the North York Moors National Park

“In May don’t miss a walk through the carpets of sweet-scented bluebells in Riccal Dale in the North York Moors National Park. Find the hidden dale just north of Helmsley on Carlton Road, where there’s a small car park at Cowhouse Bank.”

 One top tip from us all that’s not so secret – make sure you follow @VisitHelmsley on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with events, news and activities happening in town. It’s a great way to keep on top of what’s on!

And finally – welcome to Helmsley! We look forward to meeting you soon.