Cleveland Way – Helmsley to Sutton Bank

Louise Graydon is a wonderful rambler and dear friend who has been talking about the Cleveland Way for months. So, today will be the first day of a ten day hike that she’s planned based, more or less, on the traditional maps that were established in May 1969 when the Beatles and Billy Preston were ‘Getting Back’, Tommy Roe was ‘Dizzy’ and The Isley Brothers were ‘Behind a Painted Smile’. We’re all quite excited and very much grateful for the invitation to join her.

We assemble in the car park at Helmsley and check the prices. At £6 for over six hours we feel it’s a bit steep and when another ‘careful Yorkshireman arrives he mentions that parking on the road is free so several seconds later we parked on the Church Street and High Street saving eighteen quid in total.

After a brief pause, we discover Lou is at the Cross in the Market Square waiting for us as we sit outside the toilets at the Cleveland Way car park waiting for her!

This could have taken some time but after a quick chat and an observation that the walk is listed as beginning where Lou, Elizabeth and Heather are currently patiently waiting so they initiate the start from there.

The weather is unbroken sunshine although there is a threat of a shower. Peter assembles us under the shade of some young trees all sporting their new summer clothing of various shades of green. With all of his years taking wedding photographs Peter had spotted that the softer light would result in a picture with subjects that are not squinting and it reduces the possibility of panda eyes, the excellent results are evident in the photos that he takes.

There is another group of people starting this leg of the walk but within a mile or so they’re well behind us. I see sheep and lambs poking their heads from under the hedge. The lambs are inquisitive but the older and very slightly wiser ewes eye us with suspicion and round up the little ones and quickly recover them into the adjacent field. Lambs are a delight to the eye as they gambol in the sunshine and they remind me of childhood days in blue sky weather through summers that seemed to last such a long time. The scene is framed with trees of different species and whilst this seems mundane, it isn’t. We tend to have woodland that’s planted and invariably pine. This is Black Dale How Wood, it’s deciduous, largely broad-leaved, varied and beautiful. It adjoins a group of similar woods that cling to the banks of Ryedale and the river Rye. They’re contained by bursts of a dry stone wall in varying states of repair but even where it’s falling apart it’s still interesting as lichen and moss adorn the elements that are in the shade. We walk adjacent to the wood at the edge of the field and enjoy the smells of both wood and grass as we give silent thanks for such an idyllic scene.

Click on any image and you can page through them full size…

Another turn left into the wood and down some very slippery steps that lead through a glade with the sun shining through the trees and lighting sunbeams of moist air and insects like a scene from a children’s storybook.

At the valley floor, there is very little flat area and we’re almost immediately starting our ascent on greasy steps that need a little care due to the rain that we’ve had over the last couple of days. At the top we pause for breath and allow time for the team, which had begun to string out a little bit, to regroup.

Out of the shallow gorge, we’re on the flat with more wood to our left and open fields to our right with blue skies and the odd cumulus in the distance, after several days of torrential rain this is wonderful. We pass Griff Lodge then begin our descent through Whinny Bank Wood. There’s wild garlic down here and it’s in full bloom; the smell is pungent and glorious and the conversation is re-programmed to discussions about the relative merits of wild garlic flavoured soup and salads that are both flavoured with the leaves and decorated with the lovely flowers. We decide on both.

At the bottom of the track, it joins the interesting stretch of road called Ingdale Howl leading to the turn for Rievaulx Abbey which we ignore in favour of the Cleveland Way over the lovely little bridge. We take a little bit of time to admire the garden of the house on the right. It has some beautiful plants but also the added advantage of a stream running through with its own little waterfall as it meets the River Rye.

Onwards again now with Ashberry Hill on our right then we turn right and back onto tracks and lanes through Nettle Dale with some animal and bird reserves on the right. This is a very formal dale with what looks like planted woods on either side. The upside is that they’re broad-leafed as well as the faster-growing pines. We turn right and begin a steady ascent on a good track towards Cold Kirby. There is a huge display of wild garlic and at the top of the bank the fields open out but disappointingly the weather is moving from the open blue skies of the morning to threatening cloud and a noticeable wind.

We take a short break in Cold Kirby then, as we leave the village, take a left and head towards the glider-drome. There are log cutting machines in the woods as we pass and the smell is evocative of the joiners workshops that we would visit when I was a child, I love this

The weather is getting a little colder but we’re only a half-hour away from the cafe at Sutton Bank and the completion of this leg.

This is just over 8 miles (13km) and will get your heart rate up but is not difficult.

Enjoy the snaps…G..x


For information…

The Cleveland Way

Was the ‘second’ national trail eventually being approved in 1969? It was first mooted by the Teesside Ramblers in the 1930s who pressed for a long-distance path to link Hambleton Drovers Road with other tracks along the Cleveland escarpment and other footpaths on the Yorkshire coast. It stemmed from a proposal presented to the North Riding County Council in 1953 so it was a long time in the making but entirely worthwhile. It stretches from Helmsley to Filey and winds its way around the periphery and sometimes over the North Yorkshire Moors then hugs the coast from Saltburn to Filey. It is 110 miles long and is very scenic. Most people walk it in sections by driving to a start point and walking 10 or so miles then returning to that point at a later day and doing it all over again. The rest bite the bullet and set off in either Helmsley or Filey and reach the other end in 9 or 10 days.

The ‘first’ national trail was the Pennine Way  and it was established over a number of years and the final section declared open in 1965.


Historically, many towns were established or indeed, ‘happened’ because of the physical surroundings. For instance, a fork in the river that would make it easy to defend, a crossing where a ferryman could ply his trade or a road or track junction. In the instance of this lovely town, it was both a river crossing and a junction, it’s also on the southern edge of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park and for us, its importance is the start of the Cleveland Way (or the end if you start in Filey).

Cold Kirby has a motley history from 1086 when Henry 11 granted to Robert de Stuteville who later gave it to the Knights Templar until they were dissolved when it returned to the Crown in 1312. At one point it belonged to the Archbishop of York and passed through various hands and five years ago the Lord of the Manor was Mr H. W. F. Bolckow.

Please share as some folks are less able and can’t do these walks. They also enjoy the banter and photos.

Commercial use needs written permission.

If you ‘like’ my Facebook page you’ll receive a message when new posts are added…
Click here:

If you prefer, leave a comment and receive an email to let you know about new posts both can be turned off as you wish.

This is life after an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm open repair. Don’t be afraid of the operation, it set me free. Please be encouraged and inspired to walk, it’s liberating.
You can read about it here:


The next stage is here:

1 thought on “Cleveland Way – Helmsley to Sutton Bank”

Please comment - I love comments...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.