Helmsley has always had the feel of being a market town ‘champ’. It is lovely to visit and definitely one of those ‘I think I could live here’ kind of places. Folks flock to soak up the vibe of what is the only market town in the North York Moors National Park because of its charm, country character, good shops, cracking pubs and brilliant eating places.

Whether you like Michelin-mentioned food, a great sausage roll, a posh picnic or a mouth-watering afternoon tea with lashings of cake, this town serves you well, which is part of the appeal.

Great British Life: The stream running through the town. kgphotographyThe stream running through the town. kgphotography

Pensioner pals on a day out rub along with tweedy country folk, leather-clad bikers, hiking retirees, or the new breed of young foodie staycationer. It is a place everyone can find something to please.

For a small town Helmsley really packs a punch. It looks as though you could walk round in half an hour but it is very easy to spend a day here and not repeat yourself. The mighty castle, run by English Heritage is a good place to wander – and enjoy great views of your surroundings. From there you might be seduced by the parkland of historic Duncombe Park, the path to Rievaulx Abbey or the gateway to Helmsley Walled garden. That's before you’ve walked into town and been lured by the aroma of a sourdough bacon buttie or the whiff of the microbrewery. Not to mention a luxurious outdoor pool in one of the town’s chic hotels - or the town’s own seasonal outdoor pool.

Great British Life: A gorgeous place to live.kgphotography.co.ukA gorgeous place to live.kgphotography.co.uk


At Christmas the town comes into its own with independent stores that offer a warm welcome. It is one those places where you can take a decent walk then shop, mooch, stoop for a coffee then repeat.

New stores are opening up all the time – Fairfax and Favor has found a niche on Market Square selling its high end shoes, accessories and leather goods. In an old bank on Castlegate, Crowberry Wood is a good-looking shop from the outside and a cave of treats inside. Selling country-ish clothing, accessories and homewares, it’s the brainchild of its North Yorkshire owner Charlotte Taylor who is on a mission to offer something ‘not the norm’ - need a Helmsley Union Jack cushion? You’ll find one. Nearby Lemon is also a friend to the lady who lunches in Helmsley with accessories, loungey knits, poncho and jewellery.

Great British Life: Crowberry Wood is one of Helmsley's newest independent stores. NQCrowberry Wood is one of Helmsley's newest independent stores. NQ

Near Helmsley Arts Centre check out Court House Framers where the owner buys in and frames large vintage European travel, tourism and ski posters as well as music/festival posters – there's a great selection and they're very cool. Helmsley’s definitely a place of galleries and Saltbox is a good place to linger for anything from a birthday card to handmade jewellery and glass. Worth a visit too is the Look Gallery in Castlegate and N Galleries in Barker’s Yard.

Great British Life: One of the pretty shops in Helmsley. kgphotography.co.ukOne of the pretty shops in Helmsley. kgphotography.co.uk

If you’re in the mood for food, go fancy with a tasting menu at the new Pignut where chef Tom Heywood works the magic – or try Bantam where seasonal and local are the starting point for small or large plate dishes that are full of invention and flavour-packed.

Cafe-lovers will fall for much-loved Mannions or Feather Trail – or do try the Baker’s House which crafts gorgeous bakes, sourdough, scones and more – perfect for picnics.

Hunter’s of Helmsley is always on the radar for hampers and hero ingredients such as pork pies or own-cut hams and roast beef, cheeses and bakes – and an excellent gourmet food and wine store upstairs. Almost next door to the Helmsley Brewing Co with its bar is Nesfield & Piercy butcher – friendly chaps who know their stuff, and make awesome pies.

Great British Life: Properties in the attractive, well kept market town. kgphotographyProperties in the attractive, well kept market town. kgphotography

Bag a property

The buzzing town is definitely a property hotspot, and this is reflected in property prices. You can find cute cottages, handsome country houses, heritage character properties - as well as a surprisingly high number of new builds. The many surrounding villages such as Harome and Hawnby have pretty cottages and larger detached properties that are sought-after. The town’s amenties such as its arts centre, open air pool, heritage castle and proximity to walks and countryside make Helmsley ever-popular.

It’s not exactly a place for a commute: the nearest ‘big’ roads are the A19 and A1 and you’ll find main rail services from Thirsk or York. The coast at Scarborough is under an hour away. For schools, dip into Helmsley Community primary and nearby St Hilda’s Ampleforth CofE and secondary, just outside town, Ryedale School.

According to Rightmove Properties in Helmsley had an overall average price of £369,781 over the last year.The majority of sales in Helmsley during the last year were detached properties, selling for an average price of £499,900. Flats sold for an average of £161,800, with terraced properties fetching £281,525. Overall, sold prices in Helmsley over the last year were 4% up on the previous year and 6% down on the 2017 peak of £395,406.

Great British Life: The market place is a hive of activity.kgphotography.co.ukThe market place is a hive of activity.kgphotography.co.uk

Town Life

Christina Brion owns The Velveteen Bath House, a newly renovated property in Helmsley.

What I love about Helmsley is that it’s actually tiny but offers so much. Our first port of call is usually Mannion & Co for brunch. If you’re lucky enough to bag a table by the window you’ll have an uninterrupted view of Helmsley Castle. The Yorkshire Rarebit is absolute heaven.

Then we’ll spend a few hours wandering around the shops and honey-coloured sandstone buildings. The Saltbox Gallery is a favourite and I’m also partial to Carters Countrywear for a fix of traditional country clothing. If we’re with the girls, the Helmsley Bookshop and traditional sweet shop will feature. Afternoons might be spent wandering around the picturesque Walled Garden, with a coffee and scone at the Vinehouse Café. If we have Harry (our cavapoo) we’ll head out to Duncombe Park Estate on the edge of town. The walk along the river here towards Rievaulx Abbey is beautiful. As a reward afterwards we’ll pop into the Helmsley Brewery for a pint by the wood-burner or a cocktail or two at The Angel’s Share.

Great British Life: The Helmsley Brewing Co is a popular spot. kgphotography.co.ukThe Helmsley Brewing Co is a popular spot. kgphotography.co.uk