Many thanks to Evening Press reader Shamuna Aslam for the gist of this gourmet's gambol to Helmsley via Harome. Rather than gamble on the buses I have started you at Oswaldkirk, which is served by Moorsbuses from York, Helmsley and elsewhere.

We began at the bottom of Oswaldkirk Bank which seems perverse but gently avoids the main road. A nicer start than I had imagined along a fading road with yellow stone houses and colourful gardens to an old limestone quarry where a lame cow was sunbathing.

A quick dogleg over the B1257 connected us with a straight path over a very smooth and open hill. At the crest, the views are long to the moors. Tortoiseshell butterflies, woken from their hibernation, flitted along the hedge.

Pairs of hares scampered and jinked in telepathically close formation; rape fields were yellowing. All was well, but two points to note: the bridge over a stream is rusted through, and can be avoided by an adjacent scramble; and a birdscarer with 'Danger' on the barrel was operational a few paces from the path (a bang every 15 minutes), so don't be too distracted by the bluebell wood.

We reached the River Rye. You can ford its 30 feet but our side is the best. We stopped on a bridge to watch the wild brown trout. A skylark did a vertical take-off into the blue sky, yellowhammers lit up the hedges, and lapwings wheeled over Ryedale and we, stomachs rumbling, accelerated past Harome sidings to the Star Inn for a sunshine drink and a cheese sandwich under the thatched eaves.

Lest you think a sandwich a timid choice from a place recently awarded a Michelin Star, we can only plead that we had to walk, but I noticed that the delicious Montgommery Cheddar sells for £12.50 a kilo at the Star Inn Corner Shop.

Sated, we ambled back to Harome's village duck pond, bypassed a field of deer and followed the River Riccal (a stream) across some sweet little ridge and furrow fields. In a corner, being reabsorbed by the earth, is an ancient Fordson tractor, a memorial to the farmer who parked it there the last time.

Ten minutes on the back road to Helmsley brought the four-tractor choreography of large-scale potato planting. Then we followed a spring down to the Rye again. Here the river is fabulous, clear and convoluted, with ponds jammed with yellow flag irises where there are springs or oxbows. Helmsley Castle appeared briefly; half an hour on the Ebor Way and we were there.


When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.

1. From The Malt Shovel Inn, 100 yards to corner on hill, cross road, dead-end tarmac lane.

2. Stile near fieldgate and diagonally uphill, far side of quarry, stile in corner of field, right to road (verge) 200 yards.

3. Stile on left to field edge path (hedge to right) over brow of hill, then down.

4. Stile and right to wood-edge path (waymark), left at corner, 100 yards, decrepit footbridge (or step over stream), and right to field-edge track.

5. Left to track, left to path beside River Rye.

6. Footbridge over river and left, gate, 200 yards, fieldgate to track/road. Bridge then first road on left.

7. Pass pond, left by church to the Star Inn. Return to pond, stile to path beside it, footbridge and right and keep by River Riccal (stiles).

8. Left to road.

9. Fieldgate on left (bridleway sign) and downhill by fence and ditch, under railway bridge, 25 yards and right to path by River Rye.

10. Stile and right by trees. After sewage works, ignore track on right and stay by river until near the sawmill, then right at waymarked post, cross field to fieldgate and track, 25 yards, left (Ebor Way sign), 100 yards - pass Thomas the Baker, left and into Helmsley.

Fact file

Distance: Six miles.

Time: Three hours.

General location: Ryedale.

Start: By pub at Oswaldkirk.

Right of way: The complete route is along public rights of way.

Date walked: Saturday April 6 2002.

Road route: Moorsbus

Car parking: For those catching the bus from Helmsley: roadside or long-stay near castle, £2 for up to 6 hours.

Lavatories: Helmsley.

Refreshments: Pub at Oswaldkirk, pub or hotel at Harome, cafs and pubs at Helmsley.

Tourist and public transport information: Helmsley TIC 01439 770173. Moorsbus information 01845 597426 or

Oswaldkirk is on York to Helmsley C12 route, depart York on Sundays only at 10.15 and 14.20 (fair speed walkers!); the Malton to Helmsley M13 and the Northallerton to Helmsley M7 (via Coxwold). Buses from Helmsley back to York leave at 17.20 and 18.20, and on Sundays only at 11.35 and 15.35.

Map: Based on new OS Explorer OL 26 North York Moors western area (orange cover).

Terrain: Riverside mainly.

Points of interest: Defunct railway line. River Rye can be dry in a drought between Helmsley and Harome.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Dogs: Suitable.

Weather forecast: Evening Press and recorded forecast 0891 500 418.

Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.

Click here to view a map of the walk

Updated: 09:14 Saturday, April 13, 2002