Helmsley Castle, Rievaulx Abbey and the International Birds of Prey Centre

I am finally back online and feeling less stressed and busy enough to start again, so I apologise for the glut of blogs appearing to catch myself up! Half term may have been 2 weeks ago now, but it was honestly lovely. I decided to book a one night trip away to Helmsley, after visiting on a school trip recce and realising once again how just damn nice North Yorkshire is. After a hair-raising drive up Sutton Bank to get there, as the car is far too old to be doing such steep hills, we arrived at sunny Helmsley ready to explore the area. We grabbed a quick picnic lunch from Hunters of Helmsley, which was delicious and had me dithering for ages over their vast choice of fillings, and headed towards the castle. Again making the most of my English Heritage card I got over excited showing the boyfriend around- he was basically my guinea pig for the year 7 trip to the castle a few weeks later. Although there isn’t loads of the castle left, it’s a lovely old ruin and plenty to look around for an hour or so. The audio guides that are provided are really good and make the place come to life a lot more than the boards dotted around the site. Since it was such a nice day, we decided to walk along the Cleveland Way towards Rievaulx Abbey, for a bit more history. It took us about an hour at a stroll pace and there was only one bit of hill, so quite a nice walk in the sunshine. I half remembered the abbey from a childhood visit, and it turned out to be much better than I remembered. Again, the audio tours were fab and I must have spent ages going around and learning about the whole site. Thankfully, the boyfriend also can be a bit of a history nerd at times and so was equally interested! Even if you’re not into the history side of things, it is a beautiful site to wander around and feels very peaceful still. The boyfriend decided to indulge our childishness at the gift shop and bought ‘Lamby’ as our adventure mascot- basically the boyfriend hates having his picture taken and so can be replaced by Lamby in photographs. We stayed at the Royal Oak Hotel, which is a pub with rooms above it and is actually very nice. Prices is Helmsley are high since it is so touristy, and it was the best value we could find. Saying that, the food was excellent- lasagne and a pizza for dinner and amazing fried breakfasts in the morning. It was a little noisy if you wanted an early night- it is about a pub after all, but was a really nice room and the owner was a lovely lady who really looks after you. Early morning saw the boyfriend getting over excited for the International Bird of Prey Centre, and I have to admit it was a good one. There are so many different birds from tiny owls to sea eagles and vultures, and just enough information about them to let you know a bit but not bore you. The highlight was obviously the display where we saw a yellow billed kite, a barn owl and two hawks. The owl was fabulous and flew right between then benches so almost touching us, and the two guys doing it were very good. Although one hawk decided to disappear into the trees we hung around and got really close when she finally came back. Overall, Helmsley is lovely and well worth a visit even if just to one of the amazing bakeries around the main square. However, being a bit small I probably wouldn’t stay for much longer than one night. Besides, there are loads of other places to explore first!

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