Wednesday, 6 May 2009
Helmsley Walled Garden - A Yorkshire Treat
Yorkshire Dales National Park was the perfect destination for our first camping trip of 2009, and in that single long weekend we took in thousands of years of history. From the ruined Cistercian Abbey at Byland and Carthusian Priory at Mount Grace. Each is in its own oasis of tranquility that anchors you to the peace and solitude that brought those seeking spiritual quiet millenia ago. Then there was the far from ruined, truly thriving Benedictine community and Catholic college at Ampleforth with its stunning, soaring church.
But each of these tourist destinations has advantages over the one I'd like to share with you. To find any of the major National Trust or English Heritage sites you simply follow the brown signs. Don't expect to see brown signs though for Helmsley Walled Garden; this jewel of restoration wasn't sufficiently restored before the rules for signage in National Parks changed. The Helmsleyteam learnt they couldn't have signs and therefore miss out on the passing visitors who rely on signs to choose places worth visiting; and that is a shame.
Helmsley boasts an orchard of beautifully trained apple trees - old English varieties, the ones you won't get in Sainsburys - and a collection of Clematis that demonstrates why of all climbing flowers they are rightly the most popular. The gardens are a treat for anyone with a passing interest in horticulture - the white framed green houses backing on to the warm worn brick walls are testament to the skill of the gardeners that raise sufficient vegetables to keep the excellent vegetarian Cafe, The Vinery, in business.
And incidentally, even if you don't want to visit the garden, the cafe alone is worth going out of your way to for lunch.
Best of all though, wandering around, I couldn't help but have that lovely safe and warm feeling that you associate with childhood pleasures. I couldn't place it at first, but it finally came to me. It was the slow measured pace of an enclosed world, that relies on the rythmn of the seasons. It was really relaxing - that and the fact it reminded me of watching The Herbs and Hectors House as a child.
So how do you find it?
Take the B1257 for Stokesley and then look for the next car park (they are allowed to have signs apparently), once you've parked simply resist the tempation to pop into the nearby bakery for a curd tart and follow the hand made signs to the garden.