Until this year in August, I have not been back.
Now, getting into the car after our walk down from Sutton Bank, Aunt J and Uncle B suggested we drive to Helmsley for something to eat.
Of course, the ruins of the castle are what I remembered best about this pretty market town of just above 1.500 inhabitants (I'd call it a village at that size, but it counts as a town, administratively speaking):
Although there had been a wooden castle on the same place since around 1120, the remains of the East Tower now visible give something of an idea of what the castle looked like in the 1270s. Ownership changed frequently until in 1644, during the English Civil War, the castle was deliberately made unusable so as not to constitute a military advantage anymore. It has lain in ruins ever since and left to decay until English Heritage took over its care.
I remember Steve and I paying admission fee at a tiny wooden shed and then wandering around on our own for as long as we pleased. Now, there is a big, modern visitor centre between the car park and the castle. We didn't go in, since our main interest at the moment was finding somewhere to eat, but it certainly looked interesting enough to go back some other time.
On our way into the town centre around the market square, we came across this garden with beautiful sweet peas and scarecrows in Medieval costume:
Across a little beck, which I also remembered from my first visit:
We had sandwiches and tea/coffee at a nice, not too busy place (it was long past lunch time anyway). Afterwards, we went for a stroll across the market and along some of the narrow streets leading off it. The flowers on the shop fronts were impossible not to notice:
The Church of All Saints was where we went next. A lot of what you see there today was done in the late 19th century, but the original building is many centuries older: already since before the Norman Conquest, there was a church at this place, and one is mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086.
Outside in the church yard, a particularly handsome building caught our eyes. I climbed on the top of a small mound of earth (don't worry, I did not misuse a tombstone!) to look over the wall and take the last picture:
And as if all this - Coxwold, Kilburn, The White Horse, Sutton Bank, the woodland walk and Helmsley - were not enough, we managed to top it all by our next and last stop on that wonderful outing. You'll see what I mean in my next post.