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Since 2004, beautiful Ryedale in North Yorkshire has been home to Bowley & Jackson. We opened our first store in Market Street, Malton in April of that year, and our second in Helmsley came two years later in 2006. As a child I remember glimpsing the domed tops of nearby Castle Howard from the A64 as we wound our way towards Whitby, but it was only in my early twenties that I became familiar with Malton and later Helmsley.
Both market towns are located within the Ryedale area, which stretches from the Vale of York to the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors national park. Surrounded by farming and rural based industries, both these traditional market towns retain their connections with agriculture. Although always a short break destination, in recent years a wealth of small independent shops, restaurants, and boutique hotels have sprung up making both Malton & Helmsley perfect for a day out or a holiday.
As our children routinely remind me, I'm not truly Yorkshire as I wasn't born here, but I like to think I have resided here long enough to be firmly acquainted with its charms, some obvious, some lesser known, here are some of my favourite places to visit, shop, eat and stay in Malton & Helmsley...
Let's start with Malton, home to Bowley & Jackson for 19 years, I hold huge affection for this once slight ugly duckling, now definitely swan of a town. Malton has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years and in acknowledgment of it's thrice yearly food festival, monthly food market and host of artisan food producers is dubbed Yorkshires's Food Capital.
Look no further than the Talbot Yard to experience the artisan food movement first hand, here you will find the butcher, baker (sadly no candlestick maker!) but a specialist gelato shop, coffee roaster and gin distillery. The sympathetically restored courtyard offers a lovely area to sit and enjoy the wares whilst looking out onto the Derwent valley below.
Across the road is the Talbot Hotel built from Georgian stone, it has undergone an extensive refurbishment, The Talbot offers wonderful French inspired interiors whilst maintaining a warm relaxed atmosphere, a great place from which to explore further...
Next stop The Library Bar...I mentioned lesser known charms. The Library bar is conveniently opposite Bowley & Jackson. Accessed via a secret door in McMillan's whisky shop, climb the stairs to a fabulous bar. The Library is the brainchild of James McMillan whose expertise in offering alcoholic beverages is easily matched by his prowess as an interior designer. This bar is beautifully fitted, featuring dark interiors with carefully curated vintage furniture. Sit in the window and people watch on Market Street below or squirrel yourself away in one of the many corners and enjoy the selection of beers, wines and artisan spirits.
On with the shopping and a meander up The Shambles is a must, dating from the eighteenth century, this once row of butchers shops is now an arcade featuring antique shops and small independent designers. I have an array of purchases in my home sourced from here ranging from bone handled cutlery, a walnut side table to original oil paintings. No visit to Malton is complete without a potter round The Shambles.
Malton is home to many independent shops including several home ware stores, ladies & gents clothing, vintage clothing, an independent bookshop, country clothing, a specialist soap store, deli's and art gallery's. The wonderful Georgian architecture and selection of great places to have coffee and lunch make for a memorable visit. Read my Where to lunch in Malton blog post from last year for the best places to eat.
The coast, York and the North York Moors are all within easy reach of Malton, but given half a chance I have two favorite destinations. The first is Scampston walled garden. Scampston Hall lies a couple of miles to the East of Malton and here lies the most Northern example of a Piet Oudolf designed garden. The garden is spectacular, particularly in the later Summer months and the small cafe serves light lunches and teas. Afterwards enjoy a stroll through the estate grounds.
No visit to Ryedale is complete without calling in at Castle Howard. A spectacular vision within the area of outstanding natural beauty that is The Howardian Hills. Enjoy the grounds and gardens or explore the interior. There is now a vast children's playground (though no amount of money will see me onto that bridge!). A busy all year round calendar offers everything from big name music concerts, open air cinema to Christmas Wonderland events. Or you can just pretend you're Sebastian Flyte...
Helmsley is breathtakingly beautiful, built from the same honey coloured stone, it is known as the Yorkshire Cotswolds. Central to the town is the picture postcard pretty market place surrounded by traditional pubs, cafes and the famous Black Swan Hotel. Helmsley has long been a popular ride out from both the North East and West Riding, providing a lovely day out. But post pandemic it is attracting an increasing number of visitors staying for a week at a time. With many of the hotels and accommodation in the area providing dog friendly rooms it must surely rank as one of the most dog friendly destinations in the country.
So, what to do in Helmsley? A walk around Helmsley on a sunny day is a wondrous thing, the town has a pleasant laid back feel to it and has some niche offerings in the way of shopping. The two well stocked deli's on the square offer fine food & drink from an assortment of Yorkshire producers, and as you would expect there are plenty of independent gift shops offering everything from jewellery and candles to handmade knitwear.
Bowley & Jackson resides on Church Street, alongside Twig & Twine florists, where Wendy produces wonderful naturalistic flowers for all occasions featuring locally grown blooms. And for really lovely stationary, cards and books look no further than Claridges, an independent store of many years, this lovely store is one of my favourites.
Helmsley offers lots of great places to eat, and for coffee, you won't go far wrong with Porters off Meeting House Lane, or Mannions which also offers a an ever changing lunch menu, inspired by seasonal produce.
For something more substantial to take you through to the evening, the locals favour La Trattoria and Bantham offering excellent Italian and European style menus respectively or for a traditional bar menu call at The Feathers on the square.
Aside from shopping & eating, a visit to Helmsley walled garden is highly recommended. Located just off the Cleveland Way this is a traditional walled garden filled with perennial borders, glasshouses and an orchard. The garden was rescued from disrepair in the mid nineties, and is run by a charitable trust with an aim to promote well being through horticulture. A wonderful garden worthy of visiting throughout the March to December open season. The Vinehouse cafe does a really good lunch offering using seasonal produce and there is also a shop and plant nursery.
Continue on The Cleveland Way to experience Rievaulx Abbey, the earliest Cistercian abbey in the North of Eangland. These dramatic ruins have been used countless times as film & TV locations, the abbey is of significant historical importance and also breathtakingly beautiful.
Many weekly markets have sadly been in decline in recent years, the Helmsley market is happily bucking this trend. The Friday market is bustling and offers fish, cheese, bakery and fruit and veg as well as a fantastic cashmere jumper stall, antiques and a plant/flower regular.
Finally, if you are stopping by in the Summer months check out Helmsley open air swimming pool, open from May through to September, it is Yorkshire's only open air 25m pool, you'll need to book though, it's popular with both visitors and locals, booking is online and can be organised ahead of your planned visit.
Of course, I would advise a visit to the home wares emporium that is Bowley & Jackson, we've been open for 19 years at Malton and 17 years at Helmsley. You can find our opening hours on the Our shops page on our website...let us know what you think of our local guide....