Rievaulx Terrace, Helmsley

Rievaulx Terrace sits on the hill above Rievaulx Abbey. Thomas Duncombe the Third, the owner of Duncombe Park, created this neo-classical garden in 1758. The National Trust owns the site and access is free for members, non-members must pay the entrance fee. If you are combining a visit here with a trip to Rievaulx Abbey, the two sites are only a short walk or car ride apart.

The site allows Dogs as long as they are on a lead. The terrace closes during wintertime.


Rievaulx Terrace is easy to find, on a minor road, just off the B1257, two miles north-west of Helmsley (Post Code: YO62 5LJ).

This part of Yorkshire is covered by the Explorer OL26 Ordnance Survey map. The map displays the western area of the North Yorkshire Moors, the Cleveland Hills, and a section of the Howardian Hills. With this map, you also get a code for use on your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. The OS Explorer map for the North Yorkshire Moors – Western Area is available in both the standard paper version and weatherproof ‘Active’ version

There is a walking route from Helmsley to Rievaulx, this is described in my post about Rievaulx Abbey and it also forms part of the Helmsley to Sutton Bank section of the Cleveland Way.

Once inside the grounds stroll through some woods which are alive with garlic and wildflowers in springtime or all the fabulous colours of autumn later in the year. This a lovely introduction before you enter the terrace itself. As you leave the woods walk out onto a grass-covered terrace.

Tuscan Temple

Once on the terrace, you’ll see a classical Ionic Temple at one end. This faces a Tuscan Temple at the other end, 700m away. Rich plasterwork decorates the walls and ceiling of the Tuscan Temple. Thirteenth-century tiles from nearby Byland Abbey cover the floor. Sadly, it’s not possible to go inside the temple, so this all has to be admired through the windows.

Ionic Temple

The Ionic Temple at the other end is presumably where the Duncombe family and their guests would eat after a walk along the Terrace. The interior was lavish and would have definitely have impressed their guests. Beautiful furniture and ceramics fill the room, with the main feature the intricate ceiling paintings. Beneath the Ionic Temple, there is an exhibition space to learn more about the Terrace and Temples.

Strolling along the terrace between the two buildings you’ll notice that it is carefully crafted so that a different perspective opens up as you walk along. There are amazing bird’s eye views of the Rye Valley and the entire Rievaulx Abbey site.

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