The small market town of Helmsley in Ryedale is about half an hour drive north from York, on the edge of the North York Moors National Park.
It is a very pretty town and a magnet for visitors wanting a relaxing country break or who use it as a base for walking or other outdoor activities.
The Cleveland Way starts at Helmsley, before passing through the North York Moors, Cleveland Hills and down the coast to Filey.
In the area around Helmsley you can have a go at activities such as horse riding, clay pigeon shooting or off road driving, and nearby Dalby Forest is great for a family bike ride.
The town itself offers an eclectic mix of individual boutiques, antique shops and galleries as well as tea rooms, pubs, hotels, butchers and bakers.
The attractive market square, which holds the market every Friday, has a stream running round the back of it, and just off the market square is the pretty All Saints parish church.
Also in the town is the English Heritage-owned Helmsley Castle, which dates from the twelfth century and was once known as Furstan Castle. The castle has evolved over the centuries from a medieval fortress to a luxurious Tudor mansion to a civil war stronghold to a romantic Victorian ruin.
Duncombe Park on the edge of Helmsley is home to the Duncombe family and is usually open to visitors from April to October. There is plenty for all the family to see and do here, from looking round some magnificent rooms in the house filled with treasures from all ages, to the splendid gardens and parklands with picnic areas and adventure playground. There is also opportunity for refreshment in the tea room and chance to pick up a gift or souvenir in the shop.
Nestled between Duncombe Park and the castle is Helmsley Walled Garden. The five acre garden dates back to 1759 but after being neglected, restoration started in 1994 to return it to its original Victorian beauty. Now the aim of the garden is to restore it to full productivity, conserve old, rare and endangered plants and where possible use environmentally sustainable and organic techniques. It is also usually open from April to October.
If after exploring the historical sites in Helmsley you still want more, Rievaulx Abbey is only two and a half miles away. Rievaulx is one of the most complete and atmospheric abbey ruins in England and you can learn about its rich history before taking a walk around the attractive gardens or enjoying some delicious locally-made cake in the café.
So whether you want to spend a day wandering through the quaint streets of Helmsley, popping into shops and cafés at leisure, or want to explore historic buildings, or set off on more energetic pursuits, Helmsley is a good base for anyone.