B1257, Helmsley to Stokesley, UK
You can tell there’s a good driving road nearby by the quality of superbikes in the local car parks. A second giveaway is the health and safety sign at the start of an inviting road screaming, ‘500 motorcycle casualties in the last five years’.
In North Yorkshire, the 19-mile stretch of the B1257 from Helmsley to Stokesley has both those things in quantity. Known as the Yorkshire TT, it starts in Helmsley marketplace, which on a sunny day, can be packed with bikers. Weekdays are best, as quantities of Fireblades attract ‘The Law’ at weekends.
We start by running northwards out of the car park and past the 30mph limit, the road immediately starting to climb out of the marketplace. It’s a long gradual ascent and we’re glad of the mid-range of the 996 Turbo, punching up the gradient. At the top of the hill, we drive past Rievaulx Abbey, out of sight down a steep valley.
This stretch is very open, with slight bends that you can see through and some long straights. We let the Turbo have its legs and pass light traffic with ease. The open stretch comes to an end at the top of Clay Bank, with a 90-degree right-hand bend and a big drop off the outside.
LATITUDE: 54:14:48N/1:03:14W LENGTH OF DRIVE: 19 miles POINTS OF INTEREST: FOOD AND ACCOMMODATION: Feversham Arms, Helmsley Chapters Hotel, Stokesley
Captain Cook’s Monument
Roseberry Topping hill
Black Swan Hotel, Helmsley
LENGTH OF DRIVE: 19 miles
POINTS OF INTEREST:
FOOD AND ACCOMMODATION:
Feversham Arms, Helmsley
Chapters Hotel, Stokesley
Stop and take in the view down the valley to Bilsdale and the road you’ll be driving. Or better still, come back later…
Plunging down the hill, if you have the confidence and good brakes, it’s an exciting drop with slight kinks and a long sweeping left-hander at the bottom. After that, take a breath and concentrate. For the rest of this stretch of road, there are hardly any straights, the road snaking along the Bilsdale valley floor, from one bend to the next, the Turbo flying in third and fourth, before braking and heel-toeing down for the next bend.
Gaze constantly focused at the ‘vanishing point’ between dry stone walls, watching for a change in radius, while other bends are more open, looking far around them, the car gripping and accelerating hard out. If you have time, a glance up to the left will show you the Bilsdale TV transmitter, before you need to have eyes forward again for the next crest, then the next bend.
Eventually, as you roll into a 30mph limit, through the village of Chop Gate (pronounced ‘Chap Yatt’), you’ve time for a short rest, before the final section. Care is needed here, as a series of sharp crests that can sucker you into being airborne. You don’t want a heavy landing here…
Climbing out of the valley and over a small crest, the final drive downhill towards Stokesley is one of the best parts; the road snaking left-right, left-right, but still descending all the time before rolling through Hutton Rudby, then a short blast to Stokesley.
It’s a stretch of road long enough to get into one of those lovely driving rhythms that we’ve all felt, without being so long that you become mentally tired. Drive it on a weekend and there will be lots of blue-rinse hairdos being frightened by the Fireblades, but weekdays are quiet.
It’s the road I choose whenever I have something interesting that I really need to get under the skin of.