Boxing Day pilgrimage from Ripon to abbey

The walkers in Studley Royal Deer Park with Ripon Cathedral in the far distance. (EP1a_3409)
The walkers in Studley Royal Deer Park with Ripon Cathedral in the far distance. (EP1a_3409)

Hundreds of walkers have retraced the steps of 12th century monks in a Ripon tradition with roots stretching back more than 800 years.

The annual Boxing Day pilgrimage from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey – celebrating its 20th anniversary after being founded in 1982 – follows in the footsteps of a group of Cistercian monks who founded the abbey after making the walk from Ripon on December 26, 1132.

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, led the walk following a 45-minute service of Holy Communion at the cathedral, on Wednesday.

He said: “For me it is one of the highlights of the year. It gives us the chance to talk with one another and to reflect on those who first walked that route in 1132.

“They were a group of monks from St Mary’s Abbey in York who had become dissatisfied with the lazy cosmopolitan attitudes of their city monastery and wanted a tougher spiritual challenge.”

The four-mile, 90-minute walk took the modern-day pilgrims out of Ripon through beautiful countryside along the River Skell before going on to Studley Royal Deer Park and concluding with a short service of carols and prayers in the Fountains Abbey ruins.

The spokesman for the diocese, Canon John Carter, said: “We were blessed with bright and breezy weather which was very welcome given the recent poor weather over Christmas.”

- More pictures in the January 3 editions of the Ripon Gazette, Harrogate Advertiser, Knaresborough Post and Nidderdale Herald.