A record number of pilgrims, more than 2,000, took part in this year’s Boxing Day Pilgrimage from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire.
The traditional four-mile pilgrimage on December 26 followed in the footsteps of a group of Cistercian monks who set out from Ripon the day after Christmas, 1132 AD, to found a new Cistercian monastery at Fountains on the banks of the River Skell.
It was the first walk to be led by the recently appointed Area Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley who joined the Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev John Dobson and more than 1,200 pilgrims who set off from Ripon Cathedral’s West Front and along the cobbled streets of Ripon following a service of Holy Communion. Numbers were swelled on the way as people joined at various points along the route.
The Pilgrimage route led out of the city of Ripon, along the River Skell, through the Studley Royal Deer Park and on to the National Trust site at Fountains Abbey. Hundreds more joined the numbers as the walkers enter the National Trust grounds, walking through the beautiful landscaped water gardens towards Fountains Abbey.
The destination was the ancient cellarium of the monastery where a carol service took place with music led by the Stray Brass Ensemble.
The Very Rev John Dobson said: “The Boxing Day Pilgrimage from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey is one of the hugely enjoyable events in our annual calendar.
“Drawing on the lengthy history of both the cathedral and Fountains it gives a welcome encouragement to all of us to take some much needed exercise after a day of feasting.
“It gives an opportunity for family and friends to spend time with each other and also to chat with new people along the way. The carol service in the abbey’s awe-inspiring cellarium is the climax of the whole event and is enjoyed by both those who have walked and those who have travelled straight to the abbey.”