Hundreds join in Ripon Cathedral’s annual pilgrimage to Fountains Abbey
Dec 26, 2023
The start of today's pilgrimage.

It was the perfect day for a pilgrimage and hundreds turned up at Ripon Cathedral this morning to take part in the four-mile walk of faith to Fountains Abbey.

The annual St Stephen’s Day trek from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey, attracted family groups, individuals, dog walkers and keen hikers.

Many came prepared for cold and rain but, as with last year’s pilgrimage, they found dry and pleasantly warm weather, with sunshine all the way to Fountain’s Abbey.

The pilgrims head up Kirkgate

The walkers followed in the footsteps of 13 monks who, on a cold day in 1132, walked from Ripon to a completely deserted valley by the River Skell.

This is where Fountains was established and the link with the church founded in Ripon by Wilfrid, who subsequently became the city’s patron saint,  was established and has remained to this day.

Fountains, which was one of the richest abbeys in England, closed in 1539 as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries ordered by Henry VIII.

Canon Matthew Pollard (pictured left), the Bishop of Ripon Anna Eltringham and Dean of Ripon John Dobson, prepare for the carol service in the cellarium.

The pilgrimage concluded with a carol service in the awe-inspiring vaulted cellarium of the ruined abbey. Musical accompaniment was provided by the Harrogate-based quintet Stray Brass.

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