Bishop Helen-Ann looks forward to her first Boxing Day Pilgrimage

The recently appointed Area Bishop of Ripon, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley says she is really looking forward to leading her first Boxing Day Pilgrimage, the popular annual North Yorkshire post-Christmas walk from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey.

The four-mile pilgrimage on December 26th follows in the footsteps of a group of Cistercian monks who set out the day after Christmas, 1132 AD to found a new Cistercian monastery at Fountains on the banks of the River Skell.

Last year, an estimated 1500 pilgrims from across the diocese and region took part – not all walking the entire four and half miles, but all enjoying seasonal mulled wine and mince pies at a service of carols held at the end of the Pilgrimage in the awe-inspiring Cellarium of Fountains Abbey.

Bishop Helen-Ann, a keen walker herself says she is really looking forward to her first Boxing Day Pilgrimage.

Writing in this December’s Yorkshire Living magazine, says, “My husband Myles and I love going for walks …One of the joys of being Bishop of Ripon is that I get to help lead the annual Boxing Day walk from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey. So I can think of no better walk than that!

“Mulled wine and juice, mince pies and carol singing await at the end of the walk, which makes it all the more appealing.”

Bishop Helen- Ann was previously a bishop in New Zealand and says this year her Christmas will be a very different experience to previous celebrations. “Christmas Day last year was a barbecue by a friend’s swimming pool. After six years experiencing Christmas ‘down under’ I am really looking forward to getting the seasons back in the order I am used to.”

After a short service of Holy Communion at 9.30am in the Cathedral, the walk sets out at approximately 10.15am.

The route leads of the city along the River Skell,  out of the city through the Studley Royal Deer Park and on to the National Trust site at Fountains Abbey.  Hundreds more swell the numbers as the walkers enter the National Trust grounds, walking through the beautiful landscaped water gardens towards Fountains Abbey. The destination is the ancient cellarium of the monastery where mulled wine is served and a service of carols takes place at approximately 12 noon.

Leading the walk with Bishop Helen-Ann will be the Dean of Ripon, the Very Revd John Dobson. “The Boxing Day Pilgrimage from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey is one of the hugely enjoyable events in our annual calendar," says Dean John.

“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.”

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