Record numbers take part in ‘awe-inspiring’ Boxing Day Pilgrimage

A record number of pilgrims, around 2000, have taken part in this year’s Boxing Day Pilgrimage from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire.

The traditional four-mile pilgrimage on December 26th follows 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 Revd. Dr Helen-Ann Hartley. She joined the Dean of Ripon, the Very Revd John Dobson and more than 12 hundred pilgrims who set off from Ripon Cathedral’s West Front and along the cobbled streets of Ripon following a service of Holy Communion. Numbers swelled along the way as those who were less able joined at various points along the route.

Bishop Helen-Ann said she found her first pilgrimage awe-inspiring. “It’s brilliant and it’s overwhelming to see so many people set out from the Cathedral and make this four mile pilgrimage to Fountains. The fact that those monks made this journey in 1132 is quite awe-inspiring. Journeying and pilgrimage are as alive today as they ever have been.”

Pictured (below right) carrying the cross are Tina Macaulay and Harry Dean.

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 service of carols takes place at approximately 12 noon. Pictured is the Stray Brass Ensemble which led the music for the short service.

Dean 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.”


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