WALKERS from across the North-East took part in an annual Boxing Day pilgrimage in Yorkshire as senior clergy stressed the importance of the nation’s rural communities a decade after the countryside was sealed off during the foot and mouth crisis.
More than 1,400 people from across Yorkshire and as far afield as Newcastle took part in the walk yesterday from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey, which this year commemorated the re-opening of the four-mile route after the epidemic sealed off vast swathes of rural Britain in 2001.
The foot and mouth crisis saw the estate around the World Heritage site of Fountains Abbey closed for almost a year before footpaths were re-opened for the Boxing Day walk in 2001.
The spokesman for the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds, Canon John Carter, said: “The 10th anniversary was a bitter-sweet occasion, and it served as a reminder of how important rural communities and the countryside are to us all. We saw people from across the region and beyond attend the walk, and prayers were said for people living in the countryside and the farming industry.”
The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, John Packer, led the pilgrimage, which was first staged in 1982 and traces the route of the monks who set off from Ripon Cathedral on December 26th, 1132, to found Fountains Abbey.