Bishop leads walkers on his final Boxing Day Pilgrimage

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Walkers joined the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, John Packer, yesterday as he led his final Boxing Day Pilgrimage from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey before retiring.

The walk, which follows in the footsteps of a group of Cistercian monks who first walked from Ripon to Fountains on December 26, 1132, and founded the abbey, has for many years been described by the Bishop as one of the highlights of his year.

“For me, the Boxing Day Pilgrimage has always been one of the highlights of the year, though more so on a crisp winter morning than if it is pouring with rain,” says the Bishop.

“The walk gives us the chance to talk with one another and gives us a sense of pilgrimage and of moving forward and on into the new year.”

Before the pilgrims set off, a service of Holy Communion took place at the cathedral. Following the communion service, walkers set off on the route which goes through beautiful parkland and countryside, following the banks of the River Skell out of Ripon, through the Studley Royal Deer Park and on to Fountains Abbey.

It was one of the bishop’s final duties before he retires at the end of December. On January 5, Ripon Cathedral will host a service of farewell to the Bishop at 3pm at which all are welcome.