HUNDREDS of walkers celebrated the 20-year anniversary of an annual Boxing Day pilgrimage which follows in the footsteps of a group of Cistercian Monks who first walked the route back in the 12th century.
The tradition of staging the walk between Ripon Cathedral and Fountains Abbey during the festive season begun in 1982. It is organised as a tribute to the monks who first walked the route in 1132, when the abbey was founded. The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, John Packer, has led the annual walk for the past 13 years as the popularity of the four-mile pilgrimage has grown.
The spokesman for the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds, Canon John Carter, said: “We were blessed with bright and breezy weather yesterday, which was very welcome given the recent poor weather over Christmas. The pilgrimage has become a tradition of the festive season for church goers and non-church goers alike, and we always get a real mix of people.”
A service of Holy Communion at Ripon Cathedral was yesterday led by both the Dean of Ripon, Keith Jukes, and Bishop Packer. The walkers then headed across parkland following the banks of the River Skell through the Studley Royal Deer Park and on to the World Heritage site of Fountains Abbey.
Last year, record numbers – more than 1,400 people from across the North-East – took part in the walk which marked the 10th anniversary of the re-opening of footpaths to the public following the Foot and Mouth crisis of 2001.