Ripon pilgrims prepare to set off

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Hundreds of people are expected to join Bishop James Bell and the Dean of Ripon, the Very Revd John Dobson on the Boxing Day Pilgrimage from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey.

The pilgrimage will begin after a short service of Holy Communion at 9.30am in the Cathedral.

Last year, an estimated 1,500 people joined in the pilgrimage, and it is hoped many will join in the 2015 walk.

Bishop James said: “From remembering Stephen, the first witness to give his life for faith in Christ, through to remembering the faith of those who founded Fountains, this is a great journey to make, and I’m excited to be joining the pilgrimage in the company of all who want to enjoy this wonderful walk!”

The walk attracts people of all faiths and none from across the region, and for many is a superb way to walk of the excesses of Christmas Day.

It takes approximately one and a half hours and 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.

The four mile route leads out of the city along the River Skell and into countryside , 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 and all pack into the cellarium of the ancient monastery where mulled wine is served and a service of carols takes place (at approximately 12 noon).

The route crosses fields, passes grazing deer and winds through woods and landscaped water gardens.

It has been taking place since the 1980’s in all weathers from snowy winter wonderlands to bright dry sunshine.