Jo’s Monday walk : Guisborough Forest and the Priory

The ruins of Gisborough Priory

The ruins of Gisborough Priory

On Easter Monday I wasn’t sure whether I should take you on a little local walk, or something more grand.  Well, Gisborough Priory was once very grand indeed.  Now just a ruin, it nevertheless sits at the heart of one of North Yorkshire’s finest market towns, Guisborough.

English being the funny old language that it is, Guisborough town is spelt with a ‘u’, but Gisborough Priory and nearby Gisborough Hall are spelt without.  You can check the Wikipedia links for the where’s and why for’s later, but it’s time to grab your coat, and off we go.

From the car park, at the back of Westgate, turn right down Bow St.  The houses are an appealing mix of stone and whitewash.  In gentle sunshine, a magnolia unfurls.  Just before the railway bridge, a series of steps lead up to a footpath.  If you turn left, it crosses over the bridge.  The railway is long gone but it makes a pleasant enough path around the back of Guisborough.

This magnolia was a beauty!

This magnolia’s a beauty!

The forest or Commondale?

Choices!  Choices!

You can turn right and head for the forest, but beware!   You never know what creatures are lurking in these woods.  It’s ok though- most of them are friendly.

Good morning Mr. Fox!

Good morning Mr. Fox!

And a whole family of sleepy owls!

Sssh!  Don’t wake the owls!

But today we’ll take the shorter route.  Choose the junction to the left, signed Cleveland Street Trail, and follow the path.  You will cross an open field and might have a friendly encounter with a sheep or two.  A frisky herd of horses live at the top of the field. Normally they’ll just keep an eye on you.  Don’t panic if they come to investigate.

The trail ends opposite this gatehouse

The trail ends opposite this gatehouse

Nice, isn't it?

Nice, isn’t it?

Not this grand entry for you, though!  Tradesman’s entrance!  A few yards to the left, a more modest footpath skirts the boundaries and takes you along the Monk’s Walk, through the woods.

And there's the priory, across a field

And there’s the priory, across a field

There's not much to it, when you get up close

There’s not much to it, when you get up close.  Gisborough Priory is a ruined Augustinian priory. It was founded in 1119 as the Priory of St. Mary by Robert de Brus, an ancestor of the Scottish king, Robert the Bruce, and became one of the richest monastic foundations in England.  In 1289 a fire destroyed much of the Romanesque Norman priory, but it was rebuilt in yet grander style.

The priory was prosperous until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540.  At this time it was demolished and the stone re-used in other buildings in Guisborough.  The east end of the church was left standing- a rather romantic image.

But the arches are pleasing

With rather pleasing arches

If you are interested in the history there is a quite substantial amount of it in Wikipedia.   Also on the site are fragments of the lower courses of the west range, a vaulted undercroft, a gateway and a 14th century dovecote, along with the Priory gardens.

Gisborough Priory is an English Heritage site and instructions on getting here are contained in the link.  There’s also the cutest ‘Brother Ted Bear’ for sale but I warn you, he doesn’t come cheap. Nor does the parking in the main town car park.  You can also walk from nearby Pinchinthorpe through the Guisborough Forest into town if you’re feeling energetic.

In Guisborough centre you will find a number of tearooms- mostly hidden around corners, so poke about a bit.  A more substantial meal can be had in several of the pubs on the main street.

So there you are.  I hope you have a lovely day!  If you would like to join in with Jo’s Monday walk, it’s simple enough.  You can link a post back to me, or you can simply leave a link to a walk you like in my comments below.  It can be as elaborate or as simple as you like, and you can join in any day of the week.  I just like to see where you’ve been.  Nosy, I guess.  Happy walking!

First up, Yvette’s taking us to Richmond, VA :

Then Amy- avoiding the snakes, I hope! :

And Dale, having fun in the sun :


  1. The wood carvings of the owls and the fox seem to be untouched, I believe, when the priory was abandoned. They are now almost 900 years old if they were made in the 11th century. How large are they? The wooden fox looks big…

    Thanks for sharing these photos… 🙂


  2. Jo, I love the unfurling magnolia, the crossroads sign, and the critters in the woods. 🙂 I love what is left of the ruined priory too. It reminds me a bit of the ruins of Glastonbury, which I visited in September 1999. All my pics are in a photo album. Wish there was some way to digitalize them. 🙂 Thanks for taking us on your walk!! 🙂


    1. Have you thought of scanning your photos into your computer, Cathy? That’s what I did with my Greek Islands ones. It takes time but they have quite a nice quality to them that you don’t get with newer cameras, and you can always edit them if you’re not happy.
      Lovely to have your company 🙂 🙂


      1. I would love to scan all my photos some day, Jo. I wish I had all the time in the world to do my hobbies of blogging, traveling, and photography, but as you know, I have other things I need to do right now. 😦 Ah, if only we had all the time and money in the world! Maybe one day I will get to this. 🙂


  3. What a lovely walk Jo! I feel like I’ve been on the ramble with you. 🙂 Those carved owls are stunners and the priory is still a beauty. Thanks for the great walk. ~Terri


    1. You’re welcome, Terri 🙂 I’m newly back in rainy England this morning and can’t find my laptop battery charger anywhere so I may be very silent for a while!


  4. Dear Jo,
    I feel as though I’ve just been out for a jaunt in the countryside! Gorgeous photos, I love the details, and I could almost smell the spring in the air. So glad you did stop and take that last shot of the blossoms!


    1. Hi Naomi 🙂 I’m between a wedding and a birthday celebration in Poland right now, and England seems far away. We have a couple of days in the mountains before we return and all will be back to ‘normal’. Take care!


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