It was quite hard to decide which walk to take you on this week. The weather’s been so unseasonably kind and I’ve been out and about a lot. I will be missing next Monday and I wanted to leave you with some beautiful images. It’s probably hard to find anywhere more beautiful than Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire.
Spring was just beginning to tap on my door, and the Abbey was newly opened for the season when I made my visit- the first in many years! I had quite forgotten the majesty of the place. In the silence, I could almost hear the monks at prayer.
Founded in 1132, Rievaulx Abbey was the first Cistercian abbey to be built in the north of England. Situated just 3 miles from the village of Helmsley, in the North York Moors National Park, still it feels remarkably remote. The location, sheltered by hills in the valley of the River Rye, was ideal for the Cistercians, who valued a strict life of prayer and self sufficiency with little contact with the outside world.
In order to have enough flat land to build on, the monks diverted part of the river several metres west of its original channel. It astounded me to find that during the 12th century, they diverted the course of the river three times. Such was the ingenuity of the monks, who over time built up a profitable business mining lead and iron ore. They reared sheep and sold the wool throughout Europe. Rievaulx grew to be one of the wealthiest abbeys in England. With 140 monks and many more lay brothers, it was a far cry from its devout beginnings. By the 15th century the strict observance of Cistercian practises had been abandoned in favour of a more comfortable lifestyle.
Henry VIII was, of course, delighted to take advantage of this prosperity when he dissolved the abbey in 1538. The 72 buildings alleged to have been in existence at that time were stripped of their assets and rendered uninhabitable. Today the still substantial abbey ruins are in the care of English Heritage. High on the hillside overlooking them sit two Grecian-style temples. These were added in the 1750s by Thomas Duncombe, and are now in the care of the National Trust. Just a glimpse is visible on my walk.
You might well want to linger in the Visitor Centre, which has a pleasant cafe (with good cake!) looking out on the ruins. Picnic tables will make this a popular spot in Summer. It’s much too early to return to the car so I’d like you to accompany me on a circular walk, along the river to Bow Bridge. A website I have used before Where 2 walk will provide you with a little map, but the 2 and a half mile route is quite straightforward. We can eat when we get back- I promise!
Cross over the bridge and take the footpath to your left and you will initially be following the opposite bank of the River Rye. A signpost saying ‘Ashberry’ points the way across a field, and the path begins on a gentle incline.
The path climbs a little steeply for a short stretch and, through the trees, you can just make out the outline of the Abbey down below. As we start to descend, a bench catches my eye.
One more bridge, a pretty riverside garden and, around a bend in the road, the Abbey. The cafe’s in sight. I feel a need for Yorkshire curd tart. I did promise, didn’t I?
The English Heritage website will give you full details of opening times for the Abbey and how to get there. Rievaulx is a charming village too, but very steep!
You might already have guessed that I’m linking this walk to Jude’s Bench challenge. This month’s theme is ‘a bench with a view’ and I think that I found a few. Sorry, Jude, but I don’t have time for a separate post because on Wednesday I’m off to the Algarve.
I won’t have a Monday walk for you next week, but please feel free to share your walks. I will include them on 20th April, when I hope to be posting about the wild daffodils in Farndale, planted originally by monks. Details of how to join in are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.
After that, I’m off to Poland again, with Dad, but that’ll be another story (and a whole lot more photos!) Surely time to get that kettle on and enjoy these posts! Many thanks to all my wonderful contributors.
I didn’t manage to do this on my Paris trip so many thanks, Debbie :
A little bit of Spring magic with Gilly next :
Amy takes us to a perfectly manicured park (and there’s Easter eggs!)
Drake tickled my fancy with boats. Knows the way to my heart, that one!
Back to old Holborn haunts, with Geoff :
I have a new word for Spring. Frivolicious! 🙂 Thanks, Jesh!
Urban planning seems to be an issue at Violet Sky’s :
But beauty abounds at Paula’s place!
I refuse to take a walk with an alligator for anybody- even Yvette!
We’ll end with Tobias’ interesting outlook on Hamburg :
Don’t forget- I won’t be here next Monday! Hope to see you on 20th April. Meantime, lots and lots of happy walking! (and please take some bench shots for Jude)