Jo’s Monday walk : Finchale Priory

The ruins of Finchale Priory

The ruins of Finchale Priory

My walk this week, much nearer home, takes me along the banks of the River Wear, four miles from the city of Durham.  I hear that a heatwave is forecast and you might be glad of a little shade.  I was dodging showers on my walk, so the trees proved extremely useful.

The Grade 1 listed ruins of Finchale Priory began life in the 13th century as a Benedictine priory. Today they are managed by English Heritage.  The only details I could glean from their page are that the Priory was founded on the site of a retired pirate’s hermitage (!) and was later used as a holiday retreat for monks from Durham Cathedral.

The approach is through peaceful countryside, covered in rapeseed early in the season

The approach is through peaceful countryside, covered in rapeseed early in the season

The clouds are a little menacing so we need to be quick!

The clouds are a little menacing, so we need to be quick!

We might just make it!

We might just make it!

St. Godric of Finchale was an English hermit, merchant and medieval saint who was born in Norfolk.  After many pilgrimages around the Mediterranean, he spent the last 60 years of his life as a hermit in these idyllic surrounds.  To find that same peace and serenity you need to visit out of season, as today a caravan park adjoins the site.

As so often, I turn to Wikipedia for my knowledge.  For instance, I had no clear idea what a piscina might be, though I was assured that there was a double one on the south wall.  It’s a shallow basin, placed near the altar of a church, used for washing the communion vessels. Hunting through my photos, I discover that I have some evidence.

A scilla

A double piscina

A view through the ruins

A view through the ruins

But this is the sight that intrigues me most

But this is the sight that intrigues me most

I cannot seem to find a reference that explains this ‘chimney’ with a conical point, and I can’t recollect seeing one before.  If any of you can help me on this, I’d be grateful.  Now, you remember that we are beside the river?

Click on a photo for a closer look

The ruins with the farmhouse/cafe alongside

The ruins with the farmhouse/cafe alongside

And a closer look at that 'chimney'

And a closer look at that ‘chimney’

While the sky is blue I think we should cross over the bridge.  Got your brolly, just in case?

In places the River Wear flows swiftly

In places the River Wear flows quite swiftly

Across the bridge, you can look back at the Priory

Looking back, a view of the Priory

Choices next, for a short, circular walk through Cocken Woods.  You can climb the steps, rather steeply, or follow the river bank for a short distance and then climb, a little more gently, up through the woods.  No contest, really!  Just past bluebell season, there was the thickest carpet and a deafening aroma of wild garlic!


It had to happen!  Just about then the skies opened and the rain battered the river.  My back pressed close to a tree trunk, I watched the steady tattoo and inhaled deeply.  When the rain eased a little, there was just time to cross the bridge and slip quickly inside the cafe.

You’re probably thinking that that’s enough for the day, but I never want to waste an opportunity. Beyond the picnic benches, a path follows the river, on the same shore as the Priory but in the opposite direction.  There’s a little climb before it levels out so I won’t make you walk again.  Stay here and I’ll just show you a couple of photos.

Just one last look at the Priory, before it’s time to go.

Probably my favourite shot

Loving the shapes and the shadows

And a surprise beneath the Priory!

And one last surprise, beneath the Priory!

I hope you enjoyed my ‘traces of the past’.  I’ve included the English Heritage link for directions and opening times, and the other links for history and background.  There is a special link too. Many of you will have seen Paula’s traces of the past, in Slovakia.  I hope I’m not too late with my offering of Finchale Priory.

One cup of coffee down, two to go?

walking logo

For any of you not used to my ramblings, can I direct you to my Jo’s Monday walk page or the logo above?  It will encourage you to join me.  For all you other lovely people, can I just say a huge thanks, both for your support and your wonderful contributions.  Please make time to visit the posts below.  You won’t regret it!


Drake’s always a winner- in more ways than one!  First with his contribution again last week :


Back on home turf with Anabel, in Scotland.  Do you know this one?

Loch Ardinning

Jude apologised for ‘another flowery walk’.  Is she mad?  Good old King George V!

Kerdhva Gov Jori V  (didn’t know I could speak Cornish- did you?)

You can always rely on Paula to find true beauty, even when she’s sleepy.  This is exquisite!

Sing me a lullaby

A guy with a wicked sense of humour, Cardinal’s style is unique :

Fitness and Relax Toilets

I have a cousin in Toronto. Maybe I should pay him a surprise visit one day?

Junkboat Travels: Monday Walks

Will I EVER tire of the beauty of the Grand Canyon?  I doubt it!

Walk on a Timeline (One Long Step= 1 Million Years)

I get to sit alongside Paula while Lucile pedals this week!  Don’t miss this!

Virtual Bike Ride with Jo and Paula

You can always depend on Debbie for variety!  I wonder where next?

A Walk along Berlin’s Landwehrkanal

Laia’s post simply shimmers with colour and beauty (and blue ice!)  Another one not to miss!

Fox Glacier and lake Matheson : do not believe in postcards

And while we’re in that part of the world, here’s a fascinating walk in Tasmania, with Ruth :

Waterworks, pipelines and falls

Jaspa keeps on going back to Venice.  Well, why wouldn’t you?

The Irresistible Lure of Venice

Lots of shares again this week.  I expect you’ve seen a few of them around the blogs, but please make time for any you’ve missed. There are some fabulous contributions.  And if you have any spare time, Monday Escapes are acquiring a steady stream of followers.  If only I could find more time!

Have a happy week and watch out for that heatwave!  See you next Monday?




  1. Even if you had a little rain this looks the perfect ruin to explore – was it really as quiet as it looks? Your photos take me right there but unfortunately I can’t taste that dessert!


    1. I’ve done some great English walks this year, Ad. (in the enjoyable sense I mean- not my brilliance 🙂 🙂 ) Must be time I was abroad again! Thank you for your lovely company. Sorry I ate the last scone 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Jo, Just want to let you that I’ll be on vacation, so will skip Monday Walk the next two weeks. See you when I’m back. Have a great weekend.


    1. Hi Ruth! 🙂 I try to provide variety in the walks. I’m always surprised at just how many places there are, not too far away. And when the sun shines it’s a beautiful world, isn’t it? 🙂
      Many thanks for your company again.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Like stepping through the screen, straight into your lovely and interesting outdoors, Jo. Thank you so much. The Finchale Priory is definitely on my list to visit.
    Stay cool!


  4. What a fabulous walk Jo! I adore every single shot of that priory. So beautifully framed! The sheep and the gorgeous wild garlic are bonus. And you always leave room for dessert! What more can one ask for? 🙂


    1. It was a moody old day, Madhu, and it was a last minute decision to go to the Priory but I was glad we did. I hadn’t been for many a year and my memories were hazy. Much clearer now 🙂 And it was lovely and peaceful.


    1. Very welcome! I’m trying to find time to visit a few more of your other participants, but what with our glorious weather, helping my son to move home and watching Wimbledon… not enough hours in the day! I’ll get to it 🙂
      Yes, language is a funny old thing 🙂 Thanks for the kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A fascinating and atmospheric priory ruins Jo. Interesting history and I’m so pleased we stopped for those yummy looking scones and cream before heading on. The garlic has really taken over hasn’t it… I’m a bit late for last week but maybe early for next week!!! We are at the beach again. Jack literally forced me out of bed at 6-30am…I moaned and groaned but really loved it once we got there…


    1. It really doesn’t matter when in the week you post your walks, Pauline. It almost always appears in the next week’s walk so that everybody who doesn’t already follow you gets a chance to see it. A few people post their walk every Monday but a lot don’t and they arrive as and when. It’s fine either way. I just appreciate you thinking of me. 🙂
      Is it good weather for the beach, or just nice for strolling? We’re having a meltdown here, which is most unusual, but very nice. 🙂


      1. It is school holidays at the moment and after a week of drizzly weather the sun is now out for this week and all the Mums are saying “Hallelujah”…

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I didn’t think it would rain but that’s why it’s always a good idea to carry an umbrella – I’m glad you do the walking and I can just enjoy the pictures. Thanks Jo!


  7. This has everything I love in a walk Jo, woods, water, lovely countryside, and the scent of garlic!A café too – what kind of cream is that the wrong way round on a scone???


    1. Do you know Gilly, I never noticed! I just ate it 🙂 And it’s exactly the right way round in my part of the world 🙂 Are you recovered now? I hope so! Cooking hot today but we’ve been in Leeds, moving our son into a new flat.


  8. A beautiful atmospheric walk. Thank you Jo. I love visiting old priories/abbeys, a sense of mystery and timelessness. All good walks have to feature a cafe – glad this one didn’t let you down!


  9. Love the “Traces of the Past” walk my friend. Beautiful, nostalgic, full of life and adventure. Each picture is stunning…the nature so breathtaking. Wonderful post! God bless and your family.


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