abbey walks


Prior Richard Way, Self-Guided Walk, via Ripon Cathedral

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  • Overview:


    The Prior Richard Way is an easy linear walk in beautiful rolling North Yorkshire countryside that follows a path between the 12th century Benedictine Abbey of St. Mary's in York, Ripon Cathedral and UNESCO World Heritage Site Fountains Abbey.


    This walk is a modern dedication to the journey made by a group of unhappy 12th century monks, including Prior Richard, in order for them to follow a more devout and simple monastic way of life. Their new home would become Fountains Abbey and they would join the Cistercian Order.  Learn more much about the Prior Richard Way.


    York, the start of the Prior Richard Way, is perfectly accessible by public transport with London being only 2 hours away by train, and other UK mainline and local trains stopping here regularly.  Manchester and Leeds/Bradford airports are international gateways which also have easy public transport links to York. York also has excellent coach / bus links with most major cities.




    Easy to Moderate



    35 miles (56 km)



    3 nights, 3 days walking



    Tailor made for you



    From £ 275 per person, single supplement applies


    Summary + Highlights:


    The Prior Richard Way leaves York along the banks of the River Ouse and continues along part of what was formally Dere street, a Roman road.  It then winds through gentle rolling North Yorkshire countryside, through medieval villages and along river and canal banks.


    After a brief visit to Ripon Cathedral the walk continues through Studley Royal Deer Park to then arrive at UNESCO World Heritage Site Fountains Abbey.


  • Itinerary:


    Day 1: Arrive at York


    Arrive at the Roman walled city of Eboracum, now called York, and check into one of the city's finest 4 star guest houses, Georgian House.  Bed and breakfast is provided with quality and comfort assured.  Once settled into your accommodation the evening will be yours to explore the city.  There are plenty of restaurants, bars, theatres and cinemas so you really are spoilt for choice !


    Day 2: 19.7 km / 12.4 miles - Easy walk


    After breakfast walk the short distance to St Mary's Abbey where you can learn more about its history and the life of Prior Richard. From the abbey walk briefly along the River Ouse before joining the route of the old Roman road, Dere Street, to reach the medieval village of Poppleton. After passing through the village your journey will continue through rolling farmland and quiet country lanes before arriving at the medieval village of Green Hammerton and the accommodation for the night. The Bay Horse is thought to be over two hundred years old, and a former coaching inn that retains its old world charm.


    Day 3: 17.9 km / 11.2 miles - Easy to moderate walk


    Walk from Green Hammerton through the ancient village of Whixley which lies on the old roman road of Rudgate and then once more along Dere Street. The day continues through the medieval villages of Arkendale and Minskip, along quiet country lanes and through peaceful countryside to Boroughbridge (home for the night). Boroughbridge is close to Alderborough which was the 'principle' capital of the Romanised Brigantes, the largest tribe in Britain at that time and a principle settlement during the Roman period.


    Accommodation is at either Lock House or Ferry Den B&B or the Grantham Arms


    Day 4: 18.5 km / 12 miles - Easy to moderate walk


    An earlier start to the day would be recommended to allow for a longer time at Fountains Abbey. The walk retraces the previous day's footpath to the village of Roebuck before following the banks of the River Ure, Ripon canal and the River Skell to reach Ripon Cathedral which dates back to the 7th century. After a brief time visiting the cathedral the walk resumes alongside the River Skell and through Studley Royal medieval deer park to reach UNESCO World Heritage Site Fountains Abbey, one of the largest and best preserved Cistercian monasteries in England.

    Part of the route walked by Archbishop Thurston, Prior Richard and his fellow monks in the 12th century is commemorated on 26th December ( Boxing day ) every year, with thousands of Pilgrims walking from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey, the final stretch of The Prior Richard Way.


    Enjoy some time dedicated to looking around Fountains Abbey before being transferred back to York ( optional ).


  • Accommodation: 


    All accommodation on an Abbey Walks holiday is carefully selected for quality, guest reviews, comfort and food.

    Each guest house, hotel or inn is furnished with en-suite facilities in double, twin, or single rooms and is conveniently located on the route of the Prior Richard Way allowing us to start and end each day directly at the door.


    Night 1 :

    Georgian House, York:  4 star English Tourism Council, 3.5 star Tripadvisor rating


    Georgian House is one of the York's finest 4 star guest houses with quality and comfort assured. It is located just a few minutes walk from the city centre, and the start of the first day's walk.  There is a tv and free wi-fi in all rooms, and a spacious residents lounge.


    Night 2 :

    The Bay Horse Inn, Green Hammerton:  4 star Tripadvisor rating


    The Bay Horse Inn lies in the medieval village of Green Hammerton, situated in the beautiful Vale of York. It is thought that it dates back over two hundred years and is a former coaching inn that still retains its old world charm. Upon arriving sit by the welcoming log fire with your favourite tipple or one of several real ales on offer before retiring to your courtyard style chalet for a quick siesta before being enjoying your evening.


    Night 3 :

    Lock House, Boroughbridge: 5 star Tripadvisor rating or Ferry Dean B&B


    Lock House is a comfortable and cosy canal side house and Ferry Dean sits close to the riverside and the town centre. Both accommodations pride themselves in a warm welcome and locally sourced breakfast ingredients.


    Alternate for Night 3: The Grantham Arms, Boroughbridge: 4.5 star Tripadvisor rating


    The Grantham Arms provides stylish accommodation, with great toiletries and luxury Egyptian cotton bed linen.  Breakfast is a treat of traditional or continental menus. The on site restaurant is very popular with locals and is a must for an evening meal.

  • FAQs + Booking Conditions

    Why should I book an Abbey Walks self-guided walking holiday ?


    • Abbey Walks walking holidays are unique in that our routes have not been walked as a whole since the end of the 14th century.  If you love walking in beautiful English countryside, enjoy fresh air and history then you will love Abbey Walks holidays. 
    • Walk along ancient footpath routes, byways, woodlands, waterways, drovers' paths and Roman roads which were once used by Cistercian monks around the 12th to 14th centuries as they travelled between their abbeys.
    • Whilst walking along these ancient learn about the monks who first trod these paths, their lives and their abbeys. Become familiar with the history of the routes you walk along, giving a unique dimension to our holidays.
    • There is plenty of time to wonder at the glorious English countryside, it's flora, fauna and the rich history of the places you pass through or visit.
    • We are endorsed by Responsible Travel, a travel body which promotes trips that maximize positive and minimize negative impacts on local community, economy and environment.  View our Responsible Travel policy.


    What is included in the self-guided walk price ?


    • En-suite accommodation in double, twin, or single rooms in specially selected guest houses, hotels and inns along the walk route.
    • A choice of traditional English, or continental breakfast each morning
    • A full booking administration and holiday management service including information on travel to and from your walking route if required
    • A full and personalised walking programme / itinerary
    • An information pack which includes:

    - OS 1:25,000 route maps, plus map case, with the route clearly highlighted

    - Detailed waymarked route descriptions plus photographs
    - Information about items of historical interest along the route
    - Information about places to visit in the nearby area
    - GPX co-ordinates available to download from the website
    - Luggage labels
    - Recommendations of places to rest for refreshments, lunchtime and for evening meals
    - Local taxi numbers in case of bad weather or tired walkers
    - Local emergency contact details

    • A fully trained Mountain Leader, who is an experienced and knowledgeable Abbey Walks guide will be on hand, if needed, for the duration of the guided walk by way of phone support between 9am to 9pm.  
    • Transportation back to York from the end point of the walk
    • Transportation of your main luggage from each accommodation to the next, so that you only need carry a lighter day bag with you for the walk.


    What happens in the case of bad weather ?


    • Most holiday walkers are not put off by weather conditions unless there is a specific safety issue. It is, therefore, essential that all walkers heed the below advised kit list.


    What do you suggest I carry in my day bag ?


    • Fleece ( windbloc) / jacket
    • Extra midlayers of clothing ( breathable )
    • Waterproof ( breathable ) jacket and trousers
    • Gloves ( waterproof / non waterproof )
    • Warm hat / baseball cap
    • Spare pair of socks
    • Stuff sack / ruck sack liner
    • Camera
    • Suitable refreshments + extras for the days walk
    • Water bottle / platypus
    • Sit mat
    • First Aid kit


    What do you suggest I bring in my main luggage ?


    • Sturdy broken-in walking boots for the days walk
    • Walking clothes, for both warm and cooler weather
    • Walking poles
    • A change of clothes for meals and socialising in the evening
    • Spending money for evening meals and drinks

    Can I walk on my own ?


    • Yes, you can.  Please be aware that a single supplement may be payable - see booking conditions and prices further down in these FAQs.  Please also ensure that you are suitably and sufficiently experienced to walk alone.


    What is the minimum / maximum number in a group ?


    • Please advise us if there are more than 2 in your party so that sufficient accommodation can be booked ( see quote request form ).


    Do I have to walk every day?


    • We hope that you will walk each day so that you experience the full self-guided walk, but of course, if you feel unwell you will have the next night’s accommodation details with you for you to make your own way there at your own expense.  Should you wish to spend any extra nights at any of the accommodations either before, during or after the walk, please inform us at the time of booking and we will include this in the holiday price ( see quote request form ).


    Do I have to have a certain level of fitness ?


    • We accept bookings for our holidays on the understanding that you are in good health, can easily walk the mileage of the longest day of the walking holiday, over undulating terrain and have an appropriate level of fitness to complete the holiday.
    • Please inform us if you have any allergies such as asthma, a recurrent medical condition such as diabetes type 1 or 2, epilepsy, or a disability such as limb, hearing or sight restriction.  Please also advise us at the time of booking if you have a heart condition or suffer from angina.  This information will help us effectively plan your holiday taking these facts into consideration.


    Do you cater for vegan / vegetarians or other dietry requirements ?


    • Yes, our accommodation providers cater for any dietary requirement.  Please inform us of your requirements at the time of booking.


    Can I bring my dog ?


    • Please advise us at the time of requesting your quote if you would like to bring your four legged friend so that we can ensure that the accommodation is dog friendly.


    How do I book a walking holiday?


    • You can book your holiday by submitting a Quote Form.


    How do I pay for my holiday?


    • Shortly after we receive your Quote Request Form with the details your holiday choice, desired start dates and any optional extras, we will send you a holiday quote accompanied by the 10 % deposit invoice for your holiday.  This quote is valid for 7 days.  You can pay your deposit by credit/debit card via paypal or by bank transfer or by cheque if you prefer.  Please contact us if you would like to pay by bank transfer or cheque.
    • Once your deposit has been received by us, we will confirm your booking by email. This confirmation correspondence will form a contract between us, and will be effective from the date on the communication to you. We will send your holiday pack to you by post containing everything that you need for your holiday after we receive your balance payment.
    • The balance for any trip must be received 6 weeks before your holiday commences. Bookings accepted less than 6 weeks before a trip start date can be secured with payment of the deposit amount, and full payment must then be received by us within 7 days of us confirming your booking.
    • If the balance of the holiday cost is not received in time (unless a delayed payment has been agreed by us), we reserve the right to cancel your holiday and your deposit will be non-refundable.


    Is my holiday payment safe?


    • For your financial security, all monies paid to us by you are held and protected in a secure client account until your trip has been completed.


    Do I need travel insurance ?


    • We strongly advise that you purchase holiday insurance to cover any Abbey Walks walking holiday that you book with us. This will cover you for any unforeseen holiday related events.  Abbey Walks cannot take responsibility for any loss or damage to your personal effects, items of luggage or their contents during transportation during your holiday with us. It is your responsibility to ensure that bags are safely and securely packed and contain no valuable and / or fragile items.
    • You must be satisfied that your holiday insurance fully covers all your personal requirements including pre-existing medical conditions, cancellation charges, curtailment, medical expenses and repatriation in the event of injury or illness during your holiday with us.
    • An Abbeywalks holiday and all decisions / elements that it encompasses are taken at your own risk.





    • Our holiday prices are based on two people sharing a double or twin room.  Single travellers are very welcome on our holidays, and we work with our accommodation providers in order to ensure that single occupancy is available. However where a double or twin room is the only option then a single supplement may be payable.



    • If it is necessary to use an overnight accommodation provider other than one stated in on our website, we will inform you of this when we provide the holiday quote.
    • We reserve the right to cancel your booking with us for any reason deemed fit by us.



    Any cancellation must be submitted in writing and is effective from the date it is received by Abbey Walks.  The following cancellation charges apply  :

    • more than 60 days before holiday commences, 20 % deposit will be retained
    • between 29 and 59 days before holiday commences, 50 % deposit will be retained.  If you have paid for your holiday in full we will work with the accommodation providers and make an appropriate refund based on their willingness to cancel the booking.  An administration charge of £50 will be made.
    • between 15 and 28 days before the holiday commences, 100 % deposit will be retained.  If you have paid for your holiday in full we will work with the accommodation providers and make an appropriate refund based on their willingness to cancel the booking.  An administration charge of £50 will be made.
    • less than 14 days before the holiday commences or once the holiday has started, unfortunately no refund can be made in these cases.



    • Please read the details about what we offer in an Abbey Walks holiday carefully.  We can take no responsibility for any customer misunderstanding the holiday content.
    • Abbey Walks cannot accept responsibility for any loss, damage, fatality or other injury to you during your holiday, except when we are proven in law to be in breach of our contractual duty, or are proven to have been negligent.
    • We regret that we cannot accept any liability or pay any compensation where your holiday is prevented or affected by, or you otherwise suffer any damage or loss as a result of force majeure.  Force majeure means any event which we, or any of our suppliers, could not, even with all due care, foresee or avoid.  Such events include war, riots, civil strife, terrorist activities, industrial disputes, fire, epidemics and viral pandemics, natural disasters, adverse weather conditions and all similar events outside our control.



    • Parents or legal guardians of children under the age of 18 undertake to take full responsibility and supervision of their children at all times.  To satisfy current legislation, children under 18 cannot undertake an Abbey Walks holiday without their parent or legal guardian accompanying them.


    If you have any questions that are not answered above, please contact us and we will be very happy to help.




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Walking can be a dangerous sport.  Walkers should always be suitably equipped, including carrying and knowing how to use a map and compass.