abbey walks

Long Distance Walks

abbey monkThe library of long distance walks is growing ! The longest is the St. Bernard's Way ( a total of 1549km / 962 miles ) which starts in North Yorkshire, England and finishes just south of Dijon, France.

There are currently 4 shorter 'distance' walks that don't require crossing the English channel - see below for more information.


St. Bernard’s Way

This is a 1549 km / 962 mile long distance walking route from Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire, England to Citeaux Abbey, south of Dijon in France.  It has been created in recognition of monastic travels that were undertaken in the 12th to 14th centuries, and of St Bernard of Clairvaux who was instrumental in the development and expansion of the Cistercian Order.

Learn more about the St. Bernard's Way.

Shining Lights of the North

This 72.8km / 45.2 mile linear walk starting in Helmsley, North Yorkshire follows monastic footsteps made between Rievaulx Abbey, Fountains Abbey and Byland Abbey.  These three abbeys are linked in history by being known in monastic circles and described by the 12th century historian and Augustinian Canon William of Newburgh, as the ' shining lights of the North'.

Learn more about the Shining Lights of the North.


Rievaulx Way

This 51.8km / 32.1 mile linear walk starts at St Mary's Abbey, York and finishes at Rievaulx Abbey, Helmsley.

It is likely that in the 12th century Cistercian Monks travelling from their mother abbey of Citeaux, Dijon would have stayed at St Mary's Abbey, York whilst en-route to Rievaulx Abbey.

Learn more about the Rievaulx Way.


Prior Richard Way

This 127.4km / 79 mile linear walk starts at St Mary's Abbey, York and finishes at Fountains Abbey, Ripon.

This route is a modern dedication to the journey made by a group of unhappy monks, including Prior Richard, in order to start a new monastic life at Fountains Abbey which would later become known as the Cistercian Order.  Prior Richard would become the first Abbot of Fountains Abbey.

Learn more about the Prior Richard Way.


                            * EXCITING NEWS *    The Prior Richard Way is available as a guided walking holiday



Thurston Round

This 156.9 km / 97.5 mile circular walk starts and finishes at St Mary's Abbey, York and is a homage to Archbishop Thurstan.

Thurston gave refuge to a group of monks who had fled the Abbey at York.  He lead them to the site that would soon become that of Fountains Abbey.

The Thurson Round incorporates crossings of rivers Foss, Ure, Swale, Rye, Skell and Ouse and passes through several medieval village including Haxby, Farlinton, Crayke and Arkendale.  You will walk in the Howardian Hills, an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to reach Helmsley and Coxwold before returning to the valley and back to York.

Learn more about the Thurston Round.



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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.