THE route taken by a group of Cistercian monks in 1132 was retraced by pilgrims in Ripon yesterday.

A walk takes place from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey, in North Yorkshire, each Boxing Day, with hundreds retracing the steps of the medieval monks.

Those religious men went on to found a new monastery, Fountains Abbey, almost 900 years ago, which became one of the great abbeys of the north and only the second Cistercian abbey to be built after Rievaulx, near Helmsley.

The Boxing Day event began with a service of Holy Communion in the Cathedral, before pilgrims were led from the steps of the cathedral by senior clergyman and embarked on the four-mile walk, through the streets of Ripon and surrounding countryside.

The new Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley led the pilgrimage for the first time, along with the Dean, John Dobson.

On the route to Fountains Abbey the walkers passed through Studley Royal deer park and landscaped water gardens, run by the National Trust.

The walkers were rewarded with a carol service in the ancient ruins of Fountains and a glass of mulled wine, at the end of their journey.

Fountains had humble beginnings, with a group of devout monks founding it in search of a simpler life, but it grew to be wealthy and powerful, one of the most important religious houses in the country.

The abbey is open all year except Fridays in winter.