Rievaulx Abbey is one of best preserved of the abbeys in the country. It sits on a hillside, near a river and surrounded by woods. This short Rievaulx Abbey walk takes in all of these.
Riveaulx Abbey has some of the most spectacular remains of any Cistercian abbey (only the building at Fountains Abbey is better preserved). The original wood abbey was built in 1131 but it was only a handful of years later that stone started to be added. For 400 years the monks of the abbey dominated the life of the peasants and workers nearby. This lasted until 1536 when it was sold in ‘1536’ to Thomas Manners, the Earl of Rutland. From there the structure fell in to inevitable disrepair. However today it is still of great interest to archaeologists and historians alike.
However it would be remiss of me not to explore the abbey and in particular the surrounding area. During the walk I attempted to imagine and create a picture in my mind what it would have been like to live and work here. The Rievaulx Abbey walk itself first passes through the village of Rievaulx. The pretty village, is set in the lovely wooded Raydale Valley and comprises a few beautiful stone cottages, some larger houses and dominated by the impressive ruins of the abbey. Today the village must be one of the most sort after locations in the country to live. From here follow the River Rye for a few hundred yards before entering the woods on the far side. The walk climbs a little before dropping to the stone road bridge to the south of the abbey.
Of course if you are walking the excellent Cleveland Way this is one of the highlights on Day 1.
There is nowhere to park aside from the Rievaulx Abbey car park but the fee is deducted if you visit the Abbey itself. Free for members of English Heritage.
From the village of Rievaulx follow the riverside path along the Rye not the lane to the north. It is much more pleasant.
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