abbey walks

Stage 2b - Whixley to Fountains Abbey, direct




27.7km / 17.2 miles

Explorer maps


Leeds - OL289, Ripon & Boroughbridge - OL299



7 - 7.5 hours average time based on Naismith’s rule

Total ascent   307m

Total descent





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This is a very pleasant and easy walk. Whixley was known by the Normans as 'Cucheslaga' but in the 14th century was re-named 'Quixley' after the local Lord of the Manor. From Whixley the path passes through fields and then goes parallel to the Roman Road of Dere Street, now the A1/M1 in order to reach the village of Arkendale. In the Domesday Book of 1086 this village is known as 'Arghendene' or 'Archeden', and in 1166 it appears as 'Herchenden'. These are the only time that these name versions occur as 'Erkendene' was the usual spelling.


From Whixley the route continues by road to the medieval village of Ferrensby which was mentioned in the Domesday Book as 'Feresbi'. It is suggested that the name may derive from ‘farmstead' or 'village of the man from the Faroe Islands’ through the Scandinavian word ‘Faereyingr’ meaning a man or men from the Faroe Islands. The route then follows the Knaresborough Round and then the Ripon Rowel Walk past Stainley Hall (of 1516 which is now owned by the Staveley family along with Light Water theme park) and then through the village of South Stainley.


From South Stainley the Prior Richard Way continues on the Ripon Rowel Walk past the site of Wallerthwaite ( a deserted medieval village which was probably abandoned following the plague ) to reach Markington. From Markington the route leaves the Ripon Rowel Walk and continues on way-marked paths to reach Fountain's Lane, Fountain's Bridge and then finally Fountains Abbey.



Walk Description :


1 - With the public house behind you turn right signed High Street to the main village of Whixley. Turn left on Church Street which becomes West Lane to pass a Minotaur on the right, it won’t bite! Take the next left, signed Private Road no access, to pass High Farm on the right.


2 - After passing the second house, where the path turns right, continue ahead through the hedge andstraight on between the fields to a track at the end. Turn right and before the wood turn left on the footpath to reach a track. Bear right to the T-junction and turn left, direction A168 2/3 mile to pass houses on the left.


3 - At the tarmac lane turn right to the T-junction, then turn right onto the Bridleway / old road to reach the new A168 road.Turn right to pass the Farm shop and then after passing Rougham Farm on the same side, turn left across the A1/M1 road, direction Arkendale.


4 - In Arkendale continue past the church on the left and past the public house on the right to leave the village. Continue along the road to reach Ferrensby. Cross over the main road to Farnham Lane and continue ahead until the last house on the right and immediately turn right through the 

wooden gate, signed Knarsborough Round to reach a wooden bridge on the left.


5 - Cross over and turn right past the large pond on the right  and just before the end of it bear left diagonally across the field to reach the old railway line. Bear right along it to naturally reach a field. Turn right and follow the field boundary. After passing through two metal gates continue along the right of the field boundary to pass anelectricity pole, ignore the path right but continue ahead to the corner of the field and turn right through the hedge and the left to reach Copgrove lane.


6 - Turn right and as the road bends right turn left on the road, direction Cosgrove. After crossing the ford over Occaney Beck, turn left signed Knaresborough Round to pass in front of Markington Hall Farm. Continue between the hedges and through a metal gate to reach a T-junction. Turn

right up the Bridleway to reach a small tarmac road. Continue ahead and 

before Green Lane passes over a stream turn left along the Bridleway to pass over cattle grids and through fields to reach a T-junction, Stanley Lane.


7 - Turn right to pass Stainley Hall on the right to then reach the village of South Stainley. After passing the church on the right continue along the Church Lane and before reaching a group of three houses on the right and the end of the lane, turn right. Follow the left side of the field boundary and then straight ahead towards the electricity mast keeping it on the right to reach a stile to the main road A61.


8 - Turn right on the road and then left on the track passing a yellow metal barrier. Continue on the Ripon Rowel path with a hedge boundary on the left, crossing over a stream to reach a T-junction with a building on the right. Continue ahead passing the building to ignore the path on the right into the caravan park but arrive at a crossroad and the village High Street.


9 - Cross over straight over onto Westerns Lane, pass over the stream and then bear right onto the Bridleway opposite Croft Street. Continue ahead into the cricket field passing the building on the left to the football field. Bear left almost behind the goal net up the steps to continue straight ahead with a field boundary on the left. Pass through a kissing gate, across the field to reach a road.

10 - Turn left and pass between the wall and the house, through the trees to reach a small lane. Turn right and immediatelyleft up the stone steps in the wall. Cross the stile and the field to reach a farmhouse ahead. Turn left and keep to the right of the field to reach a stile. Cross over and continue on the track ahead and at the corner turn right and then left through the fir trees. At the end turn diagonally right to reach and cross a stile and Strait Lane. Turn left through the gate and along the permissive path to reach Whitcliffe Lane.


11 - Turn left along the lane and take the footpath right across the field to the stile and diagonally right across the next heading towards the telegraph pole keeping it on the right to reach another stile. Cross into the very boggy field to the right of the building ahead, Ninevah and ahead to Fountains Lane. Turn right and follow the road to Fountains Abbey and the entrance to the right of buildings ahead where the road bends left.



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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.