Ampleforth Abbey

Ampleforth Weekend – April 2022

17 Footprinters enjoyed the May bank holiday weekend at Ampleforth Abbey near Helmsley, North Yorkshire. It was nice to welcome new member Sophie and to see Jennifer on her flying visit. The Abbey is home to a Benedictine order, compared to ‘the hair shirt’ Cistercian monks they could be described as the ‘deckchair’ monks.

We were warmly welcomed and looked after by Father Kevin who was in charge of hospitality. We enjoyed a tour of the Abbey on Friday afternoon led by Father Hugh whose role was to look after visitors to the Abbey. We were given an open invitation to attend any of the daily services we wished to. Most people took up the invitation on at least one occasion for compline or vespers; I don’t think anyone made it to matins at 5.30am though. It was a real privilege to attend the services and listen to the monks chanting and singing, a beautiful experience not to be forgotten. Peter and Roger were given the opportunity to play the Abbey organ one afternoon, I can’t vouch for whether that sounded beautiful or not.

The Grange where we stayed was very well appointed with a lovely lounge and library area, hot drinks on tap and an honesty bar, though some were still tempted to visit the village hostelry on one evening.

We enjoyed a choice of walks on all three days and good weather too. It was rumoured that the B+ group actually did a higher mileage than the A’s on one day, though not necessarily intentionally! All walkers visited Helmsley and Rivieux Abbey at some point and passed pig pens containing lots of piglets which initially found us very scary then got braver and came nearer to investigate before realising we were just as friendly/normal as them.

On the Monday instead of walking four Footprinters continued the cultural experience and visited the World of James Herriot in Thirsk (in case you weren’t aware it’s in the top 10% of best attractions worldwide).

Thank you to Chris for organising the weekend, Julian for leading the A walks and Chris plus assistants for leading the B & B+ walks.