Views and vistas walk
Follow the trail and enjoy views that inspired artist J.M.W. Turner.
Rievaulx Terrace Visitor Centre
From Rievaulx Terrace Visitor Centre turn left through the gate and follow the permissive footpath down the bank through the woodland. Take care in wet weather as the bank can be muddy.
At the bottom of the bank, turn left along the road into Rievaulx Village. On your left you’ll pass the church of St Mary the Virgin, which was originally the gateway ‘Slipper’ chapel of the abbey. The ruin was restored by local landowner the Earl of Feversham in 1906 to become the village church.
Follow the road through the village, taking time to enjoy the views of the ruined Rievaulx Abbey on your left. Many of the houses in the village are converted from abbey buildings, such as the brew house and the old water mill.
The abbey's name comes from the French word "Rievalle", meaning Rye valley. It was founded in 1131 by twelve French monks, attracted by its sheltered position near the river Rye. The valley became an agricultural and industrial hub, transforming Rievaulx into one of the largest and richest Cistercian houses in England. After it was suppressed by Henry VIII in 1538, the villagers continued farming and smelting iron ore in the valley. It is now run by English Heritage.
As you continue along the road you’ll pass the English Heritage car park on your left, which has toilets.
As the road continues along the bank of the river Rye, take time to look behind you at the view of the abbey. This view from the other side of the river was painted by J.M.W. Turner in 1826, but has now been blocked by trees.
Rievaulx Abbey, 1826 by Turner
Artist J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) visited Rievaulx at least twice, in 1801 and 1816 on a tour of the north. This painting was done for his series 'Picturesque Views of England and Wales' in 1826, and is notable for its atmospheric composition of the hills and skyline surrounding the abbey. Turner was renowned for his watercolour landscape paintings and his skill in capturing light.
As you reach the bridge, turn left and continue down the road, passing through the fields that used to form the major part of the abbey’s income through sheep farming.
As the road goes up the hill, bear right and follow the footpath.
When the footpath turns right into woodland, turn back onto the road and continue up the hill. As the road winds through the woods, look out for the woodland colours and falling leaves in the autumn, and butterflies in the summer.
Continue walking up the road until you reach the track to Griff Farm, formerly part of the abbey’s lands. A village at Griff is mentioned in the Domesday Book, but it's unclear whether the monks evicted the villagers to make room for the grange, or whether they simply took over a deserted area. Turn left through the farm gate into the field, following the black waymarker arrows.
Walk along the boundary of the field, turning left at the end to walk parallel to the road. Continue through the gate at the end and you’ll find yourself back at the entrance to Rievaulx Terrace.
Walk down the drive towards Rievaulx Terrace where you’ll finish your walk. Take some time to enjoy the Terrace and Temples, and get a completely different view of the abbey from high above it.
The Terrace and Temples were built by the Duncombe family in 1758 to offer the best views of the abbey below. Take a stroll through the woodland before turning back along the terrace, where the carefully shaped treeline reveals twelve different views. It is now run by the National Trust.
Rievaulx Terrace Visitor Centre
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