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Looking out on the castle rocks at Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire
Take in some of the best views of Brimham Rocks from the viewing platform in front of the visitor centre | © J Shepherd

Monks' walk from Brimham Rocks to Fountains Abbey

Starting at Brimham Rocks, you'll follow in the footsteps of the Cistercian monks of centuries past on this ancient trail leading you to Fountains Abbey. Along the way, you'll be met with expansive views from Riva Hill to Brimham Rocks.

A trail for walking boots or wellies

This trail can get muddy after heavy rain, so we recommend that you wear appropriate footwear for the walk.

Total steps: 6

Total steps: 6

Start point

Brimham Rocks car park; SE 2085 6458

Step 1

Brimham Rocks to Riva Hill (1.7km / 1.1 miles). From the Brimham Rocks car park, go down the road you came in on, but before reaching the public road turn right down the track marked 'Private Road' to Druids Cave farm. After about 75m – and just before the track passes between a gap in a wall with a National Trust boundary marker – there’s a footpath to your left. Take this path and then immediately take the left fork to continue to the road. Cross the road and take the footpath signposted Nidderdale Way. Follow this path for about 1km to a stile at the boundary of Brimham Rocks. Go over the stile and continue straight on, then through a gate passing the track to Riva Hill Farm on the left. Head straight on for about 250m to a junction where the paved track turns left and another track forks to the right.

Brimham Rocks to Riva Hill on the Monks' walk from Brimham Rocks to Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire
Brimham Rocks to Riva Hill | © Malcolm Secrett/National Trust

Step 2

Riva Hill to South Lane Warsill. For the short route to step 3 (0.6km / 0.4 miles), take the paved track to the left for 600m to Warsill Parish Hall, then continue a further 50m to South Lane on your left. For the full route (3.0 km / 1.9 miles), fork right through the gate and follow the track alongside the course of the medieval Monks' Wall for 1km until you reach a road. Turn left at the road then immediately left again onto the farm track signposted 'Public Bridleway / Nidderdale Way / Shaw Mills'. Follow the track through Brimham Lodge Farm, then through a wooded area and continue straight on uphill signposted 'Park House / Warsill'. After passing Park House Farm continue up the slope and just before the brow of the hill take the footpath on the right through a gate. Follow the footpath until you pass some houses on your left. After another 100m and immediately after a landscaped lake on your left, take the left-hand Public Bridleway between some houses up to the road, and turn right past Warsill Parish Hall to South Lane, 50m on your left.

Riva Hill to South Lane Warsill on the Monks' walk from Brimham Rocks to Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire
Riva Hill to South Lane Warsill | © Malcolm Secrett/National Trust

Step 3

South Lane Warsill to Jeffrey Well (1.7km / 1.1 miles). Head up South Lane for 800m to the T-junction and turn right past the Equestrian Centre. Follow the road for about 400m through two left curves to the boundary of Warren Forest Park with its holiday homes, and take the acute right-hand of the two drives on your right. Follow the drive between the buildings and up the grassy slope to reach a gate into a pasture. Go through the next two pastures, staying beside the trees on the left, then over the stile to the road and turn right. Look for a footpath on the left after about 120m.

Step 4

Jeffrey Well to Butterton Bridge (1.3km / 0.8 miles). Take the footpath and follow the line of trees straight on to a gate into the next field. Continue straight, staying close to the wall on the left. At Warsill Hill Farm, turn left on the public bridleway, then after 50m climb over the wall stile on the right. Follow the path which goes diagonally through the next pasture and take the lower of the two gates. Continue down the hill, keeping the wall on your right, through the next pasture heading straight on towards a gate into the woods. Follow the path through the woods to the right to the bottom of the valley and cross Picking Gill on Butterton Bridge.

Step 5

Butterton Bridge to Sawley Arms (2.2km / 1.4 miles). Just over the bridge and opposite to where you meet a track, you'll see steps straight ahead up into the wood. Take the steps and then the path through the wood to a track at the top. Bear right, then after 50m take the gate on the left into a pasture. Cross the pasture diagonally to the far right-hand corner, through a gate to a farm track. After 50m take the path to the left into the pasture, where you'll see Lacon Cross. Head for the far left-hand corner of the pasture, through a stone stile and down the hill heading for Lacon Hall. Follow the path around the left side of Lacon Hall to a paved drive, then along the drive for 450m to the road. Turn left at the road and continue for 550m to the Sawley Arms.

Butterton Bridge to Sawley Arms, Monks' walk from Brimham Rocks to Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire
Butterton Bridge to Sawley Arms | © Malcolm Secrett/National Trust

Step 6

Sawley Arms to Fountains Abbey (2.4km / 1.5 miles). Turn right onto Low Gate Lane and follow the road for about 1.25km, to a stile on the left just after a right-hand bend heading downhill. Go over the stile and follow the footpath down the valley and cross the River Skell by the footbridge and onto a track. Turn right and follow the track until you reach the road. Turn right on the road and head down the hill to the Fountains Abbey West Gate. Make your way up to the visitor centre for refreshments, the car park and bus stops.

End point

West Gate entrance to Fountains Abbey; SE 271 683

Trail map

Route of the monks' walk from Brimham Rocks to Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire
Route of the monks' walk from Brimham Rocks to Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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Get in touch

Brimham Moor Road, Summerbridge, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 4DW

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