RIEVAULX is my favourite abbey in Yorkshire. Not so much because of the stone work and character of the abbey itself, but its setting in the valley floor. This short walk takes you round the immediate area where the monks worked and plied their trade.

This is a short walk with Rievaulx Abbey as its focus being usually in view. However, the walk also explores the little hamlet that grew up around the abbey and includes a pleasant stroll in the woods. Parking is best on the lane outside the abbey remains, although it may be possible to park in the abbey car park (at a cost but refundable if you enter the abbey grounds). From here head north with the River Rye on your left towards the immaculate buildings that remain of the old village of Rievaulx. Where the road bends, take the footpath headed to Bow Bridge. The path heads on the left side of the hedge and it is possible to see the small canal which was built by the monks to supply water to the abbey. Carry along the gravel track till it meets the river near Crabtree Hall. Cross the river over Bow Bridge.

Once you have crossed the river follow the road for a further 150 metres before taking a left turn in to Ashberry Woods (signposted Ashberry). The path climbs a little as it enters the woods which provides some good views through the trees to the abbey. The impressive and classic temples are pleasantly seen from here. Follow the path through the woods for half a mile till it starts to gradually drop towards a road, passing just above Ashberry Farm. As the path descends there are some good views down Ryedale (away from the abbey). On reaching the road, turn left over a red bridge and immediately left again before passing over the River Rye at Rievaulx Bridge. It is then a final half mile stroll back to the car at the abbey.

You may well wish to explore the abbey in more details. It is managed by English Heritage and costs £10 for an adult to enter (free if you are a member). There is a café and shop. Rievaulx Abbey was the first Cistercian Abbey to be built in England and took about 40 years to complete during the mid-12th century. At its peak more than 600 monks and lay helpers lived here, but by the time Henry VIII tried to find a solution to his marital problems, in 1538, there was little more than a dozen living there. They made their livings though mining lead and iron, sheep farming and selling wool to European merchants.

Rievaulx did become one of the richest abbeys in the country and was surely one of the most beautiful. It still is which is why exploring the area around in this short walk makes for such an enjoyable outing. With half-term coming up it is a great visit for families with children while everyone else can visit at another time.

Fact box:

Distance: Roughly 2.5 miles

Height to Climb: 100m (320ft)

Start: SE 575851. Park on the road outside the abbey or in the abbey car park if you wish to visit its remains.

Difficulty: Easy.

Refreshments: There is a café run by English Heritage at the abbey, alternatively head towards the nearest main town, Helmsley three miles away.

Be Prepared:The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL26) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk. Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company in the Yorkshire Dales:

• He has published 2 books on walks in the Dales, ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’ and ‘The Dales 30’ mountains. Available direct from the Where2walk website.

• Book a Navigation Training day (Beginners or Intermediates) this year. Dates and information on the website.

• Where2walk also run Navigation weekends in the Dales and the ‘3 Peaks in 3 Days’ guided walks. Full details also on the website

Jonathan’s popular website, Where2walk.co.uk also features 100’s of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs