Rievaulx Circular Walk

A circular walk around the countryside West of Rievaulx Abbey, passing the fish ponds that were established by the monks, the lovely village of Old Byland and its ancient church, then Caydale Mill and the valley that returns to the River Rye and the emerging views of Rievaulx Abbey.

Technical sheet
No. 3809019
A Old Byland and Scawton walk posted on 12/08/20 by Alwayswiththehills. Update : 06/09/21
Calculated time Calculated time: 3h30[?]
Distance Distance : 6.67mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 469ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 463ft
Highest point Highest point : 712ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 256ft
Average Difficulty : Average
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : North York Moors
Location Location : Old Byland and Scawton
Starting point Starting point : N 54.254475° / W 1.119438°
Download : -
Rievaulx Abbey Carving Old Byland Church Rievaulx Bridge


This is a circular walk and as such you can start from a variety of places on the way. However, starting from Rievaulx Abbey means that you can combine the walk with a visit to the ruins of the Abbey and Rievaulx Terrace.

English Heritage is currently (2020) running a booking system for entry to the abbey and parking is restricted to those with bookings, regardless of membership.

There is some limited parking on the road just before the abbey and a lay-by for four cars about a 150m after the abbey, which is where this walk starts from. (Other parking in the area will be highlighted in the description below.)

(D/A) From the lay-by follow the road South, for a short way there is a narrow path on the right beside the river but otherwise you will be on the road, take care to walk in single file. You will arrive at a T junction and a very scenic bridge on the right. (Rievaulx Bridge)

(1) Turn right and pass over Rievaulx Bridge. Immediately after the bridge, there is a delightful cottage, continue along the road to a triangular junction on the right.

(2) There is a space for 2 carefully parked cars on the right side on the triangular junction. Ignore the junction and continue along the road, passing Hagg Hall on the left to a track on the right.

(3) There is parking for 3 carefully parked cars at the junction. Turn right and follow the track through a gate, you will soon come to a series of ponds on the right. These were built by the monks and stocked as fish ponds to provide food. They are currently (2020) being excavated to remove silt and restore them and this will also serve as a catchment for water and help prevent flooding downstream in times of heavy rain. At the end of the lakes, the track splits.

(4) Turn right and cross the stream using some well made stepping stones. After these ignore the bridge on the right and instead go through a gate on the left into a field. On the far side is another bridge, cross this to gain the path running steadily up through Callister Wood, with a collapsed and overgrown dry stone wall on the left. At the top go through a gate and into a cultivated field. Follow the side of the field and pass into a second field, this will lead you to a farm track. Go straight over the track and a patch of grass and through a gate into some woods. Turn left and walk through the woods. The path passes over some bedding planes of the local limestone which is worn smooth by the passing of feet. It can be slippery and there are nettles so take care that an inadvertent slip does not send you into these. (In summer the nettles can be invasive so trousers rather than shorts will make your passage through this section more enjoyable.) The path will lead out of the wood and up to a road.

(5) Go through a gate and turn right onto the road. Walk in single file into the delightful village of Old Byland. Pass one turning on the left and then take the left bend in the road turning up past the village green. The entrance to the church is on the right, beside The Rectory. Take some time to view it; the church is Anglo Saxon with some later Norman additions. The carvings around the door and bell tower window are of particular note. (It would also be possible to park in Old Byland)
Return across the green and turn right to follow the road through the village, uphill again. At the T junction turn left and at the next T junction turn right. After a short distance arrive at a T junction where the road bends to the left; go straight ahead on the narrower road. After about 500m the road turns to the left and descends. Below and on the right you will see a house below you (Caydale Mill), look out for a gate on the right.

(6) Go through this gate and onto the bridle path above the mill which is now a private house. The bridle track passes across the moor and then through another gate and into woods. (The path through the woods can be muddy, even in dry spells so make sure you have suitable footwear) The path descends gently and then eventually passes through two more gates to bring you out on a farm track.

(7) Go straight ahead (ignore the turnings left to Tylas Farm and right up into a field and to Tylas Barn) and follow the track to a small stream and picnic bench, look to the left for a narrow path.

(8) Take the path on the left and through a gate to follow the path beside a field with the River Rye beyond that, A meander in the river will bring it towards the path where a well constructed wooden walkway makes this section passable in the wet. After this the path crosses beside a second field and up through a gate to a farm track. (An alternative is to continue along the track which leads up and then down to point (9) This might be useful if the River Rye is swollen)

(9) Turn left on the track and follow it to cross Bow Bridge, the track bends to the right and starts to ascend. Look out for a wooden signpost on the right.(Inn Way, Rievaulx)

(10) Follow the signpost, go through a gate into a field and cross this diagonally in the direction of the river, to cross a small stream into a second field, Follow the path beside the 'canal' and then pass through two more wooden gates, into and out of a farm yard, to gain the road running through Rievaulx.

(11) Turn right and walk past the abbey and back to your car.(D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 276ft - Rievaulx Abbey
1 : mi 0.26 - alt. 259ft - Rievaulx Bridge
2 : mi 0.5 - alt. 292ft - Space for a few car
3 : mi 0.97 - alt. 387ft - Space for a few car
4 : mi 1.5 - alt. 400ft - Stream
5 : mi 2.55 - alt. 623ft - Gate
6 : mi 3.53 - alt. 515ft - Gate
7 : mi 4.94 - alt. 387ft - Tylas Farm
8 : mi 5.25 - alt. 322ft - Path
9 : mi 5.82 - alt. 282ft - Bow Bridge
10 : mi 6.03 - alt. 299ft - Signpost
11 : mi 6.42 - alt. 272ft - Rievaulx
D/A : mi 6.67 - alt. 269ft - Rievaulx Abbey

Useful Information

There are few places to take shelter on this walk but the woodland does provide some shade from the sun if doing the walk a hot day.

Take everything you need with you. As mentioned one section suffers from encroaching nettles in the summer and trousers rather than shorts are useful. The path can be muddy in places, especially the woodland section from Caydale Mill so appropriate footwear will help.

The walk can be shortened from point 4 by taking the Inn Way path which leads around the back of the fish ponds and over to point 9 via Reins Farm.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

Opinions and comments


Global average : 4.56/5
Number of opinions : 6
Description quality : 4.5/5
Routemap quality : 4.5/5
Walk interest : 4.67/5

on Mon 15 Nov 2021 11:45:13 CET

Global average : 4.33 / 5

Date of walk : 26/10/21
Description quality : Good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Good

An enjoyable walk and as we'd parked along the route (good advice about where to park) we had a pleasant stop at the Abbey cafe before finishing the walk.

It had rained a few days before our walk so the guidance about some parts being muddy is worth taking note off - from point 6 on the day we walked. Easily passable but probably not good for white Nikes! A few ups and downs but nothing that should cause a moderately fit person any issues.

Worth noting, where the route description states you arrive at T junctions near Old Byland, it's side turns you take but with a copy of the map the route obvious.

A nice walk I'd happily recommend - thank you to poster.

on Mon 06 Sep 2021 18:30:46 CEST

Thanks for the feedback re pt 5.

The description has been changed to "After a short distance arrive at a T junction where the road bends to the left; go straight ahead on the narrower road."

on Mon 06 Sep 2021 11:09:54 CEST

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 04/09/21
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

Excellent walk but in description 5 where it says : 'After a short distance, the road takes a turn to the right; go straight ahead'.
The road actually takes a turn to the left, so go straight ahead at that point!

on Wed 18 Aug 2021 19:59:01 CEST

Global average : 3.67 / 5

Date of walk : 18/08/21
Description quality : Good
Routemap quality : Average
Walk interest : Good

Enjoyable walk with good scenery and history.
Started at Old Byland as no issues parking. We're some unexpected heavy climbs taking the walk description. Also some confusing directions that led to deviations. Got around though.

on Mon 24 May 2021 11:11:23 CEST

Global average : 4.33 / 5

Date of walk : 19/05/21
Description quality : Good
Routemap quality : Good
Walk interest : Very good

Very good walk. The pleasant weather helped. Finding safe parking can be difficult.

on Mon 03 May 2021 13:51:33 CEST

Good advice to ignore the gate opposite Hagg Hall! The farmer has installed an electric fence which means you have to return to the road anyway!

on Mon 03 May 2021 13:48:52 CEST

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 30/04/21
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

This is an excellent walk - we started at Point 5 in the description because we thought car parking would be easier - and so it was! This also had the benefit that half-way around the walk we were able to buy lunch at the Rievaux Abbey cafe! No other refreshment points were encountered!
A relatively easy walk without too much hill-climbing that took us about 3.5 hours. Varied terrain and very typical of the NY Moors. Lots of interest and not at all busy - hardly saw anyone all the way around. We did it during a dry-spell so all the paths were easy walking, some would be very muddy in wetter periods.

We did get confused with the directions around Point 4 after the Fish Ponds! After you cross the stepping stones you should turn right into the field (to be consistent with the map) and cross it to take the bridge and then up through Callister Woods (otherwise, you will have to continue along the track to the road back to Old Byland - as did we, and that adds a couple of miles to the walk).

We will certainly do this walk again (and get it right next time!).

on Mon 17 Aug 2020 16:30:48 CEST

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 15/08/20
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

We really enjoyed this walk. We had done parts of it before as smaller circular walks, but this fitted two of our previous walks together, and it was interesting to see how they connected. We parked at Old Byland, because we knew that there would definitely be parking there and it was a shorter drive for us than to Rievaulx. When we had walked from Rievaulx in the past, we had always done that part of this walk the opposite way round, so were delighted at the lovely view of the Abbey going in the other direction! The walk has plenty of variety, and it was interesting to walk by the monks' fish ponds near Rievaulx. There are good views on the walk and the terrain is varied. The walk from Rievaulx is on the road, but there is very little traffic, so it's okay. Make sure you ignore the gate opposite Hagg Hall near Rievaulx and walk slightly further up the road.

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