8 of the best things to do in Ripon, North Yorkshire

I’ve got so many posts scheduled now that I’ve got one a week ready until mid 2023! I’ve just been doing too much travel – so I’m going to have to up my posting frequency. I’m still writing up the remainder of my Baltics trips (I’ve not even got to Latvia and Estonia yet!), but before that I also had a few days in Yorkshire in early May. This is my next post in that series, following on from York, Helmsley & Rievaulx and Whitby.

Ripon is a beautiful market town in North Yorkshire, right on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It’s perfectly placed for a day trip from York, or as a base for exploring the Dales. Here are 8 amazing things to do there, which you can (just about) squeeze in to a very long day, or split leisurely across two.

1. Ripon Cathedral

This cathedral was founded as a monastery by Scottish monks in the 660s, and was then re-founded as a Benedictine monastery by St Wilfrid in 672. Today what you see is the fourth version of the cathedral, built between the 1200s- 1500s. It’s just amazing we have buildings from that long ago and it’s not even close to being the oldest in England!

The stunning interior

What I loved about the cathedral was the way it is set up as a modern cathedral. It has boards welcoming everyone of any faith, or no faith, to enter. It holds lots of community events, open to all. It lets groups use it, whether for music practice or coffee mornings – it’s just there for the community and I liked that.

I also absolutely loved all the Jubilee decorations everywhere. Elizabeth II celebrated her 70th year of reign this year, so everything was adorned in EIIR (Elizabeth II Regina) bunting. Beautiful. (And you can tell this trip was months old pre-jubilee weekend!).

Jubilee bunting everywhere

2. Fountain’s Abbey & Studley Royal

Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England. It’s just outside the centre of Ripon (about a 10 minute drive or 1hr walk along the river), but it’s well worth visiting. It was founded in 1132 and was operational for 407 years before its dissolution by our good old friend Henry VIII in 1539. And it’s MARVELLOUS.

It really is special and I absolutely loved my time exploring this wonderful place. You can go to see just the Abbey in a couple of hours, but the site is so big and beautiful, it’s well worth at least half a day (if not a full day) of your time.

Blue skies and ancient Abbeys

Be sure not to miss the gardens if you can help it, there is a water park on site and it’s just stunning to explore.

In the gardens

3. Workhouse Museum

Switching to another period of history, The Victorian Era, and there’s a great museum in the centre of Ripon at the site of the old workhouse. Workhouses were a result of the poor law in 1800s and early 1900s Britain. Those who were too poor to survive entered the workhouse, and literally worked in return for shelter and food – this was before the benefits systems was introduced and aimed to reduce homelessness and destitution. The result was institutions which seriously harmed many physically and mentally, and were often run in completely awful conditions.

The entrance to the museum

4. Police & Prison Museum

Another interesting museum in central Ripon is the Police and Prison Museum, again situated in the old prison building. It has a few really interesting exhibits, including one on the history of women in the police force – did you know women were only granted the title of PC (instead of WPC identifying them as female) in 1990? And as late as the same time, women were refused firearms training by their seniors routinely as it was seen as ungainly for them.

5. Leper’s Chapel

Another ancient building, this time built in 1139 (don’t say I don’t treat you!), the Leper’s Chapel formed part of a ‘hospital’ for secular brothers and sisters to minister to lepers and blind priests. The medieval chapel still stands, and it’s just so beautiful.

The ancient chapel

6. Market Square and shops

Ripon is home to lots of lovely shops, streets, and my favourite – tearooms. It also has a market running on some days, and it’s easy to spend an hour or so strolling around eating, drinking and browsing the shopfronts.

7. River Skell stroll

You can walk from Ripon to Fountain’s Abbey along the River Skell – or, if you don’t fancy such a long walk, walk just a section of it. It’s a really lovely riverside to follow with pretty views back over the Ripon and the cathedral.

Strolling the River Skell

8. Courthouse Museum

The Liberty Courthouse remains virtually unchanged since it was built in 1830. Explore the Jury Room with its ceremonial pair of halberds and library of 18th and 19th century manuals, plus read the story of many prisoners and magistrates on both sides of the law.

So what do you think of Ripon? I really enjoyed exploring more of Yorkshire on a recent visit and think it’s a vastly under-rated part of the country. I hope I’ve managed to show you that as well. Stay safe and happy travelling.


  1. Ripon is an attractive market town and we should perhaps go there a little more often. I do love Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal but even though we are NT members I haven’t been for awhile. Hopefully your lovely post will encourage me to do so Hannah.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting Marion – I totally agree Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal is beautiful, it took my breath away actually. Although Yorkshire is spoiled for wonderful Abbeys, they seem to be around every corner!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! You’ve been busy to have so many posts done. Could you send a few my way that I can claim?🤣 I’m amazed at the way all of these wonderful sites are kept in such great condition. They are neat as a pin. It is a great idea for the cathedral to serve as sort of a community center. That is an outstanding way to give to the community and also expose people to the church.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe of course! I have to write them as I go otherwise I forget but I’m not managing to do that at the moment and still have lots to write. I really liked the cathedral’s approach to community too, definitely felt like a great idea. Thank you for reading and have a great weekend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never heard of Ripon, but it’s a gorgeous little place! I feel you on backlogged posts: I currently have scheduled posts to last until the end of this year, so for your mid-2023 posts, I’ve very impressed! Can’t wait to read all of them!

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  4. It’s so beautiful!! I’m excited for all your posts to come! It is so great that we can travel again and have so many beautiful places to blog about. I definitely relate to having so much content to post this year. I have London, Montreal, and Newport, but I have all the holidays coming up too that I love posting about. I always wanted to blog but never knew about what, and now I have too much to blog about haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw that’s amazing you have so many too – I am particularly excited for Montreal as I’ve always wanted to visit. Ha, well you are an awesome blogger and I can’t wait to read all your upcoming posts 🙂 Have a lovely weekend


  5. Yes, I agree … the age of some the buildings you have mentioned in your posts, are mind blowing. I absolutely love your photos of the Abbey (I would have probably spent an entire day there ☺️). Ripon is another lovely place (and that walk along the river sounds like my kind of thing)! Good luck with the writing of all your posts … I won’t say that you have been bored these last couple of months then!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Crazy aren’t they! It’s when you get there and it’s from 1,000 BC or something – and you think we can’t build a block of flats to last today – how the heck did they manage to build something that long ago that has lasted so long!!! So glad you like the photos, I agree I could have spent a day at the Abbey for sure. Have a wonderful weekend and thank you for reading x

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh yes I definitely see the similarity to Crichton, though have never been there so will have to add it to the list 🙂 I agree, although quite glad for a week at home this week!! Have a wonderful weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It is indeed amazing to have such historical buildings intact after so many centuries, and the architecture is stunning! The vintage structures at the Abbey look marvelous, and is your accounting of activities in Ripon ~ thanks for sharing, Hannah 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love your posts about lesser-known places, it really shows that you can find beautiful and amazing things litterally everywhere, and you don’t have to travel all across the world for it (even though it is also nice to fly across the world ahah). I had never heard of Ripon, but it seems beautiful and I know for a fact taht I would love the abbey! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Juliette, that’s so kind of you to say. Haha I agree totally – flying across the world is always fun but not always feasible, and there’s always an adventure to be had – even in your own country 🙂


    1. So glad you enjoyed it Mike, that’s high compliments indeed coming from you. I love Yorkshire, there are so many wonderful sites to see across the region. Thanks for reading and enjoy your weekend.


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