Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens near Ripon in North Yorkshire make a great day out at any time of year. The properties are cared for by the National Trust and have UNESCO World Heritage status. The photos here are from a recent visit on a snowy winter’s day.
The ruins of Fountains Abbey are hugely impressive and atmospheric. They are the largest monastic ruins in the country, situated in a sheltered wooded valley with limestone outcrops.
You can easily spend an hour or two exploring the buildings, and wondering what life would have been like for the Cistercian monks who lived here.
Studley Royal Water Gardens and Park, in which the abbey is situated, are great for stretching the legs. Well constructed paths allow you to wander around the beautiful Georgian water gardens. There are lovely views of the abbey and surrounding hills and woods.
Being lovers of nature and trees, we particularly like to explore the paths through the ancient woodland. There are some magnificent old trees.
Some of the trees look decidedly precarious, as the slope they are growing on has been gradually eroded.
There are also some interesting follies to discover within the gardens and woods.
If you are in the North of England it is definitely worth spending a day exploring Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. And if you have only visited during the summer, remember that the abbey and gardens are equally beautiful on a frosty or snowy winter’s day.
The visitor centre at Fountains Abbey has a large restaurant and excellent gift shop. There is also a charming tea room situated by a lake in the Studley Royal Water Gardens, and another smaller tea room which is open in the summer.
If you like to visit National Trust properties regularly, membership makes a lot of sense.
As a member you get free access to over 500 National Trust properties (including National Trust for Scotland), and free parking in many NT car parks. Just a few visits will recover the membership fee and you will then be saving money. You can visit as often as you like, and you will be contributing towards the care and maintenance of these very special places.
For information on how to get to Fountains Abbey, opening times, access and prices for non-members see this page.