L.L. Diamond

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When you venture out to visit Fountains Abbey, there is bound to be something for everyone! The entire property consists of 800 acres, and in that space, the National Trust cares for Studley Royal (an 18th century water garden), Fountains Abbey (The largest Cistercian ruins in Europe), a Jacobean mansion, and a church built in the Victorian era and designed by William Burges. Viewing this is a good deal of walking, but definitely worth the time spent at the end of the day–and I would set aside a day to take in everything. It definitely earns its place as a World Heritage Site in my opinion.

We set out on a misty/rainy England morning to Fountains Abbey and managed to get down to the ruins before the rain began in earnest. I have to say that the abbey must have been absolutely incredible when it was whole. It’s enormous with an arched doorway on the inside dwarfing anyone who stands beneath it. My daughter and son are standing inside because I couldn’t resist taking the shot to show the scale of the opening.

Not only are the ruins beautiful, but the location is so picturesque. It’s easy to find a multitude of camera angles to take some amazing shots if you love to play at photography like I do.

From Fountains Abbey, we followed the paths to Studley Royal Water Garden, which was built by John Aislibie in the 18th century. It was his son William who purchased the property containing Fountains Abbey. Unfortunately, the Studley Royal Hall was destroyed by a fire in 1946, but at least  the gardens remain for us to enjoy.

The gardens consist of several paths which circle a series of man-made lakes. The lakes are sourced from a river that flows up the hill from the property and are embellished with statuary and temples common in the Georgian Era.

As we walked, we crossed paths with pheasants and a few other birds, and my children enjoyed the temples/follies. There is also a scenic point where you can look down over the valley and see Fountains Abbey in the distance. It is an amazing view!

We spent several hours between touring Fountains Abbey and walking the water garden, but as the day wore on, the rain increased. Even with our raincoats, we were cold and our legs were about soaked through, so we decided to call it a day without viewing the house or the church. I do want to return in better weather and see everything again as well as finish touring the site!


Next… Middleham Castle!


8 thoughts on “Fountains Abbey

  1. tgruy says:

    What a wonderful place!


    1. It really is! Thanks, tgruy!


  2. Michelle Hall says:

    So glad you liked Fountains Abbey Leslie, it is one of my all time favourite places and Death in Pemberley was filmed there, which I am sure you are aware. My family and I are staying in a cottage next to Fountains Abbey for the New Year.


    1. I actually have not read or watched Death Comes to Pemberley (I know *GASP*). I watched the reviews and reactions coming in and the casting and just decided I wasn’t interested. The cottage sounds amazing, though. I’ve heard there’s a great choral event they have for Christmas, but I don’t know if I’ll get to do it. Kind of a lengthy day trip.


  3. Thank you so much for sharing. Another place to add for when I finally get to England.


    1. It’s definitely a do not miss, Debbie. Even in the rain!


  4. Anji says:

    It’s such a shame the weather was so awful for your visit, Leslie. You probably missed quite a bit that was worth seeing but I can well understand why you had to cut short your visit. Yorkshire can be miserable in the wet!

    We’re very lucky in that Fountains Abbey is, at the most, half an hour’s drive from where we live. We go there several times a year, especially when we have people staying who’ve never been there before. In the spring, the snowdrops in the wooded areas are lovely to look at. Did you see the model of what the Abbey would have looked like if it was still intact? Such a shame that Fountains, and other similar places, were so badly treated in the past.

    The viewpoint in your photo that shows the ruins in the distance, is called Anne Boleyn’s Seat. I don’t think it has anything to do with the unfortunate second queen of Henry VIII, but there is a headless statue on the other side of the path from the viewpoint. Along that path, as you’ll have seen, there are several temples/follies. The one in your photo is the Temple of Fame. Did you go down (or up) through the tunnel in the hillside from the top/bottom of the hill? It’s quite unnerving as there’s a bend in it which means you can’t see one end from the other.

    If you carry on past the other end of the lake from the Water Gardens, there’s a path along the river valley that’s called the Valley of the Seven Bridges, for obvious reasons. You can often see deer roaming there which have come from the deer park that’s part of the extended estate associated with the Abbey. If there’s been a lot of rain, you have to use the bridges, but if it’s been dry, then you can walk, dry shod, across the fords associated with them. The tearoom by the lake does excellent Yorkshire cream teas, by the way!

    On the hill above the lake and car park, is St. Mary’s church, also worth seeing for the beautiful ceiling, stained glass and whimsical little details in the carved marble.

    Plenty still to see on another visit should you ever manage another trip up here.


    1. It was Anne Boleyn’s seat! I do remember that now. I should’ve pulled a map up when writing this, but didn’t even think about it. My husband and children went up the walk while I waited at one point. I thought the paths would converge again down by the dam (that’s fenced off right now for repairs), but of course, it didn’t and we ended up losing each other. It was a crazy day. I saw all of the follies from the lower path, but by the time we all found each other, we were about soaked through. My husband took me up to Anne Boleyn’s seat so I could see the view and we began walking back.

      I do want to go back in better weather, but it was still a beautiful place. I wasn’t disappointed. I would love to do more of the walks over by the Water Gardens. I’ll have to remember that! Thanks, Anji!


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