Finding ourselves with a day to spare in Yorkshire on a recent break, we packed up our cameras and English Heritage membership and headed to Fountains Abbey + Studley Royal Water Garden in Ripon.
As a combined National Trust + English Heritage property, we enjoyed entrance to the site for free as part of the membership ticket to this UNESCO property.
Nestled in a valley outside the beautiful Cathedral city of Ripon, Fountains Abbey and the adjoined Studley Royal Water Garden is fun for all the family. Starting at the swish visitor centre, we made our way down the ‘cliff’ to the sprawling 800 acrew property which includes the Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens.
The Abbey itself, a home for Benedictine Monks and the Cistercian order for over 400yr, is ruined but palatial in size with plenty of rooms and cubbies to explore, the grounds have plenty of space to have picnics and for the kids to run around. Well behaved dogs are also welcome!
After a once around the Abbey, we started the beautiful walk through the Studely Royal Water Gardens which was once part of a privately owned estate. There’s beautiful falls, pools, statues, a lake and follies dotted throughout which made exploring a fun way to spend the 2nd half of the day.
On hand throughout the entire property are volunteer helpers with their bright arm bands to give you information or directions to the best bits to see. Although it was just an absolute pleasure to wander around and take in the nature. The estate is home to deer and a pretty dare devil flock of geese who buzzed us as we walked by the lake!
There’s a lot of walking to do but the paths are all very well maintained and suitable for prams and wheelchairs. For the less mobile, there’s a free courtesy bus from the visitor centre down to the Abbey and along to the lake and vice versa. We timed it just right as we couldn’t face walking back up the big hill after trailing round the estate all day! No siree!
The visitor centre is well packed with a gift shop and large restaurant and there’s also a cafe by the lake with toilets and a further cafe in the Mill building. Parking is also free and there are 3 decent car parks to choose from, depending on where you’d like to start your day from. The best thing in the whole day was how impressed I was that the gift shop sold suntan lotion – we have ALL been caught out and as we were visiting in August, they had obviously thought about visitors being exposed to the sun all day – kudos Fountains Abbey! I was so impressed, I even took a photo!