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  • Writer's pictureKelly

Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Gardens - Our latest North East Family Adventure

We have been wanting to visit Fountains Abbey & Studley water gardens for absolutely ages and have just never gotten around to it, we finally got there a few days ago.

We already had a fair idea of what was there after reading some info first and it still got the WOW factor when we saw the Abbey. Unfortunately we didn't do everything as the boys had to get back and get ready for Scouts, so we are planning on heading back to do some more exploring. Fountains Abbey is located in Ripon , which in my opinion is a great location for a family adventure. It is only just over an hour away from us.

The attraction is now managed by National Trust and sits on 800 acres of beautiful land, Fountains Abbey is one of the largest monastery ruins in the UK and was called Fountains abbey because of the springs in the area. All activity was centred on the abbey buildings with the inner precinct protected by the riverbank and high wall. The main path led from the west to the gatehouse and this is where tradesmen and labourers would be sent across the river to the mill and workshops. It was a highly organised and self sufficient community with a large stock of sheep.

The abbey is absolutely huge and one of the biggest I have seen, although I still think Rievaulx is my favourite but just by a hair. You will find quiet a few different rooms to explore but you have to check out the cellarium! It is huge and has a very impressive ceiling. I always wonder how on earth they managed to build something like that back then.

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As we have a blue badge we parked at the west gate entrance, you do have to walk down a so please be careful if you use this entrance. Parking is free here however at the main car park you do have to pay if you are not a member (I think it is £9 for the day!) It is worth becoming a member anyway because it saves you so much money.

Upon arrival we were greeted by Kevin and handed a very large map, we then spent the next 20 minutes stroking the cat that lives there, who had taken a shine to me and Elliot.

We decided to head into the hall first, there is only three rooms to look in and there's not much but it is still worth having a quick look, you will find an old typewriter that you can have a go on and a wall full of socks!

Some parts of the garden were closed due to the grass needing to recover. From here we followed the path to the abbey but first we took a look in Porters Lodge where you can read a bit about the history and look at a full scale model with some monks chanting too.

Then we headed for the Abbey, there are no actual paths to the abbey and access is across the grass but if you have sturdy decent footwear on it will be fine, although it was a little muddy in places today. We spent quite a long time exploring the ruins I do think some info boards would be a great asset for people to read and learn about each section and how it would have been used, not everyone buys the guidebook. (We do as we collect them)

The site is well signposted and it is fairly easy to make your way around the whole site.

There are toilets at three sites across the whole place so not too many, so be well prepared.

From the abbey we headed down to the Studley Water Gardens, We didn't explore this area much if I'm honest as we didn't have lots of time due to the boys scouting commitments, but we do have plans to head back and explore that a bit more.

We did go to the café around 1pm but they didn't have much left so we headed into Ripon and had lunch elsewhere, we also had a walk around the market and purchased a few goodies before heading back home. We have plans to explore the are more soon and we will 100% be going back to explore the Water gardens.

To explore:

🌻Large abbey ruins

🌻Water Gardens and lots of monuments to explore

🌻Deer park

🌻Adventure playground

🌻Porters lodge

🌻Fountains Mill

🌻Fountains Hall

🌻De Greys Walk

🌻Hall Garden & Orchard (this was closed on our visit)

🌻Various bridges to cross the river

🌻Ann Boleyn's seat

🌻Temple of Fame

🌻Octagon Tower

🌻Temple of piety

🌻Moon Pond

🌻Banqueting house

🌻Fishing Tabernacles

🌻Ice Houses

🌻St Marys church

🌻Bird Hide

🌻Lots and lots of wildlife

Good to know

🌻Three parking areas (£9 all day if you're not a member) Deer parking is first come first served, Disabled parking at West gate entrance

🌻Be prepared to spend all day there to try and do everything because it is huge and there is lots of walking

🌻Please do not let your child climb on the ruins, it is a historical building for more do and don'ts check out the NT website HERE

🌻Visitors centre is located at main car park along with the restaurant, play area and toilets

🌻Three toilet locations, Main car park, West gate entrance, Studley royal entrance.

🌻Cafe, tea rooms and restaurant on site, although one was closed on our entrance which meant the one we went to didn't have much left come 1pm

🌻Guide book is available for £5 from the entry points

🌻Lake side walks

🌻Resident cat

🌻Dogs allowed on short leads!

🌻No pre booking needed

🌻Hand sanitiser everywhere

🌻800 acres

🌻Mobility scooters available but these need to be pre booked

🌻Loads of picnic opportunities

🌻Most of the paths are accessible although it is quite hilly and steep in places.

🌻Free entry for National Trust and English heritage members

🌻Plenty of benches to rest on

🧡Opening times vary for different areas, so please check before travelling.

🧡For a family ticket it would have cost us £46.80 but we are members so it is a huge saving (a third of the annual cost) plus we well use our membership so if you are not a member already it is definitely worth considering because it saves you a small fortune (think of all those free days out you can have in the summer)

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