Set in a beautiful location in a valley alongside the River Skell (a tributary of the River Ure), the ruins of the abbey and the 18th century designed water gardens of Studley Royal have been a World Heritage Site since 1986 and are now owned by the National Trust.
The history of the “Dissolution of the Monasteries” by Henry VIII came about through a series of complicated political and religious machinations in the late 1530s and early 1540s. Sadly Fountains was destroyed in 1539 but, despite the chequered past, the ruins have stood the test of time and remain an imposing and sometimes haunting place to walk round.
Combined with the stunning water gardens of the nearby Studley Royal Park they make a lovely walk especially on a fine day. There is an iconic picture-perfect view of the ruined abbey coming into view as you round the bend approaching from the Studley Royal end of the park.
You can start the walk at either the Fountains Abbey Visitor Centre at the top end of the site or the lower end by the lake at Studley Royal. There is a self-service restaurant serving a wide range of local produce adjacent to the Visitor Centre and a well-stocked National Trust shop nearby too (always a good spot to pick up some gifts and souvenirs!).
For a lighter snack-style meal try the tea rooms at the Studley Royal end or the Mill Cafe by the abbey ruins (formerly the Abbey Tea Rooms). Just note that the pathway from the Visitor Centre leading down to the Abbey, whilst tarmacked, is rather steep and might not be suitable for everyone.
On our recent visit in April we had lunch at the Visitor Centre Restaurant then drove back round to the Studley Royal lake entrance. From there we walked the full loop to and from the Abbey. Prices are fairly steep if you haven’t got a National Trust membership but well worth it.
Here is a pictorial tour!
Restoration of the Studley Royal Gardens is ongoing and we found some interesting information signs along the way including details of the “bosquets” (a landscape design term see here for a more detailed explanation!).
For more information about the history of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal see the link here to the relevant National Trust website.
For more interesting walks and rambles round the world join Restless Jo and her Monday Walks each week!
Copyright © 2019 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved