Fountain’s Abbey & Studley Park

  • Ruins of a Cistercian Abbey
  • Ancient deer park
  • World Heritage Site

Nothing rugged about Fountains Abbey or Studley Park, just a dramatically preserved abbey set next to a beautiful country park. The walk through the ancient ruins conjures up images over an 800 year period; apparently the abbey was founded by just 13 wandering monks before becoming one of the richest monasteries in the land – Henry VIII must have been extremely grateful!

The great wealth was generated by the lay helpers at the abbey, not the Cistercian monks who were obliged to spend the majority of time at prayer. Following the Dissolution in 1538 the monastery fell in to disrepair but two centuries later the Royal estate of Studley Park was reunited with that of the abbey and the picturesque Water Gardens were built. The Victorians loved it here, spending hours wandering the grounds and picnicking with the deer but it was not until 1983 that the site became a World Heritage Site.

The National Trust now own and manage the land with great success, I found that I could wander freely and explore intimately the entire area without any sense that I should not…something they do not always achieve. The walk is 3 miles long and takes in the Abbey, the Water Gardens and the deer park but I would suggest following in the footsteps of Anne Boleyn on the higher ground of the Water Garden for the surprising follies and wonderful views.

Recommend: Take time to visit the mill, the oldest building on site but now a great example of a working watermill

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Fountain's Abbey map

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OS Map: O/S 1.25,000. Explorer 26
Start Point: SE 272688. The main car parks at the visitor centre are free but it does cost £8.50 to visit the abbey and grounds. It is all National Trust land. I suggest starting at the mill.
Height to Climb: 28 ms (92 feet)
Terrain: Pushchair/wheelchair friendly paths lead all round the Abbey and the Water Garden. Anne Boleyn's view is a bit of a push though.
Eating & Drinking: The Lakeside tea shop has the most fantastic views - unsurpassed in the Yorkshire Dales. There is a less impressive tea shop in the main visitor centre.
Similar Walks Nearby: A walk up to Brimham Rocks
River Ure at Jervaulx Abbey
The Lost World of Dallowgill
Places to Stay: