Boots, gaiters and vistas walk at Fountains Abbey
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, Ripon, HG4 3DYRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
This route will take you around the boundary of the estate with fantastic views of the Abbey to enjoy. After taking in the sights of the deer park, walk through the 18th-century water garden and past the Abbey.
- Bus stop
Start: Visitor Centre, grid ref: SE272687
Leave the visitor centre on the main (right hand) access path to the Abbey. Pass Swanley Grange, following signs to Fountains Hall. Pass the Hall on the right and go through the West Gate exit, turning left onto the road to Harrogate. Follow the road uphill for 400m, turning left at a gate by a bridleway sign.
Built by Sir Stephen Proctor in 1604 at a cost of £3,000. Some stones from the nearby Abbey, which Proctor purchased in 1598, were used to build the hall.
Go through the gate and follow the clear path ahead - initially with a hedge on the right and then the Abbey wall. On reaching the end of the wall, go through a gate and cross a field, by a fenced path. Take the last gate on the right to follow a clear farm track to Hill House Farm.
The Abbey was founded in 1132 by 13 disillusioned Benedictine monks from York, who subsequently joined the stricter Cistercian order. The main building work took place during the 12th and 13th centuries. The Abbey grew to be the wealthiest in Britain before being dissolved in 1539.
Initially turn right past farm buildings - watch out for waymarkers taking you first left and then right past the final farm buildings and through a gate into a field. (TAKE CARE: farmyard and tracks can be muddy and slippery.) Continue ahead on clear track until the hedge on your right ends. Then veer slightly left and go through a gate into the corner of the wood ahead of you.
Follow the well-marked path ahead, along the left-hand edge of the wood, passing the impressive estate gate, ruined Mackershaw lodges and the Mackershaw deer park beyond. Continue along the woodland path with a wall to your left, eventually bearing right downhill to a junction of paths. Take the left-hand path, continuing downhill to reach the River Skell.
Mackershaw deer park was purchased from the Archbishop of York in 1730 by John Aislabie, the creator of the 18th-century water gardens.
Ignore the ford and take the footbridge river crossing to your left. Turn right at the end of the footbridge and follow a clear track uphill to emerge from the woodland through a gate at the top. Continue to follow the clear track ahead, with a hedge on the left. Take in the glorious views to your right over Ripon and in the distance the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, Sutton Bank and the White Horse.
Ripon Cathedral is situated in the heart of Ripon. It's the fourth church to have stood on the site, which was originally the site of a monastery. In the distance the Hambleton Hills stand out and beyond them, the North Yorkshire Moors.
Pass the medieval Plumpton Hall farmhouse on your left and continue until you reach the Studley Royal driveway. Walk up the driveway, through the impressive East gateway and lodges, towards St Mary's church spire ahead of you. Just before you reach the church, turn round and take in the magnificent view down the tree lined driveway to Ripon Cathedral and the North Yorkshire Moors beyond.
The deer park is home to 500 wild deer. Three breeds of deer live in the deer park: red, fallow and Sika.
From the church, turn left off the driveway and take the grass path downhill, past a rustic seat, to the lakeside car park. Continue downhill to the lake itself, the Victorian tea rooms and the impressive lakeside gateway to the formal water gardens and Fountains Abbey.
The church of St Mary was commissioned in 1870 by the first Marquess and Marchioness of Ripon to become the new parish church for Aldfield and Studley.
Go through the gate and take the first left turn, which takes you over the canal by the cascade waterfall. Follow the clear path, passing the Moon pond and the Temple of Piety. Continue along the path, turning left at the next junction to pass the half moon pond and along the left bank of the river Skell. Revel in the views of the Abbey ruins ahead.
Continue along the path to eventually reach the Abbey. Take time to explore the ruins and then return to the Visitor Centre via the clearly waymarked path uphill from the Abbey.
End: Fountains Abbey Visitor Centre, grid ref: SE272687
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Moderate
- Distance: 5 miles (8km)
- Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- OS Map: Explorer 299 Ripon and Boroughbridge
The terrain is fairly easy walking, although there are a few moderate hills. Strong shoes or boots are recommended as the ground can be muddy and slippery in some places.
- How to get here:
By foot: 4 miles from Ripon via public footpaths and bridleways
By bicycle: Signed on-road cycle loop
By bus: Harrogate District Community Transport (Ripon Roweller 139) Ripon - Markington (connections with Harrogate and District 36 from Harrogate). Call Traveline for details 0871 200 22 33
By train: Harrogate 12 miles
By car: 4 miles west of Ripon off B6265 to Pateley Bridge, signposted from A1, 12 miles north of Harrogate (A61)
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