Boots, gaiters and vistas walk at Fountains Abbey

Walking trail

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.


Map route for boots, gaiters and vistas walk at Fountains Abbey


Fountains Abbey 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 437yd (400m), turning left at a gate by a bridleway sign.

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A winter view of Fountains Hall, built between 1598 and 1611 with stones from the ruins of Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire


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.

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A view towards the east end of the Abbey church showing the great East window arch at Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire


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.

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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 York Moors, Sutton Bank and the White Horse.

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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.

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 Red deer at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire


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.

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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.


Fountains Abbey Visitor Centre, grid ref: SE272687

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Boots, gaiters and vistas walk at Fountains Abbey


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.

We welcome responsible dog owners. Please keep dogs on a short lead and 'scoop their poop'.

Boots, gaiters and vistas walk at Fountains Abbey

Contact us

Boots, gaiters and vistas walk at Fountains Abbey

How to get here

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, Ripon, HG4 3DY
By train

Harrogate 12 miles (19.3km)

By road

4 miles (6.5km) west of Ripon off B6265 to Pateley Bridge, signposted from A1, 12 miles (19.3km) north of Harrogate (A61).

By foot

4 miles (6.5km) from Ripon via public footpaths and bridleways.

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 bicycle

Signed on-road cycle loop.

Boots, gaiters and vistas walk at Fountains Abbey

Facilities and access

  • Responsible dog owners welcome, please keep dogs on a short lead
  • Restaurant, tea-room, shop, plant centre and parking at Fountains Abbey
  • Please note that admission charges to the abbey and garden apply for this walk