Fun for families at Fountains Abbey

three children play in the autumn leaves next to the abbey ruins

There's acres of space where little legs can explore and imaginations can run riot here. You’ll be full of beans but out of puff once you’ve found a cave by the abbey, a dark winding tunnel, spotted a special winter bird.

Be a water garden explorer

The water garden is full of straight lines and symmetrical curves but there are many corners to discover, too! Climb up to the Banqueting House and dress up like a Georgian, see which wildflowers you can see growing on the lawn and can you spot Octagon Tower in the distance?

Explore woodland on the High Ride path - but you'll need to walk through the dark Serpentine Tunnel to get there! Once you're up, you're up and there are three follies to find. One has an underground kitchen, one is made out wood and one has a wide view down to the abbey. See if you can find them all.

Walk through the dark Serpentine Tunnel to get to the High Ride path
Family going into Serpentine Tunnel in Studley Royal water garden
Walk through the dark Serpentine Tunnel to get to the High Ride path

Be an abbey adventurer

Don your adventure cap and set out to discover all the hidden corners of the abbey. See if you can find the last of the white marble and all the ruined alters in the nave. Can you hear an echo in the cellarium and how many staircases can you find throughout the ruins?

Run wild in the play area

Less than two minutes from the visitor centre there's a huge play area where inquisitive little minds can be let loose to play. Climb high on the wooden abbey, speed along on the zip-wire and spin round and round on the roundabout. Parents can keep an eye out from picnic tables dotted around, or come and join in with building a den.

Not just for the big kids

The play area is a great place to spend the morning. With flat pram friendly access from the visitor centre you can keep a close eye on the little ones as they play. Spin them on the roundabout, swing them high and let them make some music with the wind-chimes. 

Make twinkly music with the chimes
A toddler playing on the chimes in the play area at Fountains Abbey
Make twinkly music with the chimes

It's a monk's life at Swanley Grange

Could you make your own clothes? That's what the monks had to do to make their robes, as they couldn't just pop to the shops. It took a long time to make something to wear as they had to spin the wool from the sheep's fleece and then weave it on a loom! Come to Swanley Grange and have a go at these heritage crafts. Don't worry though, we're not expecting you to make yourself a new jumper to wear - it's just for fun.

While you're there don't forget to say 'hi' to the chickens and see what's growing in the medieval garden.

There are eight chickens who live at Swanley Grange.
The chickens at Swanley Grange
There are eight chickens who live at Swanley Grange.

Nature is all around

It buzzes and bustles, rustles and creeps; come and find nature all around you on your visit. See if you can see a new animal, bug and bird. Summer is a great time to spot a newly born fawn or calf* in the deer park, a dipper on the river or if you're really lucky a stoat or an otter.

*did you know that the name of deer young varies according to which variety it is? We have three types of deer in the park and the young of a fallow deer is called a fawn but the young of the red or sika deer is called a calf.

Wildflowers are blooming in the undergrowth. Which ones can you can find and how do they smell? Remember, they like being left where they are to keep growing big and beautiful.

Snack stops

There are also two tea-rooms at each end of the site, Studley Royal tea-room and Mill Café, for you to take a snack stop. Tuck into some home-made scrumptious cake, local ice-cream or some juice to refresh and revive for the journey back.


If little legs get a bit tired from all the exploring, there's a free minibus service that runs between the visitor centre, Studley Royal admission point and West Gate admission point. It will also stop at St Mary's church if you want to have a look in this extravagant Victorian church.

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