What can you do at Studley Royal water garden?

Nestled within the Skell Valley near Ripon, this landscaped masterpiece designed by John and William Aislabie in the 18th century, was deemed so special that it was awarded World Heritage Site status in 1986.

Follow the gentle banks of the river skell down from the abbey to the garden, which has been channelled into canals, cascades and tranquil moon ponds. It was the monks who originally changed the course of the river up by the abbey and the Aislabies continued this work crafting the reservoirs and channels to create a scenic landscape garden. 

Autumn is a colourful time of year in Studley Royal water garden
Autumn is a colourful time of year in Studley Royal water garden
Autumn is a colourful time of year in Studley Royal water garden
" This is far from a natural landscape. Although the Aislabies worked with the landscape to create this water garden, it's a carefully crafted design. "
- Sarah France, World Heritage Site Coordinator and Conservation Manager

 

Into the garden...

Walk out onto a sprawling green lawn, decorated with statues dotted around tranquil moon ponds. Stroll around the ponds and down the canal to see the statues up close. Make the climb up to the High Ride path through the dark Serpentine Tunnel. There are more follies to explore and big views to be admired!

Admiring the view of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire.
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire.
Admiring the view of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire.

Don't worry - once you're up, you're up and it's worth the climb. Find three more follies along the winding woodland path and enjoy the views through the trees, ever changing with the seasons. Keep your eyes peeled for the spire of St. Mary's church in the deer park.

Whether it's decorated in wildflowers throughout spring, lush and green through summer, golden and colourful through autumn or dressed in snows and frost through winter, it's a joy to experience these gardens throughout the seasons and different every time.

The Magnolia tree is looking splendid at the Banqueting House
Magnolia tree at the Banqueting House
The Magnolia tree is looking splendid at the Banqueting House
" As you walk down the river do you notice the difference in the sounds? Listen closely and you'll hardly hear the water flowing beside you but occasionally you'll come across a weir and then you'll hear nothing but the crashing of water. Walk on and it will be peaceful again."
- Michael Ridsdale, Head of Landscape

Find a folly!

There are follies dotted throughout the water garden. These follies were used throughout the gardens were used for the Aislabies to show off the garden, have picnics and to entertain their guests.

Enjoying the winter views of the garden from the Temple of Fame
Girl enjoying the view from the Temple of Fame at Fountains Abbey
Enjoying the winter views of the garden from the Temple of Fame

Top 12 things to do in the garden*

  1. Venture into Serpentine tunnel

  2. Find Europe's biggest laurel bank

  3. Count all the follies

  4. Discover which folly is actually made of wood

  5. Find the faces of Malice, Hatred and Envy (then leave them behind you as you enter this folly)

  6. Dress up as Georgians at the Banqueting House

  7. Gasp at the vista from Surprise View

  8. Cross the narrow bridge at Studley Royal

  9. Marvel at the wildflower lawn

  10. Spy Neptune's statue

  11. Have a picnic on the lawn

  12. Take a tree rubbing

*some of these may be seasonal

Have fun by getting dressing up and getting into character
Children dress up in traditional costume and play in front of the Banqueting house at Studley Royal
Have fun by getting dressing up and getting into character