A walk through the centuries at Fountains Abbey

Walking trail

You'll experience time travel as you walk through the Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Estate, exploring the significant stages in the estate's history from 1132 to 1987.

This is not a circular walk; to discover all the significant landscape additions you may need to double back on yourself a couple of times. The walk takes you around the grounds therefore you will need to pay admission or be a National Trust or English Heritage member.

Couple walking by the moon ponds in Studley Royal water garden


Map route for a walk through the centuries at Fountains Abbey


Fountains Abbey Visitor Centre, grid ref: SE272687


1132-1539 From the visitor centre walk along the path towards the Abbey. At the metal gate, take the left path and walk down onto the West Green of the Abbey. Spend time exploring the impressive remains of this large Abbey. Exit the Abbey west and follow the main drive, passing the Porter's Lodge interpretation centre on your right.

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1604 Continue along the main drive and you will see Fountains Hall, a Jacobean manor house. Fountains Hall was built by Stephen Proctor, partly using stone from the Abbey. When leaving Fountains Hall retrace your steps. Continue down the path, with the Abbey on your right.

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1718 At the first junction in the road, fork right to see aspects of John Aislabie's water garden. On your left is the canal, emerging from the rustic bridge and further, on the right, the half moon reservoir. Return to the junction and turn right.

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1740s Continue down the main path looking to your right to catch glimpses of the Temple of Piety. At the next junction take the left fork up the hill. At the top is the Banqueting House, where John Aislabie entertained his guests. Continue down the path and exit the gardens via the gate to the deer park.

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1740s Walk around the Lake until opposite the cascade. Enjoy the view across the Lake into the Water Garden. Walk across the footbridge and down the Valley of the Seven Bridges. Walk as far along the Valley as you like, before retracing your steps, cross over the footbridge again and when you reach the road turn right and then left, heading up the hill.

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1870 Approach St Mary's Church, commissioned by the Marquess and Marchioness of Ripon. The Church is open from April 1 to September 30.

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Once you have left the Church, turn right up through the gate and deer park boundary wall, and then turn left walking along the bridleway with the deer park wall on your left. Arrive at the visitor centre where you finish your walk. If you have enjoyed learning about the estate on this walk, there are guidebooks available in the shop.

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Fountains Abbey Visitor Centre, North Yorkshire


Fountains Abbey Visitor Centre, grid ref: SE272687

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A walk through the centuries at Fountains Abbey


This walk takes you along bridleways, footpaths, roadways and gravel tracks through this delightful estate. The terrain is fairly easy walking though there are a few moderate hills. Sensible shoes are recommended as the ground can be muddy in poor weather.

Dogs are welcome on short leads.

A walk through the centuries at Fountains Abbey

Contact us

A walk through the centuries at Fountains Abbey

How to get here

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

Nearest main railway station is Harrogate, 12 miles (19.3km) from Fountains Abbey.

By road

4 miles (6.4km) west of Ripon off B6265 to Pateley Bridge, signposted from A1, 12 miles (19.3km) north of Harrogate (A61).

By foot

4 miles (6.4km) rom 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.

A walk through the centuries 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