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A family explores the Studley Royal Water Garden in the summer time
Don't stop at the abbey - carry on your adventure in the World Heritage Site water gardens. It was a Georgian playground after all! | © Chris Lacey

A walk through the centuries at Fountains Abbey

You'll experience time travel as you walk through the Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Estate, exploring the abbey, water features and the formal and picturesque garden designs that mark significant stages in the estate's history over eight centuries from 1132 to 1987.

Your walking route

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 so you'll need to pay admission or be a National Trust or English Heritage member.

Total steps: 7

Total steps: 7

Start point

Fountains Abbey visitor centre, Fountains Lane, Fountains, Ripon, North Yorkshire HG4 3DY. Grid ref: SE272687.

Step 1

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.

Step 2

1604: continue along the main drive and you will see Fountains Hall, a Jacobean manor house. When leaving Fountains Hall retrace your steps. Continue down the path, with the Abbey on your right.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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.

Step 6

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

Step 7

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. You'll come to the visitor centre, built in 1987, where you finish your walk.

End point

Fountains Abbey visitor centre, Fountains Lane, Fountains, Ripon, North Yorkshire HG4 3DY. Grid ref: SE272687

Trail map

Map route for a walk through the centuries at Fountains Abbey
Map route for a walk through the centuries at Fountains Abbey | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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Get in touch

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