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Visitors walking along the lime tree avenue in the Deer Park at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, Yorkshire
Visitors walking along the lime tree avenue in the Deer Park | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Fountains Abbey ancient trees walk

On this circular walk you'll learn a little more about the ancient trees in the Deer Park and gain insights into 18th-century landscaping.

Deer park

There are three types of deer in the park: sika, fallow and red. Please keep your distance so you don't disturb them and keep dogs on a short lead.

Total steps: 7

Total steps: 7

Start point

Fountains Abbey visitor centre, grid ref: SE272687

Step 1

Leave the visitor centre and follow signs towards St Mary's Church. Follow the signs for 'Footpath to St Mary's Church, Deer Park and Water Garden'.

Step 2

Follow the well-defined bridlepath that runs parallel to the main drive, until you reach the large gates on your right that give access to St Mary's Church and the Deer Park. Go through the pedestrian gate, and proceed down the roadway. The sweet chestnut (A) will be on your right. Opposite St Mary's Church (a William Burges masterpiece) the impressive sweet chestnut tree is a pre-18th-century pollard. Note the line of five limes opposite Choristers House. Continue down the roadway and notice Lime Avenue (B) framing the view to Ripon Cathedral.

Step 3

Further down the road, take the left turn at a small crossroads. Just before the brow of the hill note the old cherry tree (C) on your right. It was reputed to be the largest in Britain at one point but is now in decline. A little further on note the impressive pre-18th-century oak tree (D), also on your right. Pass the converted stable block on your left and look straight ahead to the oak avenue (E). Look beyond the gate to the estate and see the line of oaks continue north to Low Lindrick, originally part of the estate. Continue for about 55yd (50m) then take the grass track that veers off to the right.

Step 4

Before the beech tree look across to your left to the old sycamore pollards near the small, square pump house (F). Follow the path down a slight slope and cross the stone bridge at the bottom, known as 'Rough Bridge'. The track splits into two – take the right-hand path, going up a slight incline, and follow it as it bends to the left and continues between two lines of oak trees (G). Continue following the path as it dips. As it rises again look to your right at two Atlantic cedars (H): the result of 19th-century planting by Earl De Grey, owner of the estate from 1845 to 1859. The path bends sharply to the right, follow it to the right.

Step 5

Continue towards the lodges at East Gate and at the bottom of Lime Avenue (B) turn right, being careful of the traffic on the road. This is the original 18th-century entrance to the estate. Just before the car park sign turn left and walk across the park to enjoy a magnificent view of the lake. Leave the viewing point and head towards the tea-room on the far side of the lake.

Visitors sit outside the Victorian tea-room at Studley Royal Water, with trees in the background and water in the foreground
Stop by the Studley tea-room for some quick refreshments to take-away | © National Trust Images/John Millar

Step 6

Take the roadway up to the lower car park on your right. Cross the car park, heading for a grassy path at the rear, signposted 'St Mary's Church 500yds, Visitor Centre 1 mile'. The path rises and goes through trees, bending to the right.

Step 7

At the crest of the hill head for the old sweet chestnut (A); take a rest on the bench made from branches of the adjacent sweet chestnut. A little further the path splits into two, take the left hand path heading to the main gates of the deer park. Go through the pedestrian gate and turn sharp left to follow the footpath back to the visitor centre and main car park.

End point

Fountains Abbey visitor centre, grid ref: SE272687

Trail map

Map route for Fountains Abbey ancient trees walk
Map route for Fountains Abbey ancient trees walk | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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Get in touch

Fountains, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 3DY

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