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Two visitors walk down a long avenue lined with lime trees in leaf, with a pointed church spire behind them
The Lime Avenue and St Mary's Church, in the deer park at Studley Royal | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Ripon to Fountains Abbey walk

A rewarding way to arrive at Fountains Abbey on foot, via rural paths from Ripon and the stately lime avenue through Studley Royal Deer Park. After taking in views of the water garden and Ripon Cathedral, the return stretch of this circular walk takes you through the Seven Bridges Valley.

Total steps: 11

Total steps: 11

Start point

Ripon Market Place, grid ref: SE313713

Step 1

Leave Ripon bus station/the Cathedral car park, heading west towards Queen Street, then bear left to Market Place. Cross the square diagonally to the south-west corner and bear left via pedestrian crossings, past the end of Westgate and down the hill along High Skellgate. Continue down to the traffic-light-controlled junction.

Step 2

Go straight on at the junction, across the pedestrian crossing into Low Skellgate, taking care on the narrow footpath. Go past the service garage on the right, bear right and follow Borrage Lane.

Step 3

Towards the end of Borrage Lane, take the footpath bearing left, crossing the River Skell by the footbridge. Turn right and follow the footpath at the side of the river, passing the junction with the River Laver, to climb concrete steps.

Step 4

Follow the path through scrubland, mostly keeping the river in view on your right. Emerge onto a road at Hell Wath Cottage. There are many paths here – keep to the right as far as possible. Turn right at the junction and immediately cross over the stile next to an information board. Cross over the River Skell via a footbridge. Follow this well-defined and hedged path, passing a large house on the left to a junction of a similar path at right angles to it.

Step 5

At the junction of the paths, turn left and continue to the village of Studley Roger, crossing the main street to follow the footpath opposite for Studley Royal. Pass into the deer park and follow the grass path ahead to join the main vehicle drive in the park. On a clear day, you'll see St Mary's church ahead. Turning around, you'll see Ripon Cathedral in the distance.

A drive running through an avenue of trees in full leaf in Studley Royal Deer Park, looking down to the sunlit Ripon Cathedral in the distance
Turn around to take in the views of Ripon Cathedral | © National Trust/Jenni Shepherd

Step 6

Follow the drive up towards a junction and turn left towards Studley Lake. At this point you can divert to visit the abbey ruins, water garden and lakeside tea-room. To continue your walk, as the drive bends right take the track on your left, crossing the footbridge with the lake on your right.

Step 7

After crossing the footbridge, follow the well-defined footpath ahead, down the Valley of the Seven Bridges and the course of the River Skell. The river can disappear into swallow holes in the limestone rock during dry weather.

Two walkers with dogs on a grassy area next to a stone bridge, crossing a broad, shallow river
On the Seven Bridges Valley walk at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Step 8

After you've crossed five bridges (there were originally seven), exit the land in our care via a metal gate, following the track beside the river.

Step 9

At the track junction, bear left and continue up the hill to open views over Ripon and past Plumpton Hall farmhouse, returning to Studley Roger village, passing the entrance to the estate on your left. In the village, turn right to retrace your earlier steps along the footpath to Ripon.

Step 10

At the cross-paths, continue straight ahead to reach the B6265. Take care crossing the road. Turn right towards Ripon, crossing the River Laver. At the mini roundabout continue straight ahead, passing cricket and rugby grounds on the right, to the junction with Clotherholme Road.

Step 11

Continue past the Ripon Spa Hotel and Gardens on your right, crossing the end of Blossomgate via the pedestrian crossing. Take Westgate straight ahead to return to the Market Place and your starting point.

End point

Ripon Market Place, grid ref: SE313713

Trail map

Ordnance Survey map of the Ripon to Fountains Abbey walk
Map of the Ripon to Fountains Abbey 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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We’ve partnered with Cotswold Outdoor to help everyone make the most of their time outdoors in the places we care for.

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