One of mottos for this year is to explore more. If that’s abroad on holiday or on my doorstep, it doesn’t matter. I am trying to be good with money but with so many nice walks in Yorkshire, there’s no need to spend loads to explore new places. On my birthday, I took the bus from Leeds to Ripon and spent the day exploring Fountains Abbey and the countryside around it.
You can easily spend the whole day just inside the Fountains Abbey and the Studley Royal Water Garden itself. Fountains Abbey is the largest monastic ruins in the country which is very impressive. I loved walking in the gardens getting closer and closer. There are plenty of view points to walk up to for incredible views of it. The garden is full of statues to admire, man made ponds, canals and cascades all channelled from the River Skell. I’d like to come back during summer and enjoy a picnic on the grass or perhaps in one of the follies dotted around the garden.
The Abbey and garden are part of National Trust so unless you’re a member you have to pay a fee to enter: £16. If you wish to pay the additional donation (£1.60) to the charity, a day pass for one person comes to £17.60. Honestly, with or without paying the donation, I think it’s quite steep for what you get but it was my birthday so I treated myself.
Fountains Abbey Opening Times
The Studley Royal Water Garden and Abbey are open more or less every day all year around, with some exceptions. In January 2020 it’s closed every Friday but open as normal all other days of the week. It opens at 10am and closes between 5pm to 6pm depending on day and time of the year. Note that admission closes one out before closing time. Double check National Trust’s website before you head there.
How to Get to Fountains Abbey
Fountains Abbey have plenty of parking space if you drive here. It’s free to park at the visitor’s centre. If you wish to use the Deer Park parking you have to pay a fee (cash) but it’s free if you’re a National Trust member.
If you go by public transport, like I did, there are buses which go from Ripon to the visitors centre. There is one bus which runs every Monday, Thursday and Saturday, three or so every day. I used it to get to the Abbey but I ended up walking the whole way back to Ripon as there wasn’t a bus for another two or so hours in the afternoon. It’s only a 5k long walk so it wasn’t too bad. A taxi would cost around £10 if you want to save your legs. Note that you’ll have to ring the local taxi company as Uber doesn’t operate here.
Fountains Abbey Walks
The walk I did before visiting the garden and Abbey can be done without entering the National Trust area. If you’re not keen to spend the money this is a great alternative, and you still get to see the Abbey from a far.
I took a route which led me past the West Gate entrance and through a gate on the left up to the Hill House Farm. Getting here you pass the Abbey on the left. Make sure to stop on the hill for gorgeous views. Past the farm and cows, the route continued through woods, passing the Mackershaw deer park where sadly I didn’t see any deers. At the end of the woodland path you reach River Skell. From here, cross the bridge and walk up a fairly steep hill. This is the strenuous part of the route but once up, you’re met by gorgeous views overlooking Ripon on the right.
Following the path you’ll pass Plumpton Hall and at the Studley Royal driveway, take a left and follow it all the way up to St. Mary’s church. If you continue straight here you’ll soon reach the visitors centre again. If you take a left at the church you’ll walk through the deer park and down to the lake. Here you’ll find the entrance to the Studley Royal Water Gardens and Fountains Abbey.
Have you been to Fountains Abbey? For more easy Yorkshire walks, check out this blog post.