Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens review and video

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens review and video

We’ve visited a fair few different national trust properties since we became members last Easter. We’ve loved each one we’ve visited. We have favourites that we return to regularly but when we visited Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens, recently it quickly became our new favourite. It is truly spectacular and not hard to see why it is a world heritage site. We stopped for a picnic and to stretch our legs on the way to Studfold campsite for the weekend. We only had a few hours to spare but as we were blown away by this place we decided to return on our way home and explore the other end of the property too.

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens

On our first visit, we arrived at fountains abbey at the same time as a thunderstorm but it did not take away from the stunning sight of the top of the abbey visible as you enter Fountains Abbey visitor centre courtyard. The visitor centre has been purposefully built to frame this spectacular view. We took shelter in the cafe and shop whilst the storm past over. Once it was just drizzling we set off down the hill to the Abbey ruins.

 

Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens

Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens

Fountains Abbey play area

Our first stop was the children’s play area. Obviously, it was quite wet but that didn’t stop my two adventurers who were soon climbing over abbey shaped climbing frames. There were some things suitable for little ones like bridges and places to hide under climbing frames. The ball track was a lovely area too where my girls liked working out where to start the ball off so it ended in the basket. For my 5 year old there are lots to climb and to be honest she surprised us both by how confident a climber she has become. This has to be one of our favourite national trust play areas. There is so much to entertain kids and because it is in a woodland area it slowly reveals all the equipment to you.

 

Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens

Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens

Swaley Grange

We eventually managed to tear the kids away from the play area and continued walking down the hill. The top of the Abbey was coming more in to view and but there are also other things to discover like medieval agriculture at Swaley Grange. There are lots for families to do at this former medieval monastic farm. The girls enjoyed the rocking sheep, colouring and adding wool to the weaving loom. We also explored a cute little medieval vegetable garden.

 

Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens

Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens

Fountains Abbey ruins

By this point, you are halfway down the valley and almost into the woodland. A short walk through the woods and the Abbey starts to come in to view and slowly its beauty is revealed. There is a small porters lodge that has been sensitively turned in to an information room, packed full of information on Fountains Abbey history. In the centre is a large model of what the Abbey would have looked like.

To the left is Fountains Abbey ruins and they are spectacular. Some areas still have stone ceilings but most areas do not. You really get a feeling for the grandeur and beauty that this impressive abbey would have had. Our 5 year old loved climbing staircases that lead to nowhere and walking through archways. This window was my favourite part. Can you imagine it full of glass?

 

Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens

 

We also wandered through the restored water mill and learnt more about it’s past. Then, unfortunately, we didn’t have time to explore further into the grounds and the water gardens. However, as we were camping near Fountains Abbey and the site had such an impression on us, we decided to return.

 

Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens

 

On our second visit, we planned to park in the Studley royal car park but our sat nav took us to the visitor centre car park again. It didn’t matter as the kids enjoyed some more time on the playground before walking past the abbey again. It’s about half a mile from the ruins to Studley Royal water gardens. It’s mostly flat too so a great walk for little legs.

 

Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens

Studley Royal Water Gardens

We explored the water gardens which are beautiful and currently have some large art installations there for a few more months. We did enjoy this end of the property but the Abbey was definitely our favourite bit so if you are short on time I’d recommend leaving the water gardens for another visit.

 

Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens Fountains Abbey And Studley Royal Water Gardens

 

Dotted around the Abbey are lots of lights and we wondered why. I discovered from reading the website later that there are a number of holiday rentals around the estate and if you stay there you get a key to the grounds and you can visit after dark. How amazing would it be to wander around these ruins in the dark and see Fountains Abbey floodlit? Definitely, one to add to the bucket list.

 

 

If you are ever anywhere near North Yorkshire I urge you to visit Fountains Abbey and make a day of exploring this stunning and historical site which is also fantastic for families. If you are looking for campsites near fountains abbey then I would recommend looking at Studfold.

Our top tips for visiting Fountains Abbey, Rippon

    • For up to date prices and Fountains Abbey opening times, as well as to check what extra events are on, visit the National Trust website.
    • Allow plenty of time to see the full site. The visitor centre had options for what to do if you have a couple of hours, half a day or a full day. Make the Abbey ruins a priority, no matter how short your visit.
    • Fountains Abbey walks are perfect for all the family. We had no problem with a pushchair in any of these areas we explored.
  • There are baby changing facilities in both the ladies and men’s toilets at the visitor centre.
  • Check the visitor centre or website for details of different family events, especially in the school holidays.

I’d definitely recommend fountains abbey as a family-friendly day out.

Other National Trust family days out you might enjoy:

Quarry bank mill

Hare Hill

Dunham Massey

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Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens

14 Comments

  1. August 30, 2018 / 9:15 pm

    What a lovely place, your pictures are lovely too

    • Claire
      Author
      September 5, 2018 / 9:26 pm

      Thank you. It is a fantastic place.

  2. September 1, 2018 / 9:25 am

    I love the look of the Abbey, it is a real piece of history and beautiful architecture. The play areas look perfect for kids and the weaving loom is beautiful. I rather fancy creating one of these here so I may just have that picture for Farmer Nick to look at for me. A visit at night would be wonderful with the lighting on, I wonder if they do anything special for Halloween? #CountryKids

    • Claire
      Author
      September 5, 2018 / 9:27 pm

      I bet they do. Most of the National Trust properties seem to do so. A loom would be a great addition to your farm.

  3. September 1, 2018 / 7:45 pm

    We love NT sites too, this looks lots of fun. My kids always enjoy the natural play parks, although they are getting a bit big for them now. Mich x

    • Claire
      Author
      September 5, 2018 / 9:28 pm

      It’s a lot of fun for kids. As are most of our local NT.

  4. September 2, 2018 / 4:04 pm

    This looks like a great place to visit for all the family. I love National trust properties; we have a yearly membership and use it all the time. #countrykids

    • Claire
      Author
      September 5, 2018 / 9:30 pm

      So do we. I’ve worked out we used our NT membership 14 times over the 6 weeks holidays!

  5. September 4, 2018 / 2:01 pm

    This isn’t a National Trust property I’ve come across before but it looks brilliant. I can see why it’s your favourite play area. We’ve have passes for a number of years now and get so much use out of them x #CountryKids

    • Claire
      Author
      September 5, 2018 / 9:31 pm

      14 times we used ours this summer! I think you are a lot further south than us. It’s well worth a visit if you are ever in North Yorkshire though.

  6. September 5, 2018 / 1:35 pm

    I didn’t realise there was so much to do at Fountains Abbey. Brilliant it was so engaging you returned a second day. That weaving loom is very emotive too as we did a similar thing at my best friend’s funeral. I’ll be adding Fountains Abbey to my to visit list! #CountryKids

    • Claire
      Author
      September 5, 2018 / 9:32 pm

      Neither did we before we visited. You really should add it to your list. I’m sorry to hear about your best friend x

  7. September 5, 2018 / 5:28 pm

    What a beautiful place to visit – I can see why it has become your new favourite. The woodland play area looks brilliant and I love the colourful loom at Swaley Grange. The ruins of the Abbey are beautiful and that window must have been stunning when it had stained glass in. The water gardens look beautiful too. Thank you for sharing with #CountryKids

    • Claire
      Author
      September 5, 2018 / 9:33 pm

      Thank you for visiting and commenting. It’s a stunning site and easy to see why it is a world heritage site.

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