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A Delightful Day Out.
Fountains Abbey (Ripon)
Member Name: daseaford
Fountains Abbey (Ripon)
Date: 18/03/02, updated on 18/03/02 (238 review reads)
Advantages: Lots of space., Great history., Very relaxing.
The remains of Fountains Abbey and its surrounding land and property have been combined with the Studley Royal Estate to make a wonderful property just west of Ripon in North Yorkshire.
Now owned by the National Trust, this 822 acre site attracts over a quarter of a million visitors each year. However, because of the huge size of the site it never seems crowded and the tranquil setting makes it a great place to relax and unwind.
The abbey was founded in 1132, following a dispute between the monks at St Mary’s Abbey in York, after which 13 monks were exiled and given the land on the banks of the River Skell. As you now walk around the magnificent ruins you can appreciate how the order grew and the wealth generated by the monks was put back into the wonderful buildings. There are free guided tours around the abbey and I would really recommend that you try to join one of these tours as the graphic descriptions of life for the monks by the tour guides make you appreciate the ruins so much more.
Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII in 1539 the buildings very quickly fell into disrepair as the lead and glass were stolen from the roof and windows for other local buildings. (Henry VIII encouraged the removal of lead from the roofs of monasteries.)
After leaving the ruins of the abbey there is still so much more to see on the estate. There are some very impressive water gardens that were built in the 18th century by the Aislabie family, including the moon pond with its flanking crescent basins. The walk from the abbey ruins to these ponds follow a picturesque canal with small cascades along its route. On a clear bright morning this is a lovely walk and a few slices of bread for the ducks and swans makes you very popular.
All around the water gardens are small buildings and follies that have been built over the past 800 years of the estates history and every building has its own characteristics, from t
he Splendid Temple of Piety to the hidden Serpentine Tunnel.
Beyond the water gardens is the massive expanse of the deer park. So much of this is often not seen by visitors as the area is so big. Over 500 deer graze in this area, made up of Red, Sika and Fallow deer. Some of the huge deer with massive antlers are a very impressive sight. The deer do not run and hide and it is possible to wander quite close to the animals, although you must remember that these are wild animals and should not be approached too closely.
Away from all this fresh air there is a visitor centre, two shops, two restaurants, and refreshment kiosks, so there is no need to go hungry or thirsty. There is also plenty of car parking space and excellent facilities for any disabled visitors.
Throughout the year the estate also runs a full programme of events and activities aimed at all age groups, with many different interests.
Entrance to the abbey and deer park is £4.50 (children £2.30) with free parking, or you can visit just the deer park where there is just a £2 car parking charge.
I can highly recommend a visit to Fountains Abbey and it is certainly worth putting aside a full day for your day out. My own preference would be to take a picnic and enjoy the open space of the deer park for lunch.
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