Sunday 18 February 2024

Fountains Abbey

We had a trip to Fountains Abbey yesterday. One of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in England, it's now run by the National Trust.

The first glimpse of the Abbey. We don't often visit National Trust properties as historically, dogs haven't been very welcome at the properties we've been interested in, but I think the National Trust have become more dog friendly in recent years. They now give their properties a pawprint rating according to the facilities available for dogs. Fountains Abbey has a three pawprint rating which shows it's amongst the best places you can visit with a dog. Dogs are allowed in all outdoor spaces throughout the grounds at Fountains Abbey, however, they must be kept on a short lead. They're also welcome in the visitor restaurant.

To reach the abbey there's a downhill walk from the main entrance. As you follow the meandering path you get tantalising glimpses of what's to come.

The verges are littered with snowdrops at the moment, and the odd pheasant too.

As you reach the bottom you're rewarded with the impressive sight of the Abbey.

Fountains Abbey was founded in 1132 and operated for 407 years until it closed in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries which was ordered by Henry VIII.

Set in the valley of the River Skell, the Abbey had access to water and was sheltered from the worst of the weather. Six springs watered the site which led to it being named Fountains.

Visitors are able to walk amongst the ruins, inside the walls as well as out. It gives a real insight to what the Abbey would have been like hundreds of years ago.

I never forget to look up. The tops of buildings are just as impressive as the bottoms, very often more so.

There aren't many places which are cordoned off but this grass would be a mud bath if everyone was allowed to walk on it. We've had so much rain just lately that the fields we passed in the car on our way had turned to lakes.

The Great Cloister. The monks observed silence here. 

You can see the vaulted ceiling.

A closer look. It's impressive to see it up close.

We were going to visit Fountains Abbey before Christmas when they had an after dark experience with the Abbey illuminated and choral music playing but we didn't get round to it. I can imagine it being a very atmospheric experience, perhaps we'll manage it this year.

Alongside the Abbey is Studley Royal Water Garden. We didn't visit on this occasion for two reasons, Archie can't walk too far these days and I'm suffering with my back again so longer walks are out of the question at the moment. We will return and visit Studley Royal in the future though. The Abbey itself is set in beautiful grounds though.

Although it was a rather dull day, there were plenty of visitors. It was still so tranquil though with the sound of running water as you walk through the grounds.

It's a photographers paradise too, so many photo opportunities.

I think this photo shows how extensive Fountains Abbey is, and this isn't all of it. There's enough here for a full day out and plenty of space for children to let off steam.

We're thinking of taking out a National Trust subscription. It's something we've considered in the past but now that dogs seem to be welcomed at more properties than they once were, I think it would be worth it. We do enjoy our days out.

On the way back to the car we passed Swanlea Grange. The grange once farmed the area to the west side of Studley Royal Water Gardens. Inside an old farm building is a display of wool which the National Trust staff have dyed using natural materials.

This explains it better than I can.

It was a lovely day out, though the walk back from the Abbey is rather steep so I'm now resting my back. We were so lucky with the weather, it stayed fine for our whole visit and only started to rain just as we reached the car. We shall definitely return and perhaps we'll be National Trust members by the time we do.


  1. What a stunning place. The Abbey is beautiful and very imposing and the grounds are lovely. It must look wonderful on a sunny day.

  2. You are correct it's a perfect place to capture great photo's, I do love a vaulted ceiling, and looking through windows long gone.

  3. I have wanted to visit Fountains Abbey for years but have never succeeded yet, it looks fabulous and I will get there one day, I think good weather is a must. I think becoming a National trust member is a good idea Jo especially when you take as many outings as you do, there are so many beautiful properties to visit. xx

  4. Beautiful grounds and so good that our heritage buildings are being looked after.. nice to see the snowdrops nestled in the grass, sounds like a good day out.

  5. Beautiful photos. I would imagine choral music there would sound so rich and full.

    Hope your back is feeling better soon so you can explore the rest of the grounds.

  6. Your architectural photos are very beautiful. And the pawprint rating is good to knw, thanks.

  7. I really enjoyed your post as I haven't been to Fountain's Abbey for several years and it is one of my favourite places. NT are much better with dogs now. I haven't taken Missy on any trips to their properties yet but that is because she isn't always happy in the car unless there is someone in the back with her. She is getting better and no longer moans about her seat harness!

  8. Have you been in the deer park which is through the far gate at the end of the water gardens. We visit quite often as we are NT members. Ruby has even been given free treats in some visits.

    1. We didn't walk that far, what with Archie wanting shorter walks and my bad back, it's one for another day.

  9. Sounds like a great day, although I'm sorry about your back.

  10. I did enjoy seeing all of your photographs, what a lovely trip to Fountains Abbey you had. It may well be worth your while to become National Trust members, there are so many great properties and locations to see.

    Sorry to read that your back is playing you up again, I do hope it gets better soon.

    Enjoy the week ahead.

    All the best Jan

  11. It's a wonderful place to visit, there's so much to see and the water just sets it off beautifully. We really enjoyed our visit a couple of years ago. You took some great photos, I love the tree through the window. You are probably spoilt for choice with NT properties where you are plus their cafés are really good too, handy on long journeys instead of service stations.

  12. It is many years since I was at Fountains Abbey so it is lovely to see your pictures. We have a free pass to an NT property that ends soon so I am hoping to go and see somewhere fairly local with a snowdrop walk. x

  13. A most enjoyable post and good pictures.
    It certainly looks like a worthwhile place to vist.
    I hope that your back gets better soon. Take care. xx

  14. We have not visited Fountains Abbey yet although we are NT members. G bought a lifetime membership many years ago for himself +1 which I became later on. We have more than had our moneys worth. Maybe you could try a years membership and see how that goes. The pawprint rating is a very good idea for anyone who has a dog.
    As a fellow back sufferer I hope yours is better very soon. Take care x

  15. How wonderful and great photos of this beautiful old abbey. You certainly had a lovely day out and thanks for sharing it.

  16. What a beautiful building, I can imagine the after dark experience, that sounds wonderful. Such a lovely day