The Abbey ruins at Fountains are the largest monastic ruins in the country and a World Heritage site. In 1132, 13 monks came here to start a simpler life. 400 years later Henry VIII demanded the closure of the Abbey, leaving the ruins we see today.
Contrast the ruins with the surrounding woods and valleys, where John Aislabie in the 18th-Century turned them into the Georgian water gardens.
Explore further afield and discover hidden gems including Fountains Mill built in the 12th-century, a deer park, church and grand hall.
"We're visiting an Abbey?!?" "We're visiting an Abbey?!?" was the cry from the kids, fearing that it was going to be an afternoon shut inside a church.
It was glorious weather, and the last thing we all wanted was to be shut inside. Fortunately, Fountains Abbey is not like that at all. Instead, it's the perfect place for walks, picnics, and discoveries.
Arriving at the Visitor Centre
When you arrive at this World Heritage site, there's an impressive new visitor centre, but no signs of the abbey insight.
Pick-up one of the visitors maps from the ticket office as there's a lot to explore. You can also click here to download the map.
The Fountains Abbey Ruins
The Fountains Abbey ruins are very impressive and there's a lot to explore.
Just when you think you've discovered them all, there's another tunnel, corridor, or room.
The Studley Royal Water Garden
After exploring the abbey, take a stroll down the footpath that runs alongside the small river and you will eventually reach the Studley Royal Water Garden.
Here you'll find further things to find and discover, such as hidden temples and towers.
And there's more
Back towards the Visitor Centre, you'll find the play park. There are also areas for den building.
If your family has the legs for it, explore further afield to the Deer Park and try and find the old mill.
Last admission one hour before closing. *Closed Fridays November - January. **Closed 24 and 25 December. See signs at entrance or telephone for hall, mill, tea-rooms, Studley Royal shop and St Mary's Church opening times. Abbey tea-rooms open weekends in winter, St Mary's Church open April - September.
On The Map
off B6265 to Pateley Bridge, signed from A1, 12 miles north of Harrogate (A61)
AddressFountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden