Jo’s Monday walk : Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal

The lovely ruins of Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

The lovely ruins of Fountains Abbey

Classic English beauty combines with a watery world for this week’s walk at Studley Royal, in Yorkshire.  I’ve been there several times and always been cursed with dismal weather.  The balmy Autumn that we’ve been experiencing was just perfect for this visit.  A Cistercian Abbey, water gardens and a deer park- irresistible?  I think so!  But don’t forget to take your purse.  Being a National Trust property, it doesn’t come cheap. (currently £10.50- no concessions, unless you are a National Trust member)

Some things don’t change.  The monks who came here in 1132 were pretty good at amassing money too.  Thirteen Benedictine monks left St. Mary’s Abbey in York to found a Cistercian Abbey in this valley.  It became one of the richest in Europe.  Something that has changed, since my last visit, is the approach to the park.  You used to be able to drive into the estate through the deer park, but traffic now is all routed via the Visitor Centre.  Pick up a map at reception, and let’s go.

It's not long before you catch your first sight of the Abbey

It’s not long before you catch your first sight of the Abbey

The ruins are extensive and Fountains Abbey Mill is the only 12th century Cistercian cornmill left in the UK.  It was in continuous use until 1927, and today houses an interactive exhibition and the water wheel, which can still grind corn.

If you’ve never been here before, you will almost certainly be impressed with what comes next. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, the Abbey buildings and over 500 acres of land were sold by the Crown.  The property was passed down through several generations until it was inherited by John Aislabie, in 1693.  He was a socially and politically ambitious man and became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1718, but his involvement in the South Sea Bubble financial scandal had him expelled from Parliament.  On his return to Yorkshire, he turned the wooded valley of the River Skell into one of England’s most spectacular Georgian water gardens.

A basin of water opens up before you

A basin of water opens up before you

The reflections in the lily pond are lovely

Reflections sparkle in the lily pond

With more sculptures

Yet more sculptures rough and tumble

A group of volunteer gardeners are raking pond weed from the canals- a pleasant enough occupation on such a sunny afternoon.  The curve of the Moon Pond stretches ahead, the pillars of the Temple of Piety a focal point on the far side.  Originally the Temple of Hercules, it is believed to have been renamed when John Aislabie’s son, William, commissioned a bas relief wall sculpture inside the temple, after his father’s death.

The Temple of Piety beyond the Moon Pond

The Temple of Piety, beyond the Moon Pond

You need to walk along the canal and cross over a narrow bridge to reach the Temple of Piety. From the bridge there’s a good view across the lake to the deer park.  I didn’t spot any deer at that distance, but was diverted by one of the park’s follies, the Octagon Tower.  A neo-Gothic castle, it looked to me very inviting, but sadly I couldn’t climb it.  Beneath it lies a Serpentine Tunnel, originally designed to give people a bit of a fright at garden parties.

The lake and deer park in the distance

The lake, with the deer park in the distance

The Octagon Tower, nestling in the trees

The Octagon Tower, nestling in the trees

I'm not sure what she was holding?

I’m not sure what she was holding?

It's a beautiful watery world

In her beautiful watery world

I couldn’t climb the tower, but I did find somewhere to look down onto the park.  A sign directing me to Anne Boleyn’s Seat and Surprise View could not be ignored.  I’ll spare you the climb because it was pretty steep, but I think you’d like the view.  You will have an advantage over Anne Boleyn, who never actually saw it.  That’s not because she didn’t have a head, but the name does come from a headless statue.

Back on the path, you can return along the opposite side of the canal, steadily approaching the Abbey.  There you will have a number of diversions.  You can visit the Mill or the tea rooms, and Fountains Hall is a stately exhibition space. (with holiday flats to let!)  Any children with you will love the interpretation centre at the Porter’s Lodge. (I did too!)  And if you have time and energy to spare, there’s the Gothic extravagance of St. Mary’s Church and a stroll round the deer park.

Don’t take my word for all this.  The National Trust website will tell you the whole story and provide instructions on how to get there.  I think that you would enjoy this World Heritage Site.  I know I did.  And now it really must be time to put the kettle on, don’t you think?

walking logo

Click on the logo to visit my Jo’s Monday walk page for details on how to join in.  As always we have a wonderful variety of walks to share.

How about a sample of Finnish nature with Vasilis?  I hope you’ve met before?  And the lingonberry tart looks so good! :

Finnish nature

Yvette’s taking street portraits and searching for a missing lady. Please share this one :

Street photos from Charlottesville, VA

Join Drake, very thoughtfully making war on waste  :

Escape from the Cityscape

Making people happy in Jerusalem- that’s Cardinal this week  :

Street Portrait : The Photographer

Amy has been having some more fun with her bird friends  :

Yoga on Water

And Jude has the most delicious selection of Michaelmas Daisies you ever saw!  :

Celebrating Saint Michael

Welcome a Blogspotter please!  Violet Sky has a very fun post to add to the collection.  Do go and say ‘hello’.  :

Lost and found

Pauline is in transit again, but has been kind enough to share a trip ‘over the border’ to New South Wales.  Safe travels, Pauline and Jack!  :

Lingering look at Heritage windows

That’s it for this week.  It just remains to wish you all ‘happy walking!’




    1. My eyesight has been called into question already, Paula. The conclusion is I need a white stick as well as a new brain. 🙂 🙂 I’ll try to find time for my lesson after tea/supper. 🙂

  1. Hey Jo – enjoyed your lovely walk – and I felt such a balance of the greens with sculpture/architecture – and glad you did not get rained out (which I see from some of the comments that rainy days are common there) and well, that blue sky makes the lake and canal just that much nicer – peace – and thanks for this walk today! ❤

  2. Seems we were of similar minds this week Jo:
    though yours is more impressive! I don’t believe that I have visited Fountains, at least not since childhood! A visit to Yorkshire is definitely a ‘must do’. No wifi all week in Dorset, so I have a LOT of catching up to do this weekend, but I thought I’d make a start with you 🙂

    1. Thank you very much! 🙂 Was your weather kind? It makes a nice change to be without WP for a bit doesn’t it? Till it comes to catch up! 🙂
      Just off to cook tea so will read yours shortly.

      1. Weather pretty decent – had a couple of rainy nights with thunder and lightning and yesterday was very windy. Lunch at the beach in a rainstorm was fun (we were indoors), and hit a couple of thunderstorms driving home today, but otherwise good.

  3. What a fabulous stroll that was Jo!! And the perfect weather too. Love those views and reflections. Seems to me that the sculpture pondering the broken thing in its hand is a ‘He’! 😉

    1. I’m worried now about what he’s broken! Pauline came to the same conclusion! Did I ever mention that I’m not very observant? 🙂 🙂
      Welcome back, Madhu! Did you have a fantastic time? Funny, I thought just this morning- I wonder when Madhu’s back? I bet it went quickly for you!

      1. It is a statue of Galen and HE (yes it is a he – look at your first image) is probably holding arteries in his hands as his most important discovery was that arteries carry blood although he did not discover circulation.

  4. I have never been to England, but this is exactly how imagine English countryside to be.
    Your beautiful photos reminded me of a movie I saw many years ago: “Sense and sensibility” with Emma Thompson. The scenery in the movie looked almost the same as the landscape in your post.
    Thank you Jo for taking us to this wonderful place. Big thanks also for featuring my walk in the Finnish nature. It is very kind of you. Looking forward to your next Monday’s walk.

    1. You’re very welcome, Vasilis. 🙂 It’s fascinating to amass posts from around the world and see the differences in where people ‘walk’. I’d love a Greek one from you.
      Yes, Studley Royal is most definitely Jane Austen territory. She lived not too far away from there.
      Thanks a lot for your comment.

  5. Wow, Jo, what a wonderful walk for an autumn day. I was confused for a bit as I visited a Fountains Abbey, but I didn’t go to Yorkshire. This was down in the Cotswolds. So I guess there must be two or more?? I know I would have enjoyed this walk with you! Your photos of the ruins, the blue sky with its dramatic white clouds, and the ponds, are wonderfully enticing. 🙂

    1. I can just imagine striding around that park with you, snapping away, Cathy! That would be such fun. 🙂 I don’t know the other but I’m not very familiar with the Cotswolds. Happy days!

      1. It’s so weird, I wish I could remember where that Fountains Abbey was. I wonder if it’s the same, because that castle sounds familiar too. And some of your photos look familiar but I don’t remember the ponds. I don’t know how it could be the same though, because I didn’t think we were in Yorkshire. Sadly my trip to England was before my blogging days; I’d have to be home looking at my photo album to figure out where it was. 🙂

      1. I don’t think so, Jude. I really do think it was Fountains Abbey. How I wish I had blogged back then so I could have the facts before me! My photo album is in Virginia, so I can’t look at it now, sadly. 🙂

  6. Lovely Jo I vaguely remember Fountains Abbey from a school trip when I was knee high to a grasshopper (about 60+ years ago) so it was lovely to see it in your photos. BTW I think that lady sculpture may be a man!!!??? He/she appears to have a lower appendage. 😉

    1. Oh, dear me, you have me worried now, Pauline. I dare not look too closely. A sculpture values their privacy, you know 🙂 Are you home again? Back to the trusted and familiar. It was a good jaunt, wasn’t it? 🙂

      1. We were briefly home for a whirlwind 5 days then hopped on the Greyhound bus for a 7 hour trip south to Nambucca on the NSW coast for a 12 day house sit…

        Will be blogging about it soon, when I find the time. Already have 100’s of photos!!!!!

  7. Fabulous photos, Jo. The reflections are so beautiful. That sculpture look as though it’s holding something which has been broken in two. Now I really want to know what it is. 😕 The Octagon Tower looks so beautiful through the trees. 🙂

  8. I love Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Jo so was very excited to see this week’s post:) I’ve been there many times and it is always a lovely day out. The view of the Abbey as you come round the bend from Studley Royal is stunning. My dad is a National Trust member so we can get a discount when we go with him. After your walk, both the Fountains restaurant at the top near the car park or the cafe and tea rooms at Studley provide good refreshments. The Mill is well worth a visit – the history is fascinating! Also love Fountains Hall too. I hope to do my weekly blog post on a walk round the Perth coast and will put the link on your comments for inclusion in your Weekly Walks if you like it! Thanks for another lovely post and reminding me of Yorkshire again 🙂

    1. Perth coast sounds good to me, Rosemay. 🙂 We have been in the restaurant before but didn’t on this occasion (penny pinching 🙂 ) Glad you enjoyed our visit. More Yorkshire to come 🙂

  9. Well Jo, I can definitely see why Stourhead reminded you of Studley Royal. What a beautiful place to visit (but as with Stourhead, expensive without National Trust membership…) and I just love the photo of the Fountains Abbey ruins. Interesting about Anne Boleyn too 😉 Glad you got your walk despite the rain for this lovely post. We had a huge storm overnight Sunday into Monday bringing my poor rose down…will post about it later today so you’ll see the pics. The sun came out later on though which is just as well…nothing like a couple of hours of sorting out storm damage into the late evening 😉

    1. Hi Sherri! Sorry I couldn’t stop to chat yesterday. Just posting up this week’s walks on Facebook at the moment. Yesterday was a total write off here but I did some catching up. 🙂 Beautiful this morning so I’m hoping to go out to play soon. 🙂 Take good care of yourself. I always appreciate your company and time.

  10. I would love to spend time here – the water, and the lily pond make it feel so peaceful here. The statues and buildings fit very well here. Love the ceiling:) Thanks for taking us with you!

  11. It reminds me a little of the area beyond the Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C. – a walk we took when our kids were 4 and just 7. There are follies scattered through the trees and lawns, and water…and lots of bugs in early September!

    It also reminds me of the gardens and grounds at Yaddo, in Saratoga Springs, NY. That’s very close to us, and I think I’ll take the (now much bigger) kids there next spring – or maybe even next week, if the weather is decent.

    Lovely, lovely, lovely. I delighted in it all!

    I’m linking up my very first walk here – an apple orchard, two kids, and their mom on a softly lovely October day in upstate New York…

    1. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm, Shan. 🙂 It’s been a pleasure doing the walks and with this kind I get to pick up a little bit of history along the way. I’m glad you like it. Many thanks for joining in. 🙂

      1. I love that kind of walk. =)

        In a little while, the kids and I are heading of to the New York State Museum, so I my have some great pictures for the next walk…I’d love to post one every week, and eventually may, but with NaoWriMo coming up, it’ll be a few weeks before I can do them more often then monthly or so…

        I can enjoy yours in the meantime, though!

  12. Everything is so green. I particularly like the octagon tower, the grappling statue and Anne Boleyn’s seat. But at last I’m re-reconciled to my own landscape and don’t feel castle-envy any more. Must be time to disrupt again and head back to your hemisphere.

    1. Not long, I believe, Meg 🙂 December your return to Poland? Christmas with the little ones. I SO don’t want to think Christmas just yet.
      It’ll be a lot greener soon. It poured all day today but it is a lovely venue.

  13. What a beautiful spot and ideal place for a long walk. I was interested to read that the Abbey became one of the richest in Europe. I tend to thingk of monasteries etc as austere places forgetting that was very often not the case. Lovely images. 😉

  14. What a gorgeous estate and water garden, Jo. Your photos are breathtaking. I’m so glad that this visit you enjoyed such spectacular weather. The views across the lily pond into the deer park are absolutely stunning. I would want to sit and just stare in peaceful contemplation! 🙂

    1. It felt like a gift having such a lovely day, Debbie. 🙂 Thank you so much! I expect you could do with a little moisture. I’m sorry to say that it’s pouring here. 🙂

  15. I continue to be amazed at the astounding number of castles, walls and ruins plus gardens or natural settings you and Jude take me to.

    Was just thinking last week about Dad and Uncles during hunting season when we were kids eating pheasant, squirrel, rabbit and venison. Long time ago …

  16. Hi Jo,
    Thanks for sharing. Makes my travlling feet itch. Saved this posting to my computer for further reference when I’ll be up there next. May take a while, but the region surely is on my bucket list.
    Have a great week,

      1. Well, I’d be happy, happier, happiest if it was bouncing with rain here. Not only today, but for days on end. After seven years of sometimes extreme drought, we’re in dire need of rain.

  17. Absolutely beautiful – I think I visited Fountains about a hundred years ago when I was a Leeds Uni – and it’s appeared in a lot of films I believe. Stunning – and the photos really capture your visit 🙂

  18. ma che splendido reportage, mia cara! quante magnifiche cose mi sto perdendo…:-( il mio tempo per ora mi concede pochi spazi per il blog…mi spiace tantissimo, un forte abbraccio

    1. Annalisa! I was thinking of you yesterday and meant to visit you, but events ‘overtook me’! They always seem to 🙂 Back to British weather today- it’s pouring! Big hugs, cara. I will visit soon, I promise.

  19. I visited Fountains about 40 years ago, (free) and despite the torrential rain and gale, found it a gorgeous place to be: restful and full of intimations of the life of the monks. I did a painting of it from a photograph, but it got lost in one of our many moves.
    I love your Monday walk pictures.

    1. Oh, what a shame about your painting! I’d have loved to see it, Viv, but there’s only so much you can tote, isn’t there? We took Mick’s Mum one year and it was dreadful! She was elderly and not very surefooted and James was small. Nightmare!
      Thank you! Wet, wet, wet here. Have a good week 🙂

  20. Fountains is beautiful isn’t it Jo? Always one of my fave spots. And the lovely temple reminds me of another one, can’t remember where though, on a hillside with a curving grassy walk… That’s really helpful isn’t it? 😀

    1. It always reminds me of Stourhead but I bet that’s not the one? 🙂 Just so nice to see it in sunshine. P-ing down here today 🙂 First in a while so not complaining (but not walking either). I’m a Monday cheat!

      1. No not Stourhead. I’m thinking it’s Rievaulx Terrace, very similar which is why it jogged my memory. Walk through the woods, uphill, emerge onto terrace with temples at either end and views down through to rievaulx.

  21. What a lovely walk, and what great weather, Jo! I have only been to Fountains three times – dull twice, raining last time! I WANT to see it in the sun!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s