Fountains Abbey may be just three miles from Ripon but this World Heritage Site feels a world away. The abbey looms high above the modest river that trickles in front of it, and thanks to its position within a peaceful valley it’s not only beautiful but also one of the most relaxing places to spend time that you’ll ever come across. Reviewer after reviewer comments on the striking sight of the abbey (not to mention the field day it presents for keen photographers) and it’s one of the National Trust’s most loved sites.
There aren’t many days out that cover 900 years of history but the abbey’s grounds and gardens include the 12th century abbey itself, the medieval deer park, a church that dates back to the Victorian era, a Jacobean hall and an 18th century water garden. The abbey may be breathtaking (even after all these centuries) but it started out as a project by monks keen to seek a simpler life, and the ruins we see today tell us all sorts about the lifestyles of the medieval devout.
The grounds that surround the abbey were later redesigned into elegant water gardens, and they remain dotted by follies, ponds and statues. Follow the bright green lawns that lead the way down to the river and roam the paths between ancient trees, there’s a relaxed feel to the abbey and its grounds that’ll have you reluctant to leave.