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Sunday, 24 May 2015
Yorkshire Week - Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden
Today is our last post to feature during #Yorkshireweek and is bought to you by Emma who blogs over at Canny Food - a fabulous food blog with a sprinkling of travel based here in the North East. Definitely worth checking out. Over to Emma:-
Jnr and I last visited Fountains Abbey a little over a year ago. In fact, it was the place I signed up for our National Trust membership. It seemed like great value for money, and I know we’ve had our money’s worth. I’d say some properties are better for facilities and things to do for kids than others, but once you’ve paid the yearly membership its best to visit as many as you can just to get out of the house on a weekend!
We were fortunate enough to have lovely weather on the day. It is located a few miles from the town centre of Ripon. Raf had never visited before, and he was in awe as we walked down to the abbey. He was impressed with the scale of the site, and that was before he’d even realised about the Gardens! But more on that later.
The Cistercian site, although in ruins, is still magnificent. It’s hard to believe the monks who lived here sought to live a simpler existence when the architecture was so ornate. It’s such a shame sites like this fell into decline because of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. We lounged on the grass for a while before embarking on a walk through the grounds. The weather meant lots of families had a similar idea, and I bemoaned my lack of preparation and not having my trusty picnic basket with me!
The last time we visited the weather was wet, so I don’t think we fully appreciated how spectacular Studley Water Garden is. The photo opportunities were endless, and Jnr ribbed me about stopping every few minutes to take snaps. The Abbey and the Gardens were brought together by the Aislabie family, who spent a great deal of time and money developing the land. The inclusion of the ruins into their design adds an eerie romanticism for me. I always try to imagine walking through in what would have been the clothing of the day: a heavy dress, corset and elaborate hoops and nets underneath. It must have been tiring for the ladies!
At present the follies of the Garden have been transformed with pieces of Art. Our particular favourite was in the Octagon Tower, which is pictured below.
Walking round is no small feat, although the beauty of the grounds certainly lessens the impact. Raf couldn’t believe how much there was to see, and he said it was the best National Trust site he has visited so far. I’m inclined to agree, although we haven’t exhausted all of our NE options yet! It is a World Heritage site, and it’s easy to see why. Everything has been preserved so well, and where restorations have occurred they’ve been sympathetic to what was there previously.
The watermill, which is located near the Abbey, is the only 12th Century Cistercian corn mill left in Britain. On the day we visited a volunteer showed Raf and Jnr how corn was ground, and afterwards they tried. It took a lot of elbow grease!
No post by Canny Food would be complete without a mention of cake, and after all the walking round we were in need of refreshments. I had a tasty scone and a pot of tea, Jnr had a toasted panini and Raf ordered ice cream in the Studley Tearoom. The damage was just over £12, which is well priced compared to other touristic places we’re visited. The queues were huge though, and we struggled to find a table. A picnic will be taken with us next time!
After 5 hours on site we still didn’t visit the deer park or Fountains Hall, which is a real shame. There are activities dotted round for all the family, like bird watching. I was surprised Jnr got involved, but he seemed to enjoy it. The play area is also great if you have smaller children, and the site is dog friendly. We really loved our trip, and we highly recommend it. A family ticket is £27.50, although I personally think a membership is a great idea if you have children.