The air was still as we explored the grounds, wandering through the ruins of the abbey that last operated centuries earlier.
It was easy to imagine how peaceful it must have been, as the monks went about their daily lives in this beautiful spot.
Fountains Abbey is a beautiful ruined Cistercian monastery, close to what is now the cathedral city of Ripon in North Yorkshire.
It’s part of Studley Royal Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring an 18th century water garden, along with other historic buildings. The abbey is the oldest building on the estate and was originally founded in 1132.
Owned by the National Trust, who manage the site in partnership with English Heritage, it’s one of North Yorkshire’s most popular tourist attractions.
The monastery has a fascinating history, but that’s nothing compared to the beauty of the ruins themselves.
Located in a stunning piece of countryside, the building and the surrounding park make brilliant use of the landscape, even integrating the nearby River Skell into the gardens.
We visited on a cold December afternoon, when there were few people around. Wandering through the ruins of the abbey, we had the place to ourselves for a time and everything was still and quiet, away from the hustle of the world.
Arguably the most impressive part of the structure is the vaulted cellarium, where the original monks used to store food. It’s an awe inspiring piece of architecture and I could have spent hours exploring happily with my camera.
Instead we strolled further along the river and into the gardens, which are perfectly landscaped and full of hidden lookouts and follies. It really is a special place and I can only imagine how awe inspiring the abbey was before it began to crumble so many years ago.