Fountains Abbey National Trust Review

Are you looking for an exciting, family-friendly destination to explore? Fountains Abbey National Trust is the perfect spot! With a range of activities for families to enjoy, Fountains Abbey offers a unique combination of history, natural beauty, and outdoor adventures.

Fountains Abbey is a National Trust property located in North Yorkshire, England. The National Trust manages this historic site and features a Cistercian abbey, a water garden, and a deer park, all set within beautiful countryside.

This article will review Fountains Abbey National Trust for families, including the abbey’s history, things to do, family activities, facilities, and additional tips and recommendations.

History of Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey has a rich history dating to its establishment in 1132 by 13 Benedictine monks. The monks wanted to live a simple and devout lifestyle away from the world’s distractions. Over the centuries, the abbey grew and flourished, becoming one of England’s wealthiest and most important monasteries.  

However, the abbey’s good fortune came to an abrupt end in 1539 during the reign of King Henry VIII when he ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Fountains Abbey was forced to disband, and its lands were sold to Sir Richard Gresham, a wealthy merchant. The once-thriving abbey slowly fell into disrepair, and by the 18th century, it was nothing more than ruins.

Despite its decline, In the 18th century, a new chapter began for the abbey when the picturesque landscape was incorporated into the Studley Royal Water Garden. Today, Fountains Abbey is a stunning testament to centuries of human endeavour. Its rich history, exquisite architecture, and picturesque surroundings continue to draw visitors from around the world, eager to explore its ruins and bask in the beauty of its surroundings.

What is there to do?

When you visit Fountains Abbey National Trust, there is much to explore and enjoy. Whether you are a history buff or a nature lover, there is something for everyone. Here are some of the top things to do when visiting Fountains Abbey.

Exploring the abbey ruins:

As you approach Fountains Abbey, you’ll immediately be struck by the majesty of the ruins. The abbey was once one of the country’s most influential and wealthy institutions. It is today possible to explore the impressive ruins, including the towering church, cloister, and chapter house. 

You’ll be able to explore the towering ruins of the church, and the chapter house, taking in the intricate stonework and imagining what life was like for the monks who lived and worked here so many centuries ago.

Strolling through the water garden:

As you walk through the water garden at Fountains Abbey, a true delight awaits you. You’ll be surrounded by interconnected pools, cascades, and canals that will take your breath away.

Take your time and enjoy the peaceful surroundings, beautifully landscaped gardens, and charming ponds, statues, and follies. 

Deer park:

One of the highlights of Studley Royal Park is the deer park. Deer Park is a really great place for you to take a quiet walk, surrounded by nature. You’ll have a chance to see some beautiful deer who are free to roam around. Plus, you can also enjoy the amazing views of the countryside all around you. It’s a perfect spot to relax and take in the beauty of the outdoors

Spot wildlife:

Lyme Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including red and fallow deer. Set off on a wildlife walk with your family to catch a glimpse of these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.

Walking trails:

Fountains Abbey is a paradise for walkers. The area is surrounded by breathtaking countryside and plenty of trails to explore. You can choose from leisurely strolls to more challenging hikes depending on your preference.

Family Activities at Fountains Abbey:

You’re in for a treat if you’re visiting Fountains Abbey with your family. There are plenty of activities and attractions to keep little ones entertained, including:

Children’s Trail:

Fountains Abbey has a special children’s trail that is perfect for families with young children. The trail leads children on a journey of discovery through the ruins, gardens, and parkland, with plenty of fun facts and activities along the way. It’s a great way to keep children engaged and entertained while also learning about the history of the site.

Adventure Play Area of Fountains Abbey:

Fountains Abbey also has an adventure play area. It’s a perfect choice if you’re looking for fun family activities that your kids will enjoy. The play area is situated near the main entrance, making it easily accessible for all ages. Even if it’s raining, you’ll be pleased to know that the equipment is designed to withstand wet conditions.

Your little ones will have a blast in the adventure play area. There are plenty of activities to spark their imagination and get them moving around. They can cross rope bridges, climb towers, slide down tube slides, and ride the zip-wire swing. Meanwhile, parents can relax on the seating provided.

Overall, the adventure play area at Fountains Abbey is an ideal spot for families with kids looking for a fun and engaging activity during their visit.


Fountains Abbey National Trust provides a range of facilities to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable visit for families:

Visitor Centre:

The Fountains Abbey Visitor Centre is the perfect starting point for any family visiting the site. Here, you can purchase tickets, pick up audio guides, and get information about the abbey and its history. The centre is equipped with interactive displays and videos, providing children with a fun and engaging way to learn about the site’s past.

Toilets and baby changing facilities:

The toilets and baby-changing facilities at Fountains Abbey are modern and clean. They are located near the Visitor Centre and the café, making them easily accessible during your visit. 

The baby-changing facilities are well-equipped with nappy bins and a changing mat, ensuring parents have everything they need to care for their little ones.


After a busy day exploring the abbey ruins, you and your family can relax at the Fountains Abbey café. The café at Fountains Abbey offers a range of hot and cold food and drinks, including sandwiches, soups, and cakes. The seating area is spacious and comfortable, with indoor and outdoor options available.

Picnic Areas:

For families who prefer to bring their food, there are several picnic areas located around the site. The areas are well-maintained, with plenty of seating and shaded spots available. The picnic areas are perfect for a quick bite or a relaxing family lunch.

Gift Shop:

At the Fountains Abbey gift shop, you will find a range of souvenirs, gifts and locally sourced products. Plenty of books are available, making it an excellent spot to pick up a souvenir or gift for someone back home.

Would you recommend it?

Absolutely! Fountains Abbey is an excellent destination for families, providing a mix of history, natural beauty, and outdoor activities. It is a fantastic place to explore, learn, and relax in a stunning setting, making it a highly recommended visit for all ages.

Additional tips & recommendations:

Duration of visit:

Plan your trip wisely, as there is much to see and explore. A typical visit can last anywhere from 3 to 4 hours, depending on the level of activity you wish to undertake. Allocate more time if you plan to participate in some family activities or explore the walking trails.


Fountains Abbey is committed to making the site accessible to all visitors. Most paths are accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs, although some areas may be more challenging due to the site’s historic nature. Wheelchairs and mobility scooters are available to rent, and there is accessible parking near the visitor centre.

Clothing and footwear:

The site consists of indoor and outdoor spaces, so it’s best to dress accordingly. Comfortable and sturdy footwear is recommended, as is clothing that suits the weather conditions.

Educational resources:

To enhance your visit, consider downloading the family activity pack from the National Trust website before you arrive. These resources offer additional information about the site and include fun activities and challenges for children.

Special events:

Fountains Abbey hosts various annual special events, including Easter egg hunts, outdoor theatre performances, and Christmas festivities. Check the National Trust website and consider planning your visit around these unique experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a cafe?:

Yes, there a number of cafes at Fountains Abbey that offers a range of hot and cold food and drinks.

The main cafe is near the visitor centre and offers both indoor and outdoor seating options available. There is a smaller cafe closer to the Abbey as well as a coffee cart serving all hot drinks and snack options.

What is your favourite part?:

It is hard to pick just one favourite part of Fountains Abbey because the whole experience is lovely. However, I particularly enjoyed walking through the water garden and seeing the follies. The water garden is a serene and peaceful place to relax and unwind, and the follies are interesting. The reflections in the water add to the magic of this area. Additionally, the gardens have many benches and picnic tables to take advantage of.

Is it suitable for Dog walkers?

Yes, Fountains Abbey is suitable for dog walkers, and dogs are welcome in the parkland and water gardens. However, dogs must always be kept on a short lead, and some areas may be restricted.

How much is it?

Admission prices for Fountains Abbey vary depending on age and membership status. As a member you can park and enter completely free of charge as part of your membership. For the most up-to-date pricing information, please visit the National Trust website.

Pros & Cons


  • Visually stunning Abbey
  • Lovely views and varying walks
  • Plenty of cafes.
  • Great play park.


  • Expensive for non-members

National Trust enjoyment rating

Last Updated on May 9, 2023 by Ryan

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