Easter Sunday in North Yorkshire was beautiful and warm, and after we had our Easter lunch at the Guy Fawkes Arms, the bloke and I drove down the road to visit Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden. The attractions are a UNESCO World Heritage site and are set over a couple hundred acres of land. I am unsure if the photographs do the attraction justice as it's really a beautiful place, and it would look attractive in any season.
We arrived in the early afternoon, and the parking was nearly full and the grounds were busy with families with young children. The attraction was hosting an Easter Egg trail for the children, so this was popular but not quite as popular as the previous afternoon when we visited Brimham Rocks.
On our walk through the fields to Fountains Abbey, we saw a pheasant. Actually, these pheasants were everywhere on the grounds. We did watch a fight between two male pheasants later in the day.
We arrived with a view of the scale of Fountains Abbey, which was actually a lot larger than I expected. The abbey is one of the largest and best-preserved Cisterian monestaries in England. It ws founded in 1132 by thirteen months who had been expelled at St. Mary's Abbey in York after a disagreement, and they were provided with the land along the river at the present site of Fountains Abbey ruins. On this site, they successfully created the wealthiest monestary of its time.
The monestary became ruins after Henry VIII's Dissolution of Monestaries after his disagreements with the Pope over his seeking of a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon from Spain. Catholicism ended in England at that point, and Henry VIII got his divorce and married Anne Boleyn.
I hope that the photographs of the ruins of Fountains Abbey give some indication of the scale and grandeur of this monestary.
Cloisters courtyard (interior)
Frater house (original floor tiles)
View of tower and Chapter House
After having a quick look around Fountains Abbey, we walked out the other side to walk through the park/gardens. We wanted to visit St. Mary's Church, a church built in the late 1800s, before it shut at 4:00. A trail can be followed around the lake/river to the water gardens and deer park. The part of the trail that we followed went around the river/lake area in a clockwise fashion.
We saw views over the Studley Royal Water Gardens below us at one point on the trail, and the trail followed the main stretch of the water gardens to the end.
We had to exit the grounds to get to the deer park and St. Mary's Church. St. Mary's Church is located inside the deer park. We did not see any deer, and I assume that they must be hiding or sleeping further afield than we walked.
The church finally came into view, and we went inside and took some photographs. The organ was being played, and they were letting children have a turn at ringing the church bell. This is a gothic-style church from the late 1800s.
I loved the stained glass windows and the way that the light shone through them, and the ceiling was decorated beautifully as well too.
After leaving the church, we had to re-enter the grounds. Not far away from where we entered is a bridge to cross the lake that forms the water gardens. The wooden bridge is at the edge with a large lake on one side and the water gardens on the other.
On the bridge, looking down toward the water gardens
I walked around the Studley Royal Water Gardens. These were created in the 1700s and were styled after mainland Europe's stylish gardens. They would have used coloured gravel and hedges to enhance the garden. Currently, these grounds are undergoing some development with hedgerows being planted to mimic the heyday of the gardens as recorded in paintings.
Temples and statues make up the unique shaped water features.
I loved this place and could have stayed longer, particularly as the weather was so nice. Also, something seemed familiar to me about this place, despite never having set foot on it previously.
While I was taking photographs at different angles, I noticed a mother and two children looking into the water for fishes or some sort of animal life. I started to look into the water as well, as I walked around the area, and I saw several toads in the water. The bloke was sitting on the side of the bank and did not walk around with me, and he mentioned seeing someone looking at some toads in the grass. At that moment, we happened to see one hopping in the grass toward us. I picked the toad up to take it over to the water, and it did not want to leave my hand. He/she clung on to my hand. I think he/she liked the warmth. Eventually, it left my hand and we watched several toads swimming around and enjoying each other's company.
Eventually, we left the toads to do their own thing that toads do, and we walked up the trail. This led away from the water's edge and onto the cliff. We went through a tunnel carved into the side of the hill, and this tower was built on the top.
The tower had nice views over the water gardens. We walked further along, through the trails with trees on both sides. Eventually, we came to this other tower. I've always loved these styles of temple with the excellent views from them. I want one. Unfortunately, the trees are a little overgrown here, so the views were not that great.
We walked further, and the next spot was the surprise view, known as "Anne Boleyn's Seat". Anne never visited this spot, but it's named after a headless statue. The statue has been replaced, but it was covered up when we visited. The views from here are amazing. Fountains Abbey is in the distance.
After enjoying the view, we walked back onto the trail, which descended the hill top and went along the lake. We watched a lone swan swimming in the lake, and he was soon joined by a couple of ducks. A fight broke out, and the swan succeeded in chasing the ducks off the water. A few minutes later, another arrived, and he hissed at the swan. The fight between the swan and goose did go on for awhile, and I got some photographs of the goose being chased and attacked, but they didn't turn out well. The goose was also chased off and gave up eventually, and he wasn't happy. He let the swan know it.
The view of Fountains Abbey across the lake are beautiful.
We soon made it around the trail to the other side of the abbey ruins. By this time, many of the visitors had left for the day.
I went inside the abbey to take some photographs, and it felt peaceful without the crowds.
I stopped to write a couple of postcards here. I sat on the side of the nave where there's stone seating along the wall. I enjoyed the peace and quiet for awhile. There were still a few people wandering about, but this was nothing compared to how busy it had been earlier. This was a good end to a nice day, although my feet were tired by the end of it.