Saturday, 31 October 2015

Autumn at Fountains Abbey

So, autumn is here again. The leaves are changing colour, the nights are drawing in and York is perpetually foggy again. I had an incredibly busy summer, so I'll be writing about what I got up to over the break soon. But first, something a little more seasonal.

My favourite season is almost always the one I'm currently in, and this autumn is no exception. I love the sense of transition that autumn has; somewhere between the lushness of late summer and the starkness of winter, every day is different as the seasons change and the plants and wildlife react to it. Last weekend I went to Fountains Abbey with my family to make the most of a patch of good weather. It's a beautiful place whatever the time of year, but autumnal sunshine really showed it at its best.

The abbey is incredible and well worth a visit in its own right. A Cistercian monastery from the 12th century up to the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, it is one of the most impressive ruins I've seen in the UK. There is something incredibly atmospheric about seeing the tower, almost intact, rising from the ruined cloisters. When we looked around the abbey, the light was beginning to fade as the mist drew in, and it became one of those rare places where even the air feels old.

The reason we didn't get to the abbey itself until it was nearing dusk was because of the other brilliant thing about Fountains- Studley Royal Water Garden. The remains of the 18th century grounds of a stately home, they are complete with wooded slopes, reflective ponds and, of course, follies. With the trees in their autumn finery, the opportunity of getting some photographs of reflections in the ponds was too good to miss! When we visited most trees still had their leaves, but the yellows, oranges and russets were really starting to shine through the green. Then, as the fog drew in, all the colours became more ghostly, until you could barely make out the abbey in the middle distance.  

Until the 29th November, the grounds at Studley Royal are playing host to 'folly!' This series of art installations is themed around "visual trickery and untold histories" and incorporates some of the many follies within the parkland. My personal favourites were both by Gary McCann. 'Lost property' is a giant magpie nest filling a Grecian temple, surrounded by 'stolen' objects from visitors to the site, and 'Scavenger' is the huge, beautiful statue in the photo above. I love crows, and this statue really seemed to capture the intelligence and awareness of these fascinating birds. I also loved the way that they brought a sense of wildness into such a man-made space; a timely reminder that nowhere is too human to let nature in.

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal form part of the same site, owned by the National Trust. They are a few miles away from Ripon, and well worth a visit if you're anywhere near Yorkshire this time of year.


  1. This place looks great! I'll definitely have to visit! That statue is amazing! Love your photos by the way, they capture the atmosphere brilliantly, Well Done.

    josievictoriaa // fashion, travel and lifestyle

    1. Thanks! Yes, it's amazing, you really should visit!

  2. The photos on your blog are amazing! :) I love them! Great post!
    -Jenna <3
    Check out my blog! The Chic Cupcake