Fountain’s Abbey is one of our favourite places for an afternoon out in the sunshine- it’s got the ruins for me as the history nerd and some lovely walks around the Georgian water gardens. With English Heritage and National Trust membership, both the boyfriend and I get in free which certainly helps, as it wouldn’t be cheap otherwise.
A nice little surprise on the walk from the entrance to the Abbey is the bird hide- although I don’t know very much about birds, it is a nice spot to sit and watch them. They have pictures up so you can identify what you are looking at, and the numerous feeders mean there’s always something to watch. The boyfriend could spend all day there looking at the wildlife, but after about ten minutes, I usually push us on towards the Abbey.
It is a huge, picturesque ruin of a old Abbey that was pulled down during Henry VIII’s dissolution, but has been kept in fairly good condition since then. There is plenty to walk around and explore in the ruins with little signs telling you which room you are in, and they have the plus of being nice and shaded for a hot day. From the Abbey you can walk along the river into the water gardens (although the river is having some maintenance at the moment and the diggers etc. slightly ruin the view).
There are several routes around the gardens of different lengths and climbs, depending how you are feeling. They have several ‘follies’ which are these little tower or shelter things which are nice, and they have a load of art exhibits on in them over the summer. There is also a deer park if you wanted to walk a little further, but we’ve never seen any deer as it’s so large they can easily be nowhere near where the public are.
Having an ice cream at the end from the kiosk always rounds off the afternoon nicely, and although there’s a cafe on site, they are more than happy for people to bring a picnic to eat on the large grassy bit near the abbey and there’s always kids running around and playing football etc. when we’ve been, which is nice to see. Overall, it is just plain lovely, and as an American I once met said, “It’s the perfect place- you don’t know how lucky you lot are!”