With the rain so continuous here in the north of England, a desperately-needed breath of fresh air hasn’t been too easy to arrange.
We did, however, take advantage of a brief day of sunshine recently to visit Studley Royal, the 18th century landscaped grounds and medieval deer park next to Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire.
If you don’t visit the abbey and its grounds, this day out is free if you park at the main visitor centre or just the price of parking down by the lake.
We parked, as usual, up at the main visitor centre, had coffee, then walked along the footpath to St Mary’s Church, late Victorian and built as a memorial.
An added bonus – if you land on the right day and at the right time, you can watch the deer (Red, Fallow and Sika) being fed!
Then down the hill past some amazing old and twisted sweet chestnut trees. A few years ago, on a particularly windy day, a huge branch broke off one of these and crashed to the ground only a few yards from us – we were extremely glad we hadn’t been closer!
Down at the lake, there are usually young families happily feeding the ducks (although the geese can be a bit feisty!)
We skirted around the lake, crossed the bridge over the weir (that’s the bit I hate – I’m phobic about bridges over fast-running water. One of these days I’ll get myself some blinkers!) and then walked through what is known as the seven bridges valley, with its series of pretty little stone bridges crossing the river Skell as it winds along.
Eventually the path leaves the valley and becomes a farm track, which we followed uphill long enough to get a distant view of Ripon Cathedral before turning back and retracing our route, stopping for a well-earned cuppa at the tea room overlooking the lake.