As soon as you walk down the hill, the tower emerges in all its glory. Then you see the columns and arches soaring into the sky.
Fountains Abbey is a skeleton of its former glory, yet one of the best preserved ruins in Britain. You need to spend all day in this UNESCO World Heritage site in Ripon.
After admiring the ruins you can explore the 18th and 19th century follies in the landscaped grounds.
The abbey was built in 1132, the result of a religious divide amongst monks in York.
The small group that settled here were more conservative, believing that Benedictine monks should live more closely to the rules laid down by the Bible.
Eking out a living on the verge of starvation, they sold wool to pay for their upkeep.
The Abbey would not have survived without France. Money and supplies were sent over from there when they joined the Cistercian Order. They lived in silence, suffering cold temperatures with only brief respite at the fire.
They suffered from the Plague and finally from Henry VIII’s pillaging. He sold it to a nobleman in the 1500s, after arranging for the roof to be removed and sold.
In the 19th century it fell into ruin before being restored, which is still an ongoing project.
It costs £1,000,000 to run each year with the combined forces of The National Trust and English Heritage.