Fountains By Floodlight
Topic: Night Trips
On Saturday, October 8, Larry and Ryan and I visited the Fountains Abbey, to see the Fountains By Floodlight. It is said that, "Getting there is half the fun." Getting there was in some doubt for a while. All day and into the evening it rained quite a bit. However, about an hour or so before we needed to leave, the skies cleared. The Abbey is in nearby Ripon. I looked on a map to see how to get there. I said to Larry, "It should only take about ten or fifteen minutes to get there." This was met by much laughter on Larry's part. As the crow flies, Ripon is only about twelve miles from Harrogate (directly north). However... there are really only two-lane back roads that twist and turn and meander in the general direction of the next town or village. It took over half an hour for us to get there, and that was without traffic! Once we were there, it took us a while to figure out where to park and where to go in. Trust me, this wasn't obvious. One of the things about the States is that from stores to national monuments, parking and entrances are always extremely obvious. Not so abroad. One of my favorite examples of this is the Fortress in Wuerzburg. You have to drive through a neighborhood to get there.
Anyhow, we eventually figured out where we needed to go and where we could park. The entrance fee was half-price in the evening, which was nice. Also, the area is very stroller-friendly, which is now something I very much appreciate. Admission was through the gift shop/visitor's center, then it was a little bit of a walk to the actual Abbey.
Our neck of the woods is, as Larry likes to say, "out in the boondocks." It's mostly rural, so there's almost no light pollution whatsoever. Most of the way between Harrogate and Ripon there aren't even street lights. As we walked from the visitor's center, I looked up and was amazed to be able to see the Milky Way, and more stars in the sky than I've seen in a long time. There was so little man-made light that the sky was almost black. All those little dim stars that you don't normally see were visible. Larry commented that it was weird to see the Big Dipper so low in the sky. I agreed.
The way to the Abbey was mostly downhill. We had to go through a couple of closed gates to get there. That was something I wasn't used to. In the States closed gates would normally mean "don't pass," but at the Abbey they were simply to be opened, passed through, then closed again.
We finally got to the Abbey. Gregorian music played, adding to the atmosphere and beauty of the flood-lit ruins. I was surprised at how many other people were there. It was by no means crowded, but we definitely weren't the only ones around. I saw several people with cameras and tripods. Speaking of, we didn't manage to get very many good photos. I would love to blame the camera, but since you can adjust the settings six ways from Sunday, I'm inclined to think it was the operators. Larry and I did our best, but with the unusual conditions, most of the photos turned out blurry. We did get a few decent ones though.
In one section of the Abbey, there was a live choir performing. They were very good. We stayed for a few minutes, enjoying the music. It was chilly out, so we didn't stay long. Ryan tolerates the cold well, but we didn't want the little guy to get too cold. We started our walk back. That's when it really hit me just how downhill the walk there had been!
There is a lot to see at Fountains Abbey. They also have a lot of events throughout the year. Larry and I are probably going to get a membership with the National Trust, which I believe gives members entrance to a number of sites throughout the country. Here is a link to the Fountains Abbey website: Fountains Abbey
It's got a lot of interesting information. Click here for more pictures from our evening at the Abbey. Fountains By Floodlight
Posted by hkvlayman
at 12:35 PM BST
Updated: Wednesday, 12 October 2005 3:52 PM BST