Folly Fun at Fountains Abbey

We were invited to attend a blogger picnic at Fountains Abbey and as it's not far up the road from us at all, we jumped at the chance. We love Fountains Abbey, which is situated just outside of Ripon. It's a National Trust location and a World Heritage site. There's plenty of space for the children to run around, play parks, and plenty of follies! When Studley Royal water gardens were designed they had follies scattered around to make the most of the incredible views. They also added to the mystery of the garden and encourage people to explore. Each of the follies has a different design and its own meaning. In the water gardens at Studley Royal they have added some art to the garden in the shape of four new follies. We were ready to take on the Art in the Garden walk and see just how many follies we could explore.

Folly Art Fountains Abbey

The first folly we saw on our way to the picnic is called The Cloud and it was designed by Foster Carter who is only 11 years old. His design was the winner of a schools' competition to design a folly for the garden. One of my children's friends had won a prize in the competition too, so we were all excited to see what the winning entry looked like. I could stand and look at this folly for absolutely ages. It even rains, by holding in rain water and letting it drip out through holes in the bottom. I love how whimsical this folly is and it's such a great idea.

The Cloud Folly

Whilst we ate our lunch and chatted to other bloggers, the children played games on the green in front of The Banqueting House. There are dressing up Georgian clothes for both adults and children there, and the Georgian games are on the lawn for all to play. Our picnic spot also had an amazing view of another new folly, The Gazing  Ball. This has been designed by Lucy and Jorge Orta and it has an amazing frame with a reflective ball on the top which changes the perspective of the view around you. It's really interesting to look at, and if you sit inside and look up then it gives another dimension to the sculpture.

The Gazing Ball folly

The children's favourite folly is Polly by Charles Holland. It's brightly coloured and fantastic fun. Inside it is nearly pitch black. There's a circular table and a wheel to turn. When the wheel is turned, you realise that you can see on the table what Polly the folly can see through her 'eye'. It can get pretty dark when Polly's looking at the trees! My children delighted in scaring me inside this folly. It was their favourite folly of the day!

Polly the folly
The Listening Tower Folly

The Listening Tower is there to transport you back 250 years to when a bathing house stood nearby. There are copper listening holes on the folly and you are encouraged to listen to the water falling inside. It's a gentle dripping sound, which is very pleasing to listen to. This folly was designed by Pascal and Thomas from FleaFolly. There are three listening holes on the side of the folly, and all at different heights so that everyone in the family can ensure they get to hear!

Picnic at Studley Royal
PlayDoh Folly

We sat next to Polly the folly to create our own follies from PlayDoh. My daughter made this incredibly colourful bird which I absolutely loved. We were also treated to some delicious ice cream whilst we sat and took in the spectacular views. 

Studley Royal Water Gardens

After the picnic and the folly walk, we explored the rest of Studley Royal water gardens. It's such a stunning and peaceful place. The children enjoyed looking for dens and dipping in and out of the undergrowth. We all had fun spotting dragonflies which were flitting around the water's edge.

Red Deer Fountains Abbey

On our way out of the park we were lucky enough to spot some red deer which live on the park. They are breathtakingly beautiful and we stopped the car to watch them enjoying the late afternoon. It really was a perfect end to a magical day. For more information check out the National Trust's website. If you get a chance to visit, then it really is worth checking out the new follies.

Disclosure: We were provided with free entry and a picnic for the purpose of this post. All opinion is my own.