Fountains abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden is a National Trust property, which we visit regularly. It’s a World Heritage Site incorporating an 18th-century water garden, one of the largest Cistercian abbey ruins in Europe, and a deer park containing over 500 deer. The deer park and gardens are great for wildlife photography, particularly for photographing the red deer rut in autumn. There are also swans and other waterfowl on the lake, woodland birds in the park, and fallow and sika deer.
The red deer are the largest, and the rut is usually in mid-September to late-October. Fallow deer rut is at a similar time. The young of both are born in May-June (red deer young are called calves, fallow deer young are called fawns). Sika deer are the smallest and most timid deer. There are dark and white variants of fallow deer in the park, as well as the standard fawn colour with white spots, but the mature bucks can be distinguished by their palmate (flattened) antlers.
The park also has many ancient trees – several hundred years old. There is a beautiful lime tree avenue framing a view through the deer park to Ripon Cathedral, and the Victorian St Mary’s church is also worth photographing.
The abbey ruins at Fountains are the largest monastic ruins in the country. In autumn the ruins are floodlit of an evening, which provides opportunities for some different views of the ruins, though a tripod is essential.