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Hello, Witcher fans. If you wanted to visit the filming location where Yennefer saves Cahir in season 2, then you only need to visit Fountains Abbey ruins in Yorkshire!
That’s right, the talented team at Netflix transformed this ancient abbey into a location fit for the Witcherverse fantasy world.
Fountains Abbey is one of the largest monastic ruins in England that was founded in the 12th-century.
It has quite a rich history and finally fell during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Today, it’s a popular National Trust attraction that you can visit near Ripon.
Here is a complete visitor guide for the Fountains Abbey Witcher filming location where Yennefer saves Cahir!
Fountains Abbey history
Fountains Abbey was founded in 1132 by a group of Benedictine monks that lived in St Mary’s in York.
They grew tired of the city where sin, debauchery, and riots were commonplace and the other monks were not as pious as they were.
They wanted to live a simple, peaceful life and so they ended up in Fountains to establish an abbey here.
A couple of years later, they became a Cisterian order and developed a ‘lay brother’ system. Lay brothers would take on labourer jobs for the monks by cultivating the land and selling produce.
The abbey produced wool, lead, cattle, horses, and even quarried stone in this area. This made Fountains Abbey extremely wealthy.
Although they were hit by the Black plague and Scottish rebellions, the monastery held firm and was still an important religious institution during the 14th and 15th centuries.
When Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, Fountains Abbey closed down and all those who lived and worked here were sent away with pensions.
The abbey was seized by the Crown and later sold to Sir Richard Gresham. He stripped Fountains Abbey of most of its prize possessions and sold anything of value – including some of the very foundations of the building!
Sir Stephen Proctor then owned the abbey and also used dismantled the stonework to build Fountains Hall nearby.
Today, Fountains Abbey is owned by the National Trust and has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Fountains Abbey Witcher filming location!
Fans of Netflix’s The Witcher will most definitely recognise Fountains Abbey from series 2 of the show.
In episode 3, “What is Lost”, Fountains Abbey appears when Yennefer is due to execute Cahir to prove that she is not a Nilfgaardian spy.
If you remember, after the Battle of Sodden Hill where Yennefer uses her fire magic, Yennefer is captured by Fringilla. Fringilla plans to use her as a pawn when she returns to Cintra.
However, both of them are captured by the Elves and end up having a powerful encounter with the Deathless Mother, Voleth Meir, in her hut.
Afterward, Yennefer is stripped of her magic and is allowed to return to Brotherhood of Mages. But, Stregobor thinks she is a Nilgaardian spy and invades her mind to find out the truth.
Tissaia saves her but the Brotherhood has decided that she should execute the Nilgaardian Commander, Cahir Mawr Dyffryn aep Ceallach (bit of a mouthful, so we’ll just say Cahir), that they have in custody to prove her loyalty to them.
But when the execution day arrives, in complete surprise to the Brotherhood of Mages and Cahir, Yennefer strikes her axe not at his neck but at his chains! Cahir and Yennefer both make their escape.
These tense execution scenes all take place in the Fountains Abbey ruins in Yorkshire!
Later, in episode 6 ‘Dear Friend’, we see the Studley Water Gardens. This is where Fringilla Vigo discusses plans for Cahir with Francesca Findabair by the lakeside.
Cahir rides up to them on his horse and talks to Fringilla about plans for Cintra and Ciri.
Why did Yennefer save Cahir in The Witcher series 2?
Yennefer saves Cahir as it’s the lesser evil of two options and she doesn’t really have a choice after Voleth Meir.
By this point, Yennefer has lost her magic and so she knows it’s only a matter of time before the Brotherhood of Mages finds out.
If she stays with the Brotherhood she has to take a sideline even though she saved them all at the Battle of Sodden Hill. She’ll also have to live with Stregobor and tolerate his smear campaign against her.
But, if she saves Cahir and runs away she has more options available to her. She’s willing to do anything she can to get back her magic and she believes that saving Cahir and escaping to find a cure is the best way to do that.
Fountains Abbey Witcher filming locations to visit!
Most of the Fountains Abbey Witcher filming locations can be found in the ruins themselves. You’ll find them in the central chamber or the Chapel of Nine Altars.
Plus, there were some scenes filmed at the Studley Water Gardens as well. You can take a short walk from the abbey to these gardens which have a series of gorgeous lakes, a lagoon, temples, and statues!
1. Where the Brotherhood of Mages lead Cahir to his execution
The first time that we see Fountains Abbey in The Witcher is when the Brotherhood of Mages, including Yennefer, are leading Cahir to his execution.
These scenes can be found in the direction of the Studley Royal Water Gardens facing the abbey. You can take a gorgeous walk through the fields towards the ruins just like in the series.
Of course, The Witcher production team lined the grass and abbey with fire torches and decorated the ruins to make them look perfect for the Witcherverse!
2. When Yennefer saves Cahir from execution
The execution block where Cahir was held is placed in the Fountains Abbey Nave and the Chapel of Nine Altars. You can see the ruined archway at the very end.
It’s here that seating was arranged for spectators including King Foltest and King Vizimir II. The Brotherhood of Mages all stood behind the block waiting for Yennefer to deliver Cahir’s punishment.
After Yennefer saves Cahir, Yennefer mounts her horse and Cahir stops her. She then tells him to get on her horse and they ride away. These scenes happen just outside The Chapel of Nine Altars on the green.
3. When Fringilla Vigo and Francesca Findabair discuss Cahir
Later in The Witcher series 2, episode 6 ‘Dear Friend’, we see the Studley Water Gardens feature as Nilfgaard.
This is when Francesa Findabair and Fringilla Vigo are discussing plans for Cahir. You’ll notice the lakes in the background, surrounded by greenery and a statue in the centre which you’ll see on your visit.
Later, Cahir joins them and interrupts Fringilla to discuss plans for Cintra and Ciri. All of these scenes can be found in the central lake at the Studley Water Gardens.
The gardens are lovely to explore on a sunny day. You can walk through serpentine tunnels, visit the Temple of Piety, the Octagon Tower, the Temple of Fame, Anne Boleyn’s seat, a surprise view – and, so much more!
Things to do in Fountains Abbey
Beyond chasing The Witcher filming locations, Fountains Abbey has plenty more things to see while you’re here.
It is a 850 hectare estate and so you won’t have time to see everything here in one day. But, you can definitely take in the best bits on a day out.
Here are some of the best things to do in Fountains Abbey!
Explore the Fountains Abbey ruins
As the largest Monastic ruins that can be found in the country, there is lots to explore. You could honestly spend hours here finding hidden rooms, cloisters, and alcoves.
The most impressive part of Fountains Abbey has to be Huby’s Tower, or the Belltower, that rises over everything else!
It was named after Abbot Huby and it’s 49-metres high. You cannot walk up the tower today as it’s hollow but you can stand underneath it and look up! It will take your breath away.
The Church Nave and the Chapel of Nine Altars stand in the heart of the ruins and this is where the majority of The Witcher scenes took place.
You can also visit the Sacristy and Chapter House where the daily administration of the abbey would take place.
Did you know that Fountains Abbey also acted as a prison? You can find the cells under the Abbot’s House. ‘Vale libertas’ meaning ‘Farewell Freedom’ is carved into the walls!
Fountains Abbey Cellarium
My favourite part of Fountains Abbey was exploring their fabulous Cellarium or Undercroft which has a series of vaulted archways!
This used to be a cool and dark place where the monks would keep their food stores and anything else they wanted to preserve.
You have to think, there were no fridges back in the Middle Ages so the Cellarium was the best place to keep things protected from the elements.
Today, the National Trust regularly holds carol concerts in here as the acoustics are amazing. You may also recognise this area from the BBC series ‘Gunpowder‘ about Guy Fawkes!
Fountains Mill is one of the oldest buildings on the abbey estate and it was built by the Cisterian monks in the 12th-century.
The mill and the water source below allowed them to grind grain and make their own flour for their daily bread and also to feed those who worked in the abbey.
Even after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, it was used continuously throughout the centuries until 1927. Today, you can explore the building and see the process of how it all used to work!
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the land around the abbey was sold to the crown and it eventually fell into the hands of Sir Stephen Proctor.
Like the previous owner, Sir Richard Gresham, he desecrated this sacred building and stripped the abbey of anything of value.
He also tore down many of the foundations of the monastery in order to build Fountains Hall.
It was built between 1598 and 1611 and several families have lived here until it was sold to the West Riding County Council. Today, you can visit the hall as part of your visit.
If you wanted to extend your stay at Fountains Abbey, you can even stay there overnight! Click here for more details.
Studley Royal Water Gardens
Fountains Abbey ruins sit within the large grounds of Studley Royal Water Gardens although this was built much later in 1721.
After John Aislabie left parliament after the South Seas Bubble Scandal, he retired to North Yorkshire to build the gardens. These are now some of the best-preserved Georgian Gardens in England!
Not much has changed about these gardens since Aislabie built them so you can enjoy a large walk around the most notable features.
Highlights of Studley Royal Water Gardens are the Temple of Fame and Peity and the Octagon Tower. You can also see the Surprise View, Anne Boleyn’s Seat, and the Banqueting House.
St Mary’s Church
But, you must not leave without exploring the Gothic St Mary’s Church and the Royal Deer Park where over 300 Red, Sika, and Fallow Deer can be found!
Where to eat in Fountains Abbey
Like most National Trust attractions, there is a Fountains Abbey café located at the visitor centre as you enter.
If you’re visiting later in the afternoon, I would highly recommend that you visit here first as it tends to shut earlier than the abbey and gardens.
I had a really lovely tuna jacket potato here and a hearty slice of coffee and walnut cake which set me up nicely for a few hours of exploring the ruins and a walk!
They have a huge indoor sitting area if its cold but I made use of their patio with outdoor seating as it was such a sunny afternoon.
There is also a tearoom at the Fountains Mill that you can visit closer to the ruins that is open throughout the day.
How to visit Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire
Fountains Abbey is located in the small settlement of Fountains in Ripon within the North Yorkshire.
It’s in quite a remote location in the countryside so the easiest way to access the abbey would be to drive. You can reach Fountains Abbey off the A1 and it is 12 miles off the A61 road.
Then you take the B6265 to Pateley Bridge from Ripon. There are many brown tourist signs guiding you to Fountains Abbey!
If you’re not driving, you will need to take a bus from either Leeds or Harrogate to Ripon. Click here to plan your journey with Dales bus.
Fountains Abbey postcode is Fountains, Ripon, HG4 3DY. Click here for a Google pin!
Fountains Abbey parking
There is FREE parking available at Fountains Abbey for visitors and is included in your ticket. This is a large car park situated outside of the abbey visitor centre entrance.
Note that it will take you around 10-15 minutes walk to reach the abbey from the ticket desk.
The National Trust do have an accessibility buggy that can take you down to the abbey as an alternative if you cannot walk there.
Fountains Abbey opening times and prices
Fountains Abbey is open all year round and typically opens around 10 am. The abbey and gardens close at 5 pm in winter and 6 pm in the summer season.
The last entry is usually around an hour before closing. This is also when the visitor centre, cafés, and gift shops close as well.
Fountains Abbey is not the cheapest attraction at £18.70 for an adult ticket and £9.40 for a child ticket. But, there is a lot to see and do around here so you could easily spend the whole day here exploring!
I would recommend leaving at least 3-4 hours for your visit to explore both the ruins and the water gardens. There are so many walking trails and attractions so you’ll need lots of time.
National Trust members get their parking and entry tickets for FREE. Click here for the latest opening times and prices.
Looking for more Witcher filming locations in the UK?
If you were looking for more Witcher filming locations in the UK, there are quite a few you can visit around Durham, Yorkshire, and the Lake District.
In Yorkshire, you can visit the impressive Gordale Scar location that featured when Geralt and Ciri fight the Myriapod. Plumpton Rocks is also a location where Geralt fights the Chernabog!
Hodge Close Quarry is the cave where Geralt and Vesemir lay Eskel’s body to rest!
Or, in County Durham, you can visit Low Force waterfall where Yennefer teaches Ciri how to control her chaos!