Bolton Abbey and The Strid: Archive walk October 2013

Bolton Abbey and The Strid 

First published October 2013

The exterior of The Thornhill Arms, located in Yorkshire's Calverley

Bolton Priory walk

Distance: 6.85 miles (11km)

Height gain: Undulating 500 ft (152m) approx

Time: 3 hours

Start: Bolton Abbey Estate Car Park GR071539

How to get there: From the A59, Skipton to Harrogate road, take the B6160 at Bolton Bridge to Bolton Abbey, park in the main car park

Terrain: Dressed paths throughout

Refreshments and facilities: Toilets at the start. Toilets and refreshments at the Cavendish Pavillion

Map: OS Explorer OL2 (Yorkshire Dales)

The Augustinian Order of monks certainly knew how to pick the sites for their Priories! This must be one of the most idyllic locations for a monastic seat in the country; situated on the banks of the tranquil River Wharfe. Bolton Abbey was founded in 1155 by the Augustinian Order of monks, known as the Black Canon because of the colour of the robes that they wore. In the priory’s heyday of the fourteenth century there were twenty-six canons and some 200 lay workers.

This walk passes by the Priory itself and then takes a circuitous route along the banks of the river, up to the medieval hunting lodge of Barden Tower before returning to pass by the impressive falls known as the Strid. Today the property is part of the Yorkshire estate of the Duke of Devonshire and is beautifully maintained throughout. Popular at any time of the year the autumn colours on the trees through the woods make the walk particularly pleasurable in October.

The ruins of Bolton Abbey, above, and Strid Wood, below, bathed in autumn colours


1 Leave the car park at Bolton Abbey, following the signs to the Priory ruins onto the main road and walk a few yards along the road. Cross over and go through the ‘hole in the wall’ to pick up a clear path past the ruined Priory buildings heading down towards the Wharfe.

2 There is a choice on how to cross over the Wharfe, either take the solid footbridge, or, for the more adventurous, try crossing the well-laid stepping stones, formerly the right of way linking the hamlet of Storiths with the Priory. A fingerpost indicates the way showing ‘FP Barden Bridge 3¼miles’ to follow the route of the Dales Way upstream. Take the path up the hillside above the Wharfe to enter some woodland. Continue on the high-level path, before descending to cross Pickles Beck either through the ford or over the adjacent bridge. Immediately regain the path following the signs to Posforth Bridge and re-enter the estate through the stile or gate. Pass the Cavendish Pavilion on the opposite bank. Where the Wharfe splits just continue on the clear riverside path.

3The path goes over a wooden footbridge adjacent to the stone-built Posforth Bridge and the path continues upstream on the dressed path where the path enters the SSSI of Strid Wood. The path rises up to the shelter of Harrison’s Ford Seat where the view opens out downstream along the Wharfe and the path starts to descend. Turning a corner one can see through the trees down onto The Strid below. Emerging from the wood there is more to take in, with a glimpse of the estate bridge and Barden Tower.

4 The path continues through pastures beside the Wharfe to reach a fine stone-built Victorian arched aqueduct (bridge). If you don’t fancy the extra stretch up to Barden Tower, cross the bridge at this point and commence the return route. Alternatively continue on the right hand bank up to Barden Bridge.

The Strid in full flow


5 Upon arriving at Barden Bridge leave the estate for a moment and cross the Wharfe over the stone-built bridge and immediately take the return path through the gate on the left. Climb the hill to visit the former hunting lodge of Barden Tower or simply start the return along the riverbank back to the arched aqueduct.

6 Arriving back at the four-arched aqueduct pass through the smallest arch and continue on the path alongside the Wharfe. The path re-enters Strid Wood, crossing over Barden Beck bridge; keep left close to the river bank, passing the falls of High Strid and The Strid. Take great care if you choose to scramble down to observe The Strid. Keep to the main path on the right where the path forks to go to Ludd Stream Islands.

7 The path emerges from the wood at the Cavendish Pavilion, built in the 1890s as a tea room for the thousands of Victorian day visitors. Continue on the path hugging the banks of the Wharfe, heading towards the Priory. Pass through the extended car park and leave the field through a wooden gate to cross another field and rise up the bank to meet the road at the Cavendish memorial fountain.

8 Take the path beside the road until it re-enters the Bolton Abbey estate. Follow the path down to the Priory for a close look at the ruins and nave, still functioning as the parish church. From here it is a simple matter of reversing the outward route back to the start.

The former hunting lodge of Barden Tower

Walking can be strenuous, and it is up to you to approach it with caution and if you are inexperienced to do so under appropriate supervision. You should also carry appropriate clothing, equipment and maps, and wear suitable footwear. The details given here were believed to be correct at the time of going to press but neither the author nor Country Publications Ltd can accept responsibility for inaccuracies.


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