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Exploring Bolton Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales of England

It’s picturesque, has a fascinating history, provides plenty of  walking trails and is a place that people of all ages can enjoy – it’s Bolton Abbey, in the Yorkshire Dales.

bolton-abbey-by-dominic-brentonThe village of Bolton Abbey is located seven miles from Skipton, 17 miles from Harrogate, and lies on the banks of the River Wharfe. There you’ll find the Bolton Abbey estate, of about 30,000 acres, which is perhaps best known for its ruins of a 12th century Augustinian Priory.

The estate is owned and run by the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees, a trust which was set up by the 11th Duke of Devonshire to help preserve the area. One of the main attractions boltonabbey-inside-ruinis the ruined priory, which is easy to access via a short walk from the main car park. The priory was formed in 1151 by the Augustinians, in a picturesque spot overlooking the River Wharfe.

Although much of the original building was destroyed due to the dissolution of the monasteries, the nave was saved, and it has become the Priory Church of St Mary and St Cuthbert, which still stands today. The church is very much alive and well and they welcome visitors in to have a look around.

The Countryside

The other big attraction of Bolton Abbey is the wonderful countryside, the river and the walks. There are over 80 miles of footpaths, including moorland walks, woodland nature trails and rivers. Some of the footpaths have been improved in recent years to make them suitable for pushchairs (awkward stiles, for example, have been removed) and it’s possible to take dogs on leads (leads are essential as cattle are grazing in some areas).

boltonabbey-bridge-and-stepping-stonesSome of the walking trails available take you to the ruins of Barden Tower, a hunting lodge and home of the 10th Lord of Skipton and Strid Wood, where the River Wharfe suddenly narrows away.

Bolton Abbey as a whole, is lovely and it’s easy to spend the entire day there. There are plenty of places along the river banks near the ruins to stop and take in the views, or have a picnic. Plus, there’s a small beach-like sandy area  for children to enjoy and some stepping stones across the river nearby, as an alternative option to the bridge. On hot days, it’s not unusual to find people cooling off in the water!

bolton-abbey-steppingstonesThere are several places to eat on the estate as well, from tea rooms to restaurants. The Cavendish Pavillion is just one of the several venues available for those wanting a meal or snack.

Compared to other tourist attractions, Bolton Abbey offers very good value for money. Rather than charging an admission fee on a per person basis, they work on a per car basis instead, with the fee taken as you park your car.

boltonabbey-through-the-wallThere are three car parks on the Bolton Abbey Estate and it’s great that your ticket is valid for all three car parks on the day it’s issued, which means you’ve got the option of starting the day off on one side of the estate, then moving over to park in another car park to explore additional areas. Anyone travelling by public transport gets the added bonus that admission is completely free.

Bolton Abbey
North Yorkshire
BD23 6EX
Tel: 01756 718009

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