Bolton Abbey

Bolton Abbey is an estate in the Yorkshire Dales a few miles north of Skipton. There is a small village of the same name and close to the village the ruins of a 12th century priory that gives its name to both the village and the estate. The River Wharfe runs through the estate and in front of the Abbey there are a famous set of stepping stones across the river.

The view of the ruined abbey and stepping stones is the main attraction for photographers, but there are also extensive woodland walks and a few miles north of the abbey is the Strid, where the river is forced through some narrow rocks.

Location and Parking

Post Code: BD23 6EX

Bolton Abbey is easily reached from the A59, the main A road linking Lancashire and Yorkshire. About 6 miles east of Skipton at a roundabout, take the B6160 north for 0.7 miles to reach the main car park at Bolton Abbey Village This is the closest car park to the abbey, which is reached by walking east out of the car park, past some shops and a cafe and through a gap in a wall, where the abbey and River Wharfe come into sight.

The car parking is quite expensive at £12.50 if booked in advance, however it is transferable to two other car parks at the Riverside car park for the Cavendish Pavilion and the Strid car park, both of which are a little further north along the B6160.

Bolton Priory And Stepping Stones

Bolton Abbey (or more correctly Bolton Priory) was established in the 12th Century, and survived until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1540.  Building work was ongoing at the time the monastery was dissolved, so some of the present day remains have either fallen into ruin, or were never completed in the first place. However part of the priory church was preserved and remains in use today as a parish church.

The best view of the priory is from the opposite side of the River Wharfe, where the ruins can be photographed with the famous stepping stones in the foreground. Fortunately there is a footbridge across the river in addition to the stepping stones. At the time of our visit in December, the stones were actually below the level of the river due to heavy rainfall, but their position is still quite obvious.

Bolton Priory And Stepping Stones

There is really only the one view across the river to the abbey, but the shot can be taken from the path just after crossing the bridge, or from a narrow piece of river bank blow the path, as in the image below.

Bolton Priory And Stepping Stones

Having crossed the bridge, the path continues north on the east side of the River Wharfe, passing through some woodland, until another bridge is reached, crossing to the Cavendish Pavilion. From there, the return to the abbey is on the west bank. At one point, the path crosses a field and climbs to reach the Cavendish Memorial Fountain, where there is another view of the Priory and the River Wharfe.

Bolton Priory And The River Wharfe

We did not visit the Strid or the woodlands further north, so those are left for another day.


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