Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire Dales
Founded by Augustinian monks who moved to the region from Embsay in 1154, the priory took around a century to take form and was one the largest monasteries in England. Building work on the site was still taking place up until the Dissolution of the Monasteries 1540.
LOCATION: Bolton Abbey, Skipton, North Yorkshire BD236EX
WARNING – Please be aware that you cannot park anywhere in Bolton Abbey without incurring a parking charge of £15.00. The estate has also managed to block every other space in the area with rocks and barriers
Whilst Bolton Abbey is an historic estate and small village located on the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales, with a number of small houses as well as a post office, a book store and a hotel, the main thing that comes to mind when people think of Bolton Abbey is its spectacular 12th century priory.
The main buildings were stripped of the lead on their roofs and were open to the elements. Over the years, the stone eroded and the priory crumbled to the ruins you will see today.
Unusually, the Church of St Mary and St Cuthbert, which adjoins the Abbey, managed to survive the Dissolution and was kept intact. Thanks in part to some rebuilding work during the Victorian era it has retained its beauty and boasts delightful wall paintings and superb stained-glass windows.
As well as the stunning architecture on display, the priory hosts a number of events each month, including festivals and concerts. Late October sees the annual Pumpkin Trail, a week of spooky but fun events including a childrens’ hunt for pumpkins and witches in Strid Wood. In December, Father Christmas rolls into the woods and hosts a grotto in an old Roman Caravan.
Those that like a bit of a challenge will probably want to see if they can cross the river using the famous stepping stones. There are 57 stones in total and they have been in place for hundreds of years. The less daring can cross the river by using the bridge a little further downstream.
Bolton Abbey is on the Dales Way, an 85 mile walk from Ilkley to Bowness-on-Windermere. If you are looking for a less strenuous but no less enjoyable stroll then there is a walk in the area follows the banks of the River Wharfe and passes through Strid Wood. This has been declared a ‘Site of Specific Scientific Interest’ because it features over 60 different plant variations and around 40 species of birds. A leaflet showing the walk’s route can be picked up at one of the estate’s car parks.
Heading into the village itself you will pass through a stone archway that was once part of the aqueduct that carried water to a nearby mill. The main village centre includes a number of amenities including the aforementioned book store.
Bolton Abbey Railway Station is just south-west of the village off the A59. It is the central station on the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, a heritage line which opened to the public in the late 1970s using the route of the defunct Skipton to Ilkley connection.
The village is within easy reach of Leeds by car and is popular with people looking for enjoyable day out, while there are hotels and holiday cottages available for those who prefer a longer stay.