Walk: Bolton Abbey

This last week I had to go to Skipton and decided that my labrador deserved a walk. I cast my mind back to last summer and decided to visit Bolton Abbey.

This last week I had to go to Skipton and decided that my labrador deserved a walk. I cast my mind back to last summer and decided to visit Bolton Abbey.

It should really be called a Priory because the monks did not isolate themselves but allowed local people to go in the services.

1. From the area of the car park walk away from the station. Before reaching the old and now disused railway bridge look out for a footpath sign to the left. Pass through a gate and look out for the A59 road away in the distance. Descend through a field.

Cross over an old steam bed and then more between a little bridge over a stream. Bear sharp right. Keep the stream to the right and pass beneath an ugly but very functional bridge carrying the A59 over some tributaries of the River Wharfe.

2. Turn sharp left and follow a path leading to a substantial fence.

At the fence pass through a gate and turn right onto a footpath and bridgeway. Until the A59 was built this was the narrow and winding main road. Approach a substantial gate from which there are magnificent views of fields to the left overlooked by rolling hills to the right. Approach the Devonshire Arms Country House Hotel. Pass through another substantial gate and cross over the B6160. The road is on the bus route between Skipton and Ilkley. Turn right past the Devonshire Arms and to the right are the old Abbey Tea Rooms. In a short distance turn left along a track marked Beamsley Lane. This leads to the old Bolton Bridge, which has spanned the River Wharfe since the Middle Ages. At the bridge look for a footpath sign indicating Bolton Abbey.

3.Turn left. Keep the wharfe on the right and Bolton Abbey cricket ground on the left. The Devonshire Arms is on the left. Look up to the right and above the river to see the hamlet of Beamsley.

4.Cross a stile and at this point you can see the abbey in its wonderful setting. Continue along the obvious track, which gently sweeps first to the left and then to the right and eventually passes close to the bank of the Wharfe. Continue to bear right, crossing a small wooden bridge. This does not cross the river but spans the damp areas of the old monastic fish ponds.

5.Approach a substantial wooden footbridge over the Wharfe but do not cross it. This and the nearby stepping stones which preceded the bridge are popular in the summer by those visiting the ice cream van. Turn left away from the River Wharfe and follow a track keeping the river on the right. Climb steeply and pass through a stile and then over the stone steps to reach Bolton Abbey ruins and church. the Priory Church of St Mary and St Cuthbert is a joy and still in use. Bolton’s church was allowed to continue in use after Henry VIII dissolved the Priory in 1539. The rest of the buildings were knocked down and the timbers were buried to meet the valuable lead which was sold.

6.From the church climb the gentle slope up to Bolton Abbey village taking care when meeting the busy B6160.

7.Turn left and follow the roadside footpath all the way back to the Devonshire Arms. Look for the Old Road Bridlepack.

Turn right and then left through the gate and follow the signs back to the starting point.

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