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Bolton Bridge and Priory walk
As winter moves on and shortens the days it makes sense to plan short walks and it is all the better if the route is full of history and natural history.
The historic Devonshire Arms Hotel is the starting point for this walk.
This has been owned by the Dukes of Devonshire since 1773. Close by is the Bolton Abbey railway station.
This is part of the Embsay and Bolton Abbey steam railway.
The Abbey station has been beautifully restored and would be recognised by both Edward VIII and George V.
Both monarchs regularly visited the Duke of Devonshire to enjoy the shooting on the estate.
From the hotel turn left to find the old road to Bolton Bridge. This road has now been closed to traffic and has produced a really excellent footpath.
Look for a footpath sign pointing to Bolton Priory.
This differs from an Abbey in the sense that the local people could actually take part in the services and thus doubled as a parish church.
The route follows the River Wharfe which is on the right and is popular with anglers. Look to the left and see the cricket field which is a delight in summer.
This is, however, a winter stroll and an excellent place to enjoy a birdwatch with resident species including dipper, kingfisher and grey wagtail whilst in winter then is the chance to see heron, goosander and the occasional red breasted merganser and goldeneye.
Approach a wooden footbridge and a set of stepping stones which were there long before the bridge.
Look up to the left to see the ruins of the Priory.
Climb the winding track up to the complex of monastic buildings.
The Priory was dissolved in 1539 on the orders of Henry VIII but became the abbey church also served the parish and this was why it was saved.
Time should be spent here and there is always gentle religious music playing which adds to the atmosphere.
Return to the church and return to the footbridge. Cross this and turn right. The River Wharfe is now on the right and the track is obvious.
Pass over stiles through gates and over a series of lush fields. At the old Bolton Bridge reach the road and turn right to return to the starting point.
Another Walk:- This is a second ideal winter walk and begins and ends close to the Priory and leads through the woodlands along the wharfe and towards an area of fast moving water known as the Strid.
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