dog paddling at bolton abbey ruins

Bolton Abbey combined with a circular walk of The Strid, with Strid Wood, is a fantastic walk for any season. History in a beautiful natural setting and miles of walking amongst unique natural beauty.

This is a 7 mile walk I have done many times and shall do so many times again. I enjoy it, the dogs enjoy it and you will see that when you are there that many people enjoy it, from families to couples, it is a place for all.

In fact you will see from the photos that it is a mix of pics of my walks here through time, I think all my dogs I have had have done this walk.

Not only do you experience the history of these majestic ruins of the Wharfe Valley, you get to walk through and experience the ancient woodland and see the famous narrow river point, The Strid.

BaldHiker Retreats
bolton abbey strid

It is not just a walk in nature, it is a walk in history and intrigue.

Parking and Cost

There are 3 car parks for The Strid and Bolton Abbey. Two of them are away from the ruins and although you pass every car park on the walk, meaning you can start at any of them, I prefer to start and end at the ruins themselves at Bolton Abbey Car Park.

Postcode for the car park: BD23 6EX

Now then the 3 car parks are the only parking in the whole area and this is how the entry to everything works. You do not pay entry per person but you pay per car, no matter how many passengers.

So for example at the time of writing a car with all passengers included is £15 or £12.50 if booked in advance.

Bolton Abbey Ruins

From the car park, follow the signs for the Abbey Ruins and you pass through hole in the stone walls and there it all is. The ruins and the beautiful setting on the Wharfe Valley.

bolton abbey ruins

A Brief History

Firstly it was never an Abbey. As it was headed by a Prior it should be named Bolton Priory. When the first railways came to the area and they created the first timetables they decided that Bolton-in-Wharfedale was too long. So whoever wrote it shortened it wrongly to Bolton Abbey and not Bolton Priory.

The Priory was founded here in 1154 by the Augustinian Order using land given to them by Lady Alice de Romille who lived at Skipton Castle and owned the land.

Alas the dissolution of the monasteries came in 1534 and the Priory was no more. Assets were stripped from the jewels to the roof and it was then it started to ruin.

boltan priory ruins and river wharfe

The Church

However, half of the nave of the priory was allowed to be kept for worship in the new religious order and became The Priory Church of St. Mary and St. Cuthbert. So this has been a place of worship from the 12th Century to the present day.

In the graveyard you will find the grave of Fred Trueman the Yorkshire cricketer.

The Stepping Stones

To start the walk and get to the other side of the river you have 2 choices of crossing, via the bridge or the stepping stones. In fact the stepping stones are probably as famous as the ruins for visitors.

The stepping stones are a fun challenge for all the family. There are 60 stones in total and after heavy rain when the water rises it almost looks like walking on water.

stepping stones at bolton abbey

This area across the river is very popular for visitors and families to have picnics at the waterside with the valley and ruins as a backdrop.

The Outward Walk

The walk is circular as I have said but what you are doing is walking a length of the River Wharfe and coming back on the other side.

The reason I head out on the opposite side first is for many reasons. To get the upwards done early, get amongst nature and views early and thai way the refreshments are on the way back as I shall explain.

the river and strid wood

After crossing the stepping stones you will see a path heading upwards and to the right. This then takes you up into the lovely woodland and allows massive views through the trees of the river, valley and the ruins.

You will walk about 3 miles with some up above and some down below in the ancient woodland. Enjoying every step.

walking the strid and view

You will pass a couple of bridges over the river on route but keep going until you get to Barden Bridge.

Along the way you will come to a stone bench. I always smile at this point with fond memories of doing this walk with my old Basset Hounds, Monty and Jasmine, bless them, this was a long walk for them.

2 dogs bolton abbey walk

Barden Bridge is the turnaround point. There could well be an ice cream van here as it is one of the other car park areas too.

Barden Bridge

Barden Bridge is a 17th century, humpbacked, 3 arched bridge that carries the road across the River Wharfe, and you are now near the village of Appletreewick.

If you have watched the new adaptation of All Creatures Great And Small you may spot that this is the bridge used when James Herriot was having car stand offs with Hugh in series 1. 

barden bridge

It is easy to see why they chose this bridge. It is a lovely setting indeed.

The Turn Around

After crossing the bridge you will see a little gap in the wall on your left and the path that follows back on the opposite side of the river from what you came.

Walking through the ancient trees of Strid Wood is great way to spend some time walking. There is so much nature abound here.

The way back is all on the low and the most of it right by the riverside itself. It is on the way back that you come to The Strid.

The Strid

The Strid is a part of the River Wharfe where it goes from wide and suddenly gets forced to narrow between mossy rock sides at high pressure. The name strid comes from ‘stryth’ which is old English for ‘turmoil’.

the strid flowing water

Just before the Strid you will see that the river is wide, about 90 feet across. Then suddenly it hits the Strid which is about 6 feet wide and doesn’t overflow. That means it is not only fast flowing but also very deep!

Not only that, but under the water level the rushing water has carved out caves into the rock. Please be very careful here and stay safe from the water’s edge. There have been many fatalities over the centuries.

the strid and the dog

That being said, it is spectacular to see. It became such an attraction in the Victorian Age that a path was built, to the strid from the Priory, for horse and carriages so people could come see it. This tells you that the path back to the start is going to be wider and flatter.

This also means that those with wheelchairs and prams can get to the Strid from the car parks too.

the narrow strid

Cavendish Pavilion

After passing the strid and before you get back to the ruins you will pass by Cavendish Pavilion. By the riverside it is the perfect spot to sit back and enjoy a coffee or a bite to eat, or maybe an ice cream.

There is plenty of inside seating but if the weather is nice there is lots of outdoor seating too.

Being situated deep within the beauty of Wharfedale with Strid Wood as a backdrop, this cafe transforms into a place for weddings too.

Back To The Start

All refreshed it is time to head down along the footpath and back to to the village of Bolton Abbey where you started.

This is where you will pass by the church too so you get the ruins on the way out and the church on the way back.

reflection of bolton abbey with a duck

A great walk done and knowing it will be done again for sure.

Route Details and GPX

Distance – 7 miles

Time – 3 hours

Download the GPX – Bolton Abbey and Strid Walk

bolton abbey and strid walk map
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  1. Wonderful place honestly no comment ….

  2. Barry Whittingham says:

    Congratulations on the quality of your photos. They certainly brought back happy memories of my childhood in Yorkshire. I remember falling off the stepping stones across the River Wharfe at the tender age of six! Talk about a soaking!

  3. tinasomberg says:

    Fantastic pictures! It felt asif I was walking there again. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Incredibly beautiful photos – I just loved taking a moment to look at these. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Diane Ward says:

    I also have distant memories of school trips to BA- most enduring memory was – not to cross the Strid via stepping stones! Didn’t appreciate at the time the awesome wilderness of the woods. The pictures are a wonderful reminder of Yorkshire (been in RSA for 15 years)thanx. BTW you’re not the same Paul Steele that went to Alwoodley county primary are you!?

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Hi Diane, ahh the stepping stones yes 🙂 No i never went to that school I am afraid

  6. Dawn Stubbs says:

    Absolutely beautiful area of North Yorkshire. Great photographs and a treasure to visit time and time again. Thanks for sharing with us 😀 x

    1. Paul Steele says:

      And thank you Dawn for the words and support. Yes one of the few places I go time and time again 🙂 agree

  7. Jefferson Boggs says:


    Thank you for taking us with you during your escape around the ruins of Bolton Priory and through Strid Wood.

    You certainly did find beauty, peace, history, and a wide variety of nature!

    When visiting, I’ll watch for the benches. Great tip!

    Thanks again.


    1. Paul Steele says:

      Thanks for the kind words mate. cheers 🙂

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