BOLTON Abbey is one of the best examples of a ‘dissolved’ abbey, sitting beautifully on the banks of the River Wharfe. The walk described takes in the abbey and some of the lovely wooded path along the banks of the river. It is all in the Bolton Abbey estate.

I prefer starting this walk by parking at the large car park at the Cavendish Pavilion. The price you pay at any of the car parks is the same. From the car park walk initially alongside the river, heading towards the abbey, ie down river, until the path leaves the river at a small gate.

The River Wharfe (meaning swift) is already an impressive river when it reaches Bolton Abbey, but it still has a long way to travel before reaching the North Sea, via the River Ouse, at the Humber estuary. The path then crosses an open field. From the river path a sign suggests crossing the field by your own route to preserve the grass.

Some steps lead up to the Memorial Fountain near the road that travels through the estate. Here are some lovely views across the river towards Simon’s Seat. At the memorial turn left and follow the road for 100 metres around the bend in the river and take the footpath on the left which leads directly to the abbey ruins.

In strict terms the ruins are from a ‘priory’ and not an ‘abbey’, the distinction is more to do with the politics at the time. The priory was led only by a ‘prior’. However, the ruins of the priory are highly impressive and it is worth taking time to explore them. You can wander freely through it.

From the abbey walk down to the footbridge that crosses the Wharfe on one of the numerous well maintained paths. Just upstream of the bridge are the 60 stepping stones which offer more of a challenge on a river crossing. They were originally put in place for the lay workers of the priory to cross the river. I have no idea how they crossed the river after heavy rains and even today they should not be used when the water covers the stones.

A small beach on the far bank offers a great place to stop and view the priory, in the summer it is heaving with people, many having a dip in the river…probably not now. From the beach climb a short distance up the footpath that skirts the eastern banks of the river and in to the woods.

The following 500 metres (1/3 of a mile) are a delight as the path undulates through some attractive woodlands of birch, oak and mountain ash. One notable site is the Money Tree (or trees), where old coins have been pushed in to the tree trunks over many years. The most plausible theory is passer bys used the tree as a wishing tree and received a wish for every coin and it just became a habit over the years. Don’t pull them out, though, this brings bad luck.

The path drops to a tributary stream where there is a viewing platform with good views up and down the river. From the stream continue heading north alongside the river to a large wooden bridge, cross the bridge back to the Cavendish Pavilion and your car.

Fact box:

Distance: Roughly 2.5 miles

Height to Climb: 80m (260 feet).

Start: SE 078551. There is plenty of parking by the river at the Cavendish Pavilion. I prefer this start to the main car park as you enter Bolton Abbey estate. The high charge includes the walk itself and access to the abbey.

Difficulty: Easy: Good footpaths and a short distance makes this a straightforward walk whatever the weather.

Refreshments: The café at Cavendish Pavilion offers drinks and lunches (subject to Covid, please check).

Be Prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL2) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.

Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company in the Yorkshire Dales:

• He has published 2 books on the Dales, ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’ and ‘The Dales 30’ mountains. Available direct from the Where2walk website.

• Book a Navigation Training day (Beginners or Intermediates) in 2022. Dates and information on the website.

• Where2walk also run Navigation weekends in the Dales and the ‘3 Peaks in 3 Days’ guided walks. Full details also on the website

Jonathan’s popular website, also features 100’s of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs