Cautiously stepping on the locally distinctive grey stepping stones placed in a perfectly straight line across the picturesque river Wharf you can hear the water currents swirl around the stones beneath your feet. Peering up you will see the dramatic ruins of Bolton Abbey – a priory founded in the early 12th century. It’s grand arches jutting out into the clear blue sky, provide wonders for the imagination. Glancing at the old arched stone window frames you can almost picture the intricate stain glass windows which would have been there as a focal point for the monks and nuns to look at everyday between their ritual prayers.
The green, lush, grand grounds the monks and nuns once roamed, some 10 centuries ago, would have served as a perfect place to quietly contemplate, pray or garden. While, the nuns grew and saw to their eclectic herbs in the well kept gardens, the monks would have read under the shade of one of the many old, uniquely knarled oak trees. In the evenings the inhabitants of Bolton Abbey would bath in the refreshing, crystal clear river. Of course nuns and monks would be delegated separate, cornered off, discrete sections of the river
When the time of the monks and nuns passed, the priory became a lively, vibrant and popular church attracting many locals in the Victorian era. It was then that the church tower was built.
The well renowned Bolton Abbey was focused on in one of William Wordsworth’s poems named: The White Doe of Rylstone (1807):
‘From Bolton’s old monastic tower, the bells ring loud with gladsome power, the sun is bright, the fields are gay, with people in their best array… ‘
Walking through the old Abbey and across its majestic grounds feels like waking back in time. If you close your eyes, you can almost hear the clip-clop of the horses hooves and the laughter of Victorian children as they play on the river banks.
Today, Bolton Abbey is open to the public, with lovely trails, little beaches on the river banks and plenty of places to paddle, swim or take quick dip in the river.
Tops for visiting Bolton Abbey
– There is plenty of parking (costing £8 per vehicle for the day with entrance for all those in the car). This enterance fee also includes a free cream tea at the cafe at the end of the trail.
-The cafes are rather pricey so you might want to bring a pack lunch and have a picnic. Alternately lots of people had disposable barbecues which are allowed in the car park.
– Bring a swim suit incase you fancy a dip (currents are quite strong so it’s not highly recommended). An inflatable dingy or kayak may be fun if you have one.
-Make a day of it and visit Skipton town for a nice pub lunch, mooch around the delightful, boutique shops, you can even check out Skipton castle while your in the area too.