When the email dropped into my Inbox I was immediately excited. It was many years since I’d been to Bolton Abbey, in the Yorkshire Dales, but I knew it had a special location. An invitation to walk there in the company of some of my Algarve walking friends was a real cause for excitement.
I should explain. In the Eastern Algarve there are 2 complimentary groups of walkers, dubbed the Strollers and the Striders. The first ambles in a highly social way, with plenty of coffee stops. The second covers the ground much more swiftly, in order to reach the goal of a substantial meal. You can belong to either, or both, depending on your ability. They are equally welcoming and a very nice bunch of people overall. One thing they have in common is that they don’t walk in the hot Algarve summer months. Many return to the UK, and that is how this walk came about. I felt privileged to be a part of their first ever English walk together.
Meeting at the Cavendish Pavilion, we exchanged hugs and kisses before a quick catch up of news, over coffee. The weather was much as it has been for most of this summer, and we all carried waterproofs. Time to start out, before the skies opened.
The walk neatly follows the River Wharfe, dipping and rising through Strid Wood, a glimmer of sunshine sparkling on the water from time to time. It’s life affirming stuff, in one of the county’s greatest beauty spots, of which there are many.
The river chuckles along and we pause for a group photo, happy to capture the moment. A bench made from a felled tree has been liberally ornamented with coins. We are approaching The Strid, the focal point of this walk.
The Strid gets its name from an Anglo Saxon word, stryth, meaning turmoil. The river suddenly narrows, forcing the water through under great pressure. The Strid was formed from the wearing of softer rock by the circular motion of small stones in hollows. It might be a stride too far to cross over at this point, and certainly dangerous when the water is high.
Strid Wood, with its sessile oak trees, wraps around us. As we head towards the Aqueduct the rain begins to fall. The oaks provide shelter until it lightens again, tree ferns and wizened stone faces looking on.
The Aqueduct is another interesting feature of this walk. The castellations hide the pipes that carry water from the reservoirs at the top of Nidderdale down to the cities of West Yorkshire.
It enables us to cross to the other side, shortening our walk a little. We don’t get too wet, but miss out on Barden Tower and the prospect of more coffee, and possibly cake, at the Priest House. Yes, I can hear you sighing! Another time!
Damp seats don’t have much appeal but I love the twisted, enduring trees and down below, the gurgling of the river. Before too long we’re crossing the bridge back to Cavendish Pavilion, and the prospect of a meal and a sit down.
We sit outside initially, but soon abandon fresh air for dryness inside and, as the heavens open, are glad that we have. We are still optimistic and, sure enough, the skies brighten so that we can undertake the short walk across the field to the Abbey.
The 30,000 acre Bolton Abbey estate is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. At its heart stand the Priory church and the ruins of an Augustinian priory. From 1154 until 1539 the canons lived and worshipped here. The church survived the dissolution of the monasteries and functions still. It maintains a wonderful atmosphere.
I wandered the grounds, captive in the angles of aged stone. Almost unnoticed the sun sneaked in to blaze glory on the scene.
We debated amongst ourselves to see if any one of us would brave the stepping stones. In the event, the icecream van won the day, and we watched the antics on the river, before safely crossing over the bridge.
One final uphill endeavour past the Welly Walk, a childrens’ adventure trail, and we were safely back to base. Hugs, smiles and ‘let’s do it again next year, shall we?’ I think we might! It just remains to give thanks to our wonderful organisers, Peter and Sandie.
Many thanks for your company on another of my ramblings. I hope you enjoyed it. Details of how to get there are on the Bolton Abbey website. As many of you read this I shall be thundering towards Shropshire so expect me to be tardy in my responses. I will be back on Wednesday evening, and hope to catch up with you all then. Meantime, put the kettle on and enjoy!
All the way to Israel with Lisa for my first share :
Going north with Marion to a cool and interesting part of the world :
Kitzbuhel and that magical part of Austria has long been on my list, so thanks Lady Lee!
More rambling in style, with Jackie :
What more can I say about the war graves? Woolly says it better :
Meg has set up a great tradition of Wordless walks. Join her for a stroll?
Can’t beat a bit of adventure up on the moors! Come and meet Mackenzie :
Have you noticed, Drake is good at telling ghost stories? Must be his Danish heritage :
Isn’t life strange? Here I am, heading for Shropshire, and what does Becky find?
And even better, six delightful words on her other blog :
Join me next time on Jo’s Monday walk? Have a great week!