Bolton Abbey, on the River Wharfe in Yorkshire Dales, is a tourist magnet and rightly so. It is a stunningly beautiful place with an awful lot to see and do if you, like us, enjoy the great outdoors. This past weekend we visited for the first time in rather a long time.
Disclaimer: We were invited by the Bolton Abbey Estate to visit in return for some coverage on my Instagram feed. While a blog post wasn’t part of the agreement I’ve chosen to write one anyway because why wouldn’t I?
The 20th June 2010 is not exactly a date that sticks in my mind. Yes, it was a month before Verity was born but that’s about it. But this is the date of our last visit to Bolton Abbey. The girls were much littler and we only had 3 of them as Verity was still snuggled up inside Helen’s tummy.
What did we get up to?
The family cycle zone
New this year is the family cycle zone at Bolton Abbey. This cool space, complete with level crossing, is adjacent to the main car park at Bolton Abbey.
After hearing about the family cycle zone we decided to take Delilah and Verity’s bikes for them to try this out. This did mean we didn’t take the dogs though. Don’t worry, Lydia had a split shift at work so she stayed home with them. The joys of being a teenager with a job mean sometimes you miss out on a family day.
We almost didn’t bring the bikes after a problem with the light board and the tow bar socket. In the end, we sorted it and thus Delilah and Verity were able to spend a good while riding around the grass roads. They seemed to enjoy themselves.
Picnic by the river
The River Wharfe runs through the Bolton Abbey estate. Getting down there is easy from the main car park, and you might just catch the curious sight of a bus driver reattaching his buses wing mirror. I overheard him explaining to one concerned looking passenger that he has to take it off as the bus is too wide to fin through the archways.
We walked through a gate in a high wall to be greeted to a fantastic view of the abbey and river below.
We pitched up for a picnic right on the riverbank. Despite there being plenty of folk around, we had no problem with space – there’s just loads of it.
Sowe ate, Helen read and we played in the river with the fishing nets the girls picked up from the gift shop back at the car park.
They were adamant they saw a lobster in there. But, without any evidence of pink crustaceans, I came to the conclusion (after some Googling) that it might have been a crayfish.
After lunch, we decided to move further upstream towards the famous stepping stones.
The Bolton Abbey stepping stones
If you’ve ever heard of Bolton Abbey you probably know about the stepping stones. You’ve most likely seen a photo of them, even if you didn’t realise it was the ones crossing the River Wharfe.
There was quite a queue to get across the stepping stones. So Helen and I went across the bridge and she waited there. I went back to join the girls for our very slow crossing. There was a person on every stone and it took some time due to parents helping some rather small children across.
It’s actually hard than it may seem. Some stones are further apart than other, they slope and one was even just under the water. But, we made it across safely to the other side where we headed for the beach.
Relaxing on the beach
Yes, you read right. There is a fantastic beach on a bend in the river upstream of the stepping stones.
On a summer day, this is an idyllic spot to lay back and relax. Sitting in the shadow on the imposing abbey ruins while the girls played in the water was, perhaps, the highlight of the day.
Alas, we couldn’t spend all day sitting on the beach. With a 90-minute drive home and the fact we’d started to feel hungry we decided it was time to move on.
We slowly made our way back towards the car park, taking the bridge this time. The “system” on the stepping stones was definitely one-way.
Shops and cafes
There’s no shortage of places to quench your thirst or feed your hunger at Bolton Abbey. I do believe there are no less than 10 eateries to choose from.
We decided to grab a drink and a slice of cake from Tea Cottage. This eatery boasts a fantastic view of the abbey, river and surrounding area.
We grabbed a photo of the girls and the view before moving on.
There’s a fantastic little second-hand bookshop on the green and we couldn’t resist browsing. There’s something about the smell of an old book shop that I find so alluring.
Finally, after the book shop where we did actually buy a book, we visited the gift shop that doubles as a post office.
Gift shops are magnets to kids, aren’t they? Once the obligatory notebooks, pens, the slinky and recycled wool blanket had been purchased we were on our way.
A day at Bolton Abbey
There’s no entry fee at Bolton Abbey, but there is only their car parks to use and the rate is fixed at £10 per day. I’d say this represents really good value. If you are planning on visiting often then the season pass may be for you. This is £90, but in addition to parking, you also get 10% off in many of the shops and cafes and well as one person riding free on the steam railway (we didn’t do that so I can’t comment further.
So, if you around the Yorkshire Dales – give Bolton Abbey a visit and see one of the jewels in Yorkshire crown.
Thanks for reading.