From: Bolton Abbey
Parking: Parking at Bolton Abbey
Start Point: Bolton Abbey
Region: Yorkshire Dales
Route length: 7.2 miles (11.6km)
Time taken: 03:40
Average speed: 2mph
Points of interest: Barden Tower, The Strid, Bolton Priory
Route: Bolton Abbey, Bolton Hall, West Bank Wood, Little Hare Head, Middle Hare Head, Hare Head Side, Broad Park Bridge, Barden Scale, Barden Tower, Barden Bridge, Holme House, The Strid, Strid Wood, Wooden Bridge, Dales Way, Bolton Priory, Bolton Abbey
The River Wharfe flows though some of the finest scenery in the country, and almost certainly among the most picturesque in the Yorkshire Dales. As it meanders its way through the valley of Langstrothdale, it passes a number of the high 2000ft peaks that the Dales have to offer, gaining volume thanks to the significant number of shake-hole sourced streams that flow into it. As it flows into Wharfedale, it crosses over two sets of waterfalls, the impressive outcrops at Linton and the focal point of this walk, a dramatic narrowing at The Strid before snaking its way to the impressive Bolton Priory.
Admittedly, all of the above excitement arrives during the second half of the walk, so I won't dwell too much on the first bit but that does not necessarily mean that it will fly totally under the radar.
As much of this walk is in the grounds of Bolton Abbey, we had to pay an entrance fee that also covered the cost to park the car in the official car park; the ideal place for the start of this circular walk. I'm sure that if you approached the route from a different direction (from the north perhaps) you could avoid paying the fee. Otherwise, this walk starts with a quick walk along the road, through the arch, before heading left up a track towards Bolton Hall and Westy Bank Wood.
|The large-car worrying arch at Bolton Abbey|
|The path heading towards Westy Bank Wood|
After negotiating the wood, a long 3km climb reaches out over the moorland to a trio of humps; High Hare Head, Little Hare Head and the largest of the three, Middle Hare Head. It is this section of the walk, and the descending arm back down the road to Barden that is fairly devoid of features so, sit back (so to speak), relax and enjoy simply being out in the fresh air of the countryside. It is possible to extend this walk to visit Barden Reservoir thus avoiding a large proportion of the road down to Barden Tower.
|A splendid day in the Yorkshire Dales|
|Barden Tower in the distance|
|Climbing one of the Hare Heads|
|The expansive Yorkshire Dales|
We had to cross the picturesque Barden Bridge to join the Dales Way as it hugs the banks of the River Wharfe before crossing again shortly downstream. We'd reached the beginnings of Strid Wood, home to The Strid.
The Strid gets its name from the Anglo Saxon 'Stryth' meaning Turmoil or Tumult. This gives you a clue to the impressive nature of the feature, a narrowing of the River Wharfe through a tight, rocky chasm causing the waters to foam and froth in anger as they are squeezed through. The name has since been corrupted into Strid, from the possibility of being able to stride across the channel, though this is not recommended as it can be very slippery and is often wider than it seems.
|The River Wharfe prior to entering Strid Wood|
|The narrow confines reduce to around 2m|
|The narrowness finally abates|
|Bolton Priory seen through the trees|
|A large footbridge crosses the Wharfe|
|Amazing how wide the Wharfe returns to a short distance from The Strid|
|The ruins of Bolton Priory|
|One of those pesky pumpkins|
|The impressive main arch|