The stepping stones at Bolton Abbey

Bolton Abbey and The Strid

Walk Summary

A lovely circular riverside and woodland walk from Bolton Abbey to The Strid via Cavendish Pavilion. We did this one midweek to avoid the crowds on what is a justifiably popular area.

Distance: 6 miles
Total ascent: 1340ft
Walk Rating: *****
Parking: Car Park, Bolton Abbey
Route: Download Route [GPX]

Photo Gallery

Walk Report

Having both taken the day off to celebrate my wife’s birthday we wanted to pick a shortish walk to enjoy with our dog which would let us get home in plenty of time for our daughter finishing school. It had been 2-3 years since we’d last been to Bolton Abbey and with it being mid-week we thought it would be a good time to go back and avoid the crowds.

With options for walks of varying lengths and different parking areas to choose from we decided to start at the Bolton Abbey car park itself and walk upstream to The Strid via the Cavendish Pavillion resulting in a very stretched figure of eight walk.

"This loop eventually returned to the main path and soon we arrived at The Strid. Here the river is compressed by rocks on either side of the river into a narrow channel."

No matter how many times I’ve been to Bolton Abbey I always get a thrill to cross the road and pass through the hole in the wall to get a view of the river and priory. Walking down to the river I decided to cross by the stepping stones whilst Lisa and Barry went over the bridge. They beat me to the other side and before I could get across Barry leapt into the river to swim over to me. Whilst he always likes to have a paddle in a stream or river this was the first time he’d swum – and it wasn’t going to be the last time on this walk!

Having crossed the river we took the path heading up the east bank of the river. Since my last visit this section has been turned into a ‘Wellie Walk’ for kids with a number of activity installations along the way, the best being a giant squirrel dray. Having climbed up above the river and then back down again there was a pleasant section of riverbank walking before reaching the bridge at the Cavendish Pavilion.

Crossing over the bridge we stayed for a short while on the main path heading towards The Strid before taking a lower loop that moved back down to the river. Here we found a small beach area where Barry had another paddle and another swim. This loop eventually returned to the main path and soon we arrived at The Strid. Here the river is compressed by rocks on either side of the river into a narrow channel. This was definitely not a spot for our dog or anyone else to get into the water. The water is very deep here and there are whirlpools and underground currents that have led to fatalities.

Whilst I’m also respectful of the dangers The Strid provides it is still a scenic spot made even more so on this occasion by the amount of harebell growing on the limestone rocks above the river.

To return we took a higher path climbing up to a covered seating area. We continued along this upper path before it descended fairly steeply to return us to the Cavendish Pavilion where we stopped for a bite to eat. The forecast for the day had been dull cloud and that is how it had started but by now the sun had come out which was an unexpected treat.

The return to the priory was a simple case of the following the large parking area to its end and then taking the path up to the memorial fountain. Along the way I was able to get some good long distance shots of Bolton Priory. Rather than returning directly to the car we crossed the river again to visit the pebble beach just upstream of the stepping stones where Barry enjoyed a final swim in very scenic surrounds.