Last month was my birthday, and as always I wanted to celebrate with a special day with my family. A lot of things weren’t fully open near us, but thankfully I don’t mind driving that little bit further for special occasions. It turns out Bolton Abbey was the perfect place to visit.
Beauty in the Yorkshire Dales
Bolton Abbey is a ruined abbey in the Yorkshire dales. Its a massive estate with lots of walking trails, cafes and great areas for sitting and relaxing. The abbey and the stepping stones are what I wanted to go for but after we’d made the decision to go, I discovered the Valley of Desolation and knew I’d made the right decision.
The abbey is beautiful and honestly huge. Its size blew me away and although a lot of it is no longer there. Though there is a place of worship there still. Spike loved playing on the ruins, balancing on the walls and would have been happy staying there. But we wanted to go on the stepping stones and for a walk. So we went on our way after a bite to eat (picnic brought from home) and an ice cream from the conveniently placed kiosk near the abbey.
The stepping stones at Bolton Abbey
I didn’t actually get to go on the stepping stones. I walked over the bridge while Spike and her daddy walked on them and I got pics! Spike loves stepping stones and these ones were extra special because there was a lot of them! T said they were further apart than they first seemed and at one point he had to step in the water to help Spike over. But they both enjoyed them! I loved the backdrop that the abbey provides and the view across the estate from the bridge.
Our walk to Cavendish Pavilion
We went from the stepping stones up to Cavendish Pavilion and managed to do a little bit of the estate’s Welly Walk. Most of this was closed due to restrictions when we visited but the log stepping trail was open and Spike loved that. Its since reopened and I want to go back to do the rest of the welly walk with her! After that there was a lot of up and down hills in the woodland. Spike loved the amazing Money Tree to be seen too!
The Pavilion is a cafe and toilets at the end of the Riverside Car Park. You could easily park here and go down to the Abbey. Or go up to the Valley of Desolation if you don’t want to walk 6 miles like we did. It makes a great spot for a picnic. There are lots of places for little ones to splash at the edge of the water and fish with nets here. We stopped for a drink as it was about 25 degrees the day we went and the drinks were reasonably priced too.
The valley of Desolation
We continued our walk up to the Valley of Desolation because I knew there was a gorgeous waterfall to be seen up there. I would have loved to continue our walk and go all the way to Simons seat. But the weather and the fact we’d already walked a really long way put us off a bit! The walk to the waterfall was fun and adventurous for Spike, especially going down into the valley to see it up close! We’ll have to go back to do Simon’s Seat!
I’d say that there’s easily a few days worth of exploring to be had at Bolton Abbey Estate. We only saw half of it and some of that was rushed because we ran out of time. Plus there are lots of picturesque spots to stop and relax and we didn’t get much chance to do that!
Getting to Bolton Abbey from Lancaster
We are lucky where we live to have so much wonderful countryside around us. It does mean that to get anywhere we usually have to hit a national park or two! Driving to Bolton Abbey was no different with us leaving Lancaster to go straight into the Trough of Bowland and then skirt the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The estate is near Skipton in North Yorkshire and its a beautiful location.
Bolton Abbey’s current logistics
You don’t pay for Bolton Abbey Estate as such, you pay for parking and get admission for your day there. We parked in the Village car park and walked over to the main entrance. There is a bookshop separate to the estate there which I’m gutted we didn’t get chance to go to. But once in the estate the size of the abbey and the grounds really hit you. You walk down the hill towards the abbey and the river that runs through the estate and its stunning. There were social distancing measures put in place throughout the estate. We felt really safe almost all the way round our walk. There were spots in the woods that it was harder to keep distanced but we managed well.
Definitely going back!
We’ll definitely be back to Bolton Abbey one day. There are lots of places around North Yorkshire I want to visit as despite growing up close to there, we rarely explore it. Maybe we could factor it into a school holiday one day soon!