Bolton Abbey, Stepping Stones

Rory Calland
National Trust, Visit Cumbria, Bolton Abbey

Bolton Abbey is one of the most fulsomely preserved English monasteries and sits as Wordsworth wrote “along the banks of crystal Wharf”. The western half of the nave has never stopped being used as a church by the parish. Colourful spectacles inside such as the Pugin windows and the altar’s painted backdrop are in particularly good shape.

Less than a hundred yards from the priory are 60 stepping stones, marking a precarious route across the breadth of the river Wharf. These slippery steps once represented the Augustine lay workers commute, as it were. Now they’ve become a little challenge for visitors and are synonymous with Bolton Abbey itself.

This corner of Wharfdale, immortalised by JMW Turner, is a fantastic day out. After you’ve investigated the priory and seen what fascinating relics lie in store there, the grassy area around the stepping stones is perfect picnic territory. The stones themselves offer a challenge, but a touch northwards is a shallow beach, which is a wonderful spot for families to play and take a dip.

It’s amusing to picture monks bouncing expertly from one step to the next, but some of the gaps are not laughing matters. So do make peace with the possibility of getting wet. Once you are in though, there aren’t many better rivers across our Northern landscape for swimming than the Wharf. It’s a key artery of the Yorkshire Dales and wends its way through some very magical landscapes.

Be very cautious if you make your way northwards along the Wharf from here, as around two miles along the river narrows into a harmless looking stretch of water known as The Strid. The Strid is perhaps the most lethal river passage in the world to fall into, so be sure you know its whereabouts.

SkiptonNorth YorkshireBD23 6EX View map
Telephone: 01756718000 Visit Now

What's on near Bolton Abbey, Stepping Stones

a large mansion house surrounded by three blocks of colour
Until
ExhibitionsLeeds
Colours Uncovered at Harewood House

Explore colour through an amazing range of artefacts at ‘Colours Uncovered’, a new exhibition at Harewood House, from colour theory and pigment to classical painting and contemporary textiles. from £12.00

A still from Now, Voyager featuring Charlotte Vale played by Bette Davis.
CinemaLeeds
Now, Voyager at Cottage Road Cinema

Bette Davis stars as a wealthy young woman who escapes her domineering mother in this classic melodrama selected to show as part of Classics at the Cottage this June.

from £7.00
Ian Humphreys
LiteratureWest Yorkshire
Poetry at the Dusty Miller

Poetry at the Dusty Miller is a brand-new night with invited readers, organised by Carcanet-published Carola Luther and Judith Willson in the Coiners’ Room in the Mytholmroyd pub.

free entry
MusicHalifax
Pixies at The Piece Hall

Legendary American rock band Pixies are bringing their unmistakable and era-defining sound to The Piece Hall.

from £47.50

Where to go near Bolton Abbey, Stepping Stones

Skipton
Hesketh Farm Park

Hesketh Farm Park is the friendliest place with lots of animals to meet, things to play with and space for running around.

Ilkley
The Riverside Hotel

A superb, picturesque riverside setting, en suite rooms, bar and restaurant, The Riverside Hotel makes an excellent base for exploring the moors.

Ilkley Lido
Ilkley
Ilkley Lido

Incorporating a tennis courts and a bowling green, Ilkley Lido is a grade II listed outdoor pool, with a stunning view of the moors.

Ilkley Manor House
Ilkley
Museum
Ilkley Manor House

Visit the collection of Roman artefacts in one of the oldest buildings in Yorkshire, or host a particularly special occasion at Ilkley Manor House.

Ilkley
Restaurant
The Box Tree Restaurant

The Box Tree has been a vital step in many top chef’s careers, and with two Michelin stars to its name you can expect a meal to remember.

Bradford
Gallery
Tinker Gallery

Ilkley’s contemporary art gallery, set up by artist Joanne Tinker, is a studio space in combination with a gallery.

Bradford
Theatre
Ilkley Playhouse

The Playhouse has a well established season of productions, also used as a venue for events, including the popular Ilkley Literature Festival.

Ilkley
Bed & Breakfast
The Crescent Inn

The Crescent Inn is a comfortable and cosy, pub style bed and breakfast that takes pride in championing local goods.

Ilkley
Cinema
Ilkley Cinema

Ilkley Cinema combines relaxed and sociable spaces, state of the art screening technology, and a great programme of indies.

Grove bookshop
Ilkley
Shop
Grove Bookshop

Grove Bookshop has been an integral part of Ilkely town centre for decades, feeding the town’s enthusiasm for literature.

Culture Guides

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Cinema in Manchester and the North

From the latest installment in the Mad Max franchise, to silent movie masterpieces we highlight the best new releases and big screen classics showing near you this month.