Midge Walkers

Walk No. 119

Bolton Abbey Walk

Ever willing to please, our leader afforded the opportunity for anyone to request their previous favourite walk, which could then be undertaken as a mid-week special. The venue selected had been visited several years ago and clearly made, a favourable impact.

Wednesday 13th June was a reasonably warm day without being too hot, probably ideal for what was to follow and 9 of our members assembled in the Village car park of the Bolton Abbey Estate, ready for the off at 10.40. Passing down the main road (B6160) we branched left through a gate to follow a bridleway and across two gated fields, to enter a wooded area. Here the route took on a distinctly steeper upward course, emerging via a gate into a further series of fields and moorland, occupied by sheep with their young offspring.

A distinct hill ahead became our focal point, and having huffed a puffed our way to the top, took in the awesome 360 degree panoramic views of the valleys surrounding us. From our vantage point Lower Barden Reservoir was pointed out as our target for a lunch venue. Descending across the heather covered moors of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, we arrived at Barden Rd and followed a lane opposite, down towards the reservoir bank. There was little doubt that it had taken us considerably less time to descend, but the thought of lunch spurred us on as we had been walking for a full two hours.

Just prior to our stopping point, we became aware of a rabbit which had fallen into a sort of deep pit and unable to extract itself. Two of our number having first revived themselves, descended and managed to capture the stricken animal and release it back into the undergrowth to live another day. Whilst consuming lunch, we were educated as to some of the surrounding points of interest, which included Upper and Lower Barden Reservoirs, which provide water for Halifax, Barden Moor and Fell, Simons Seat and Carncliff Top.

Continuing around the reservoir and crossing over a couple of foot bridges, it was noted how low the water level was. The stony track eventually emerged on to a main road and after turning left, we passed the 12th century Barden Tower and Priest House, soon branching right soon to attain a path along the banks of the River Wharfe. This well maintained, undulating route took us through Strid Woods with the river continuing its course to our left and after 2.3 miles arrived at the Cavendish Pavilion, which provided another suitable coffee stop and resting point.

Crossing the bridge over the river and avoiding the route to the “Valley of Desolation”, we continued with the river now to our right along the path and through the woods, which at one point necessitated fording a stream, until the welcoming sight of the Priory ruins came into view. Dropping down to the river bank the alternatives of crossing by bridge or the 57 stepping stones caused a division in the camp, with only three males choosing the potential perils of the watery course, which they completed without incident. Passing the side of the ruins along the path, brought us back to the road adjacent to our starting point.

The description of “a splendid and sometimes dramatic walk” certainly lived up to its expectations and the £10 fee to park the car had probably seemed a bit steep to start with, but in the end, was judged to be well worth while, equating to less than a £1 per mile. Where else could you be entertained for in excess of 6 hours for that sort of money.

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