Bolton Abbey Things To Do

Bolton Abbey is situated in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, a short drive from Skipton in North Yorkshire. Like all the other abbeys in England, it was mostly destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries as ordered by Henry VIII. What remains of the abbey today are set in the most stunning countryside and if you’re feeling adventurous there are 60 stepping stones that cross the River Nidd.

Bolton Abbey Things To Do Review

There are acres and acres of parkland and woodland to explore. You could spend as little or as long as you like there. There are over 80 miles of footpaths to follow including a fun ‘Welly Walk’ family-friendly trail. Please note the Welly Walk runs from May half-term until October half-term.

The 12th-century Augustinian monastery is now known as Bolton Priory. It was closed in 1539 and it is located next to the village of Bolton Abbey. You only have to pay for parking (please see FAQ below for further information).

There are four car parks at Bolton Abbey. The Bolton Abbey car park is the main one and the best option if you are wanting to take in the abbey and stepping stones. There are toilets in the car park and a post office with a shop. There are also a couple of tea rooms. Bolton Abbey itself doesn’t have an official cafe but there are plenty of options in the local area.

It is easy, although not wheelchair accessible, to walk from the car park down to the abbey. We decided to explore the abbey later on and headed straight for the stepping stones. The water was flowing really fast and the river level was much higher than I was hoping it to be.

After much deliberation and watching other people getting their feet and legs wet we bottled going across. But that’s OK as there is a wooden bridge right next to the stepping stones so we used that and watched everyone else get wet. Sometimes the river isn’t very deep in the summer and the stones are much easier to cross but sadly not when we visited.

Bolton Abbey

You can see from the photo below how fast the water was flowing. I would have loved to have given it a go but I just didn’t feel confident enough as some steps were slightly under the water and others had quite a big stride to cross. Plus watching a few kids become rather unbalanced had put my son off. If you really want to give it a go I recommend some sturdy waterproof walking boots or even wellies.

Bolton Abbey Things To Do

Once over the other side, you have the start of the Welly Walk. This is a walk with lots of different family-friendly obstacles along the way. We didn’t make it all the way as we ran out of time. However, there is also currently a beach with a pirate ship to play on that’s in situ just for the summer and is located at the other end of the welly walk.

Although we didn’t need wellies for the walk it was at times a little muddy. The path isn’t very accessible and they recommend that you leave your pushchairs at home. There are some pretty steep bits and the trail is often very rough ground.

Bolton Abbey Things To Do
Bolton Abbey Things To Do

It’s a great trail for kids to gain confidence climbing and exploring. They have left all the signs requesting that only one family use each bit of equipment at one time. The trail leads from near the stepping stones up to the Cavendish Pavillion which is a great place to stop for an ice cream.

Bolton Abbey Things To Do
Bolton Abbey Things To Do

We made our way back to the abbey and explored the abbey ruin. It only takes a few minutes to look around and we did spend most of our time looking for the oldest gravestone we could find.

Bolton Abbey
Bolton Abbey

We then headed down to the water’s edge near the stepping stones and set off a trend by throwing pebbles into the river. If you cross the bridge, or the stepping stones, there is an area by the water that is accessible for a bit of paddling, although do take care as there are some deep sections.

Bolton Abbey
Bolton Abbey

It’s certainly a great place to bring a picnic and spend a few hours. We were pleased we’d booked lunch at the Devonshire Arms though as it started raining around lunch time and didn’t stop. The Devonshire Arms isn’t cheap but it’s a lovely sit down restaurant if you feel like treating yourselves.

Bolton Abbey is also a popular place to visit over Halloween half-term and to see Santa at Christmas time. They also hold other annual family-friendly events.

If you are looking for something else to do nearby we combined our day out with a 3pm ride on the Embsay and Bolton Abbey railway. This tourist steam train runs from the Embsay Station to the Bolton Abbey station although the station is a long walk from Bolton Abbey and when we visited that station wasn’t open to passengers, only Embsay.

Bolton Abbey FAQ & Further Information

Address: Bolton Abbey, Skipton BD23 6AL, North Yorkshire

Category – Great Outdoors – Walk – Outdoors – Suitable for all ages.

What are the ticket prices?

At Bolton Abbey you only pay for parking. Early bird parking costs £10 per car. (1 vehicle, up to 7 people). If you book on the day of your visit it costs £12.50. The Barden field car park costs more money.

What are the main facilities and things to do?

Historical abbey with stepping stones over a river, Welly Walk family-friendly obstacle course and walks. There are public toilets and places to purchase food and drinks.

When are they open?

Bolton Abbey is open almost all year round, the welly walk closes over the winter. For up-to-date information please visit their website.

Is there food available?

There are a number of places to purchase food and drinks in the village of Bolton Abbey.

Is there parking?

There is plenty of parking, charges apply. See above.

Are they dog friendly?

Dogs are welcome on a lead.

Are they accessible?


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