Bolton Abbey, Simon’s Seat and Wharfedale


Last Sunday the weather forecast was promising so we decided to drive over to Bolton Abbey and go for a walk. It’s only about 80 minutes drive, but we hadn’t been there for quite some time. Bolton Abbey Estate is owned by the Devonshire Estate, best known for Chatsworth in Derbyshire, and they’re very commercially savvy, so charge a relatively hefty £8 flat fee for parking.  Reasonable if you’re stopping for the day I guess, but a little hefty for a short visit. But the car parks on the estate were busy, so I guess it’s a case of supply and demand.

In the past we’d done the circular walk from the Abbey around the river through Strid Wood and back, but this time we decided to try a more challenging walk taking a route over the moors to Simon’s Seat returning along the river.

The route description and map is available on the Bolton Abbey website. It starts from the Cavendish Lodge car park but we decided to lengthen it a little by setting out from near the old ruined Abbey. About 10 or 11 miles in total passing through varying countryside – a pleasant river valley, woodland and peat moorland.



We walked past the Abbey ruins and crossed the river. The old stepping stones were closed as a number had been washed away by the winter floods so we had to use the bridge (If I’m honest, we would have anyway as crossing by the stones is a little hairy at the best of times!)


We followed the path along the river to just past the Cavendish Pavilion bridge and then cut in land taking the path to Waterfall Cottage


Then we went through the Gate heading towards “The Valley of Desolation”.




The rather tranquil valley was given it’s rather ominous name following a damaging flood in the 19th Century


The path, climbing steadily, then led us through some woodland


and then on to the open moor.


We crossed the moor which is dotted with outcrops of millstone grit.


The path got a little rough undefoot


Finally we reached Simon’s Seat, a collection of gritstone boulders


Cloud had come in obscuring the sun and it had become rather chilly but we stopped for a while to take in the dramatic views over Wharfedale and beyond.



Then we set off back over boggy moorland


Eventually te path took us down into woodland


and into the valley


We took the footpath following the rive back downstream.


through pleasant pastoral countryside.




Eventually we reached Barden Bridge and the start of Strid Woods.


Here the river passes through a rocky gorge, becoming narrower, deeper and faster. The Strid, after which the woods are named, is a particularly narrow, turbulent and infamous section of the river.


Eventually we reached the Cavendish Pavilion where we stopped for a re-energising coffee.


We followed the river back towards the Abbey


We stopped for a little while to explore the ruins


and then through the village to the car park ready to drive home.



6 thoughts on “Bolton Abbey, Simon’s Seat and Wharfedale

  1. Thank you, I really enjoyed the walk and Abbey, haven’t been there for more years than I care to remember, and it wouldn’t have been £8 to park 🙂

  2. You chose a good day for that longish walk. But somehow Bolton Abbey looks good most times of year and in most weathers. Nice to have the views from Simon’s Seat. Although I avoid the full parking charge by visiting out of season I guess the cash goes towards upkeep of the footpaths and estate.

    • You’re certainly right. It was your post from earlier this year about your winter walk that made me think we should re-visit. So I guess it was your felt I felt tierd on Monday morning! 😉.
      As for car parking I think it’s a fair price for a day’s parking, and, as you say, they do have to maintain the grounds, paths and facilities. It costs more than that in central Manchester, for example. But the flat fee makes it expensive for a short stay. But I guess they might want to discourAge short stays as parking is limited.

  3. wow what a lovely walk, a bit long for me….I can just about manage half those miles. I enjoyed doing it from my arm chair though!

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