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Published March 4th 2016
Picnics, Ruins, Ancient Graveyards, Money Trees and More
Dating back to the 12th Century and located between Skipton and Harrogate in Wharfdale, North Yorkshire is the amazing Bolton Abbey Estate. The Estate is vast and encompasses 33,000 acres with six distinct areas designated as sites of special scientific interest.
Of the three car parks available, arriving at the Priory Church car park, you could be forgiven for thinking you have found the Tardis, albeit the wrong colour. However, amongst the many businesses here, there is also an operational post office for you to purchase and send post cards home.
Of particular interest is Bolton Priory Church and Ruins. In the heart of the Estate lies the operational church and ruins of an Augustinian Priory. The Priory was gifted to the Augustinian canons in 1154, where they lived and worshipped until 1539 following the passing of the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries Act by Henry the VIII in 1536. Of great saviour however is Prior Moone, the last Prior of the Abbey, who is said to have struck a deal with Cromwell to save the nave as a place of worship and there it still stands today as part of an operational church with a thriving local community.
In the grounds of the Priory is the ancient graveyard. There is something fascinating but macabre about meandering through ancient graveyards, unless of course you are an avid historian or family researcher. Imagine my delight when I found a family surname here. In the front of the photo below notice the headstone for Elizabeth and Ernest Wallbank. My family is from nearby Blackburn, Lancashire not far from here, and Wallbank is a family surname. I am yet to discover whether or not I have a family connection to Elizabeth and Earnest.
The many easy walking paths through the estate are a delight and very relaxing to wander along. Strid Wood hugs the banks of the river Wharfe and is amass with flora and fauna. If you are lucky you will see the bluebells flower in late April and early May, which is closely followed by wild garlic in bloom. The wood is home to roe deer, otters, kingfisher and the greater spotted woodpecker.
The stepping stones, which are still in place today, are an ancient right of way and were the crossing point for Priory workers. There are 60 stepping stones over which you can cross the river, providing fun and challenge. There is also a bridge for a drier passage across, and from which you can quite happily view the fast flow of the peat filled water. If not seen before, the water which is the colour of tea, is fascinating to observe as it peaks and flows over the underlying rocks.
As you wander along the paths, there is much to see which will fascinate. Just along from the stepping stones and bridge and through the woodland you will find fallen trees laden with coins. The first tree fell in the late 1980's during a night of great wind. At the time, the Estate made the fallen tree safe and left it for nature to take its path, providing valuable habitat for creatures. Over time, the trees have become money or wishing trees. Believed to be from pagan origins, people force money into small cracks in the wood, to relieve themselves of any illness they are suffering.
There is much here to delight people of all ages and the Estate regularly runs events all year round and includes activities for special dates. From Easter Egg Hunts to Father Christmas, the Welly Walk and the Pumpkin Trail, the Estate ensures that there are family events occurring throughout the year. Please go to the website for details.