17 sculptures we added to the circular walk around the grounds of
the priory in 2007. The walk is 3.5 miles around. It can be started
from the Strid car park or the Cavendish Pavilion. The sculptures
are dotted along the pathway, mostly on the western side of the River
History of Bolton Priory
Founded by Augustinian canons in 1154, the priory was built on the site of
an Old Saxon manor. The priests were gifted the land by Lady Alice de
Romille, who owned the nearby Skipton Castle. After hastily establishing an
initial shelter, the base stones of which can still be seen today, the priests
began to cultivate the land. Later they provided amenities for both
travellers and locals.
What to See at Bolton Abbey
There are literally dozens
of walks to be had in the vicinity. There are some interesting sights to look out
for on your walk.
- Strid Wood - an ancient forest.
- the Priest's House - constructed in 1515 and now
a charming restaurant.
- Barden Tower - restored ruins of a former hunting lodge for suppliers to Skipton Castle.
- Valley of Desolation - owes its name to a
great 19th-century storm which did desolate the area.
- Geology trail - runs through the valley, taking
visitors past its waterfalls, while dispensing vital knowledge of the area.
- Sculpture Trail - 17 sculptures by British artists along the walk
- Sandy beach - on the opposite side of the river to the priory
- Grounds around the priory - prime spots for picnicking.
Architecture and Construction
The Priory's construction was a lengthy affair. Not helped by Scottish invasions,
sickness and harsh winters. Work was still being carried out until the Dissolution
Monasteries in 1539.
Despite the inevitable decay of the rest of the
structure, much of the monastic layout is still present. Immediately
noticeable is the east gable, which has survived unscathed. It now stands as the
building's highest point at 55 feet (the 188 ft central tower having
collapsed some 200 years ago). The West Tower was destined to be even
larger. However, its construction was halted with the Dissolution and its
ruins now stand at a third of their intended height. The nave continues to serve as a
church to this day.
Inspiration for William Wordsworth
In the 19th century,
the grounds and the immediate area became a source of inspiration for
William Wordsworth. He used the cemetery, which adjoins both the eastern and
northern sides of the priory, as the setting for the poem The White Doe of
Rylstone, which is based on local legend.
The nearby village of Bolton Abbey is the last stop on the Embsay & Bolton
Abbey Steam Railway. Entry to both the church and the priory is free of
More info on Bolton Abbey