WITH recent inclement weather this is a good choice for a short walk - four-and-a-half miles.

It is reasonably flat, in beautiful woodland set alongside the River Wharfe. The paths are well maintained and for those who want an extra mile will bring you to the ruins of Bolton Abbey.

Opposite the Cavendish Pavilion (a café) next to the car park cross the bridge over the River Wharfe to the far/east bank. Turn left and join an excellent path heading upstream and soon enter a lovely area of woodland, so characteristic of the estate. Of particular interest is the Laund Oak Trees, the oldest reputed to be 700-years-old, which are the natural habitat for a range of rare fauna and flowers. It is protected as an area of Special Scientific Significance and a lovely area to walk through.

After three quarters of a mile the route passes The Strid, reputedly one of the most dangerous stretches of river in England due to the undercurrents, underwater vortexes and unusual rock formation.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Map of the area around The Strid Map of the area around The Strid (Image: Jonathan Smith)

Keep your distance and do not attempt ‘The Stride’ across the waters from where the name the Strid is derived.

The Strid is impressive to look at however and certainly after recent wet weather is very powerful.

From the Strid the path continues close to the river until it merges with the Long Distance Footpath of the Dales way at a stone packhorse style bridge. Continue past the bridge in to empty fields before arriving at Bardon Bridge and Bardon Tower.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The impressive Bardon Tower The impressive Bardon Tower (Image: Jonathan Smith)

At this point cross the road bridge, head up the road for a few metres and enter the grounds of the now derelict Bardon Tower. Originally an old hunting lodge, Henry Clifford, a staunch Lancastrian restored the building impressively in the late 15th century after the Battle of Bosworth raised the Tudors to power.

A tower rather than a castle, Henry Clifford loved its rural outlook and added a second building, the Priest's House in 1515. Lady Anne Clifford restored the Tower in 1659 but sadly it fell in to neglect in the following century and has never recovered, but as part of a walk it offers an interesting aside and a great picnic spot, with views north in to the rougher dales and across the river to Simon’s Seat.

Return to the river and follow the opposite (west bank) from whence you came. The path soon re-enters the woodland and heads south downstream.

There is a choice of paths within the woodland, all in good condition but some sticking closer to the river than others. The Strid looks even less enticing from this side!

Have a look for the heron or kingfisher clinging to the banks of the river. The woods finally open up back at the Cavendish Pavilion, a café with a gift shop.

However, if you would like to extend the walk continue for one mile through the car park to the ruins of Bolton Abbey.

* Fact Box:

Distance: Roughly four miles.

Height to Climb: 30m (100 feet)

Start: SE 079550. The Cavendish car park is part of the Bolton Abbey Estate.

Difficulty: Easy. The paths are excellent throughout the Bolton Abbey estate.

Refreshments: The Cavendish Pavilion is a café offering snacks and drinks but do check it is open as winter bears down on us.

Be Prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer OL2) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.

* Jonathan runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales. He has published three books on walking in the Dales; ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’, ‘The Dales 30’ mountains and the ‘Walks without Stiles’ book. All these books (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website.

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