Bolton Abbey is in the North Yorkshire Dales on the banks of the River Wharfe and is a great place to visit. It has ample space to run around, ruins to see, a river to splash about in with a beach area and great ice-cream available at the water’s edge. There are several walks which can be enjoyed and you can also enjoy the challenge of crossing the river over the 60 stepping stones (which are stepping stones which were originally used as the crossing point by the lay workers from the Priory.)
Ah, the stepping stones...When we went on our first visit to Bolton Abbey, we could see many people crossing the river via the stepping stones. There were also dogs going across and The Child was desperate to have a go. Sure, why not? I headed off with The Child and The Dog to the stepping stones and The Husband said he would go over the bridge and meet us on the other side.
The first few steps were OK. Easy Peasy, we all jumped from one to the next without problem. However, I reckon about half way, we hit a snag. The next stone was slightly further away than all the others had been. The Child bricked it and absolutely refused to move. I could’ carry him as I still had The Dog in tow. I tried encouragement, bribery – nothing doing, The Child was NOT MOVING. By this time quite a queue of people had built up behind us and there was no way we could turn back. However, in the time it had taken us to have our encouragement and bribery conversation, the people in front had made it to the other side so the way forward was clear. The Husband, taking a break from sniggering to himself came back towards us and managed to retrieve The Child.
All good, then – but alas no. The Dog at this point also bricked it and decided she too was NOT MOVING. She was clinging onto her stone for dear life. It reminded me of the scene from Dumbo the elephant I think, where Dumbo is at the top of his tower and they are trying to persuade him to fly and he is teetering at the top refusing to budge. By now, the queue was stretching back onto the bank – The Dog couldn’t be carried, she was too heavy, there was only one option, she was going to have to swim...
At this point in time, I did not know if she could swim or not. She had paddled a bit in the sea but never really got out of her depth. I could see that the water in the river at the point was probably around my bottom height so I knew that worst case, I could go in after her. I had to forcibly push her off her stone and the wide-eyed look of horror on her face as she fell into the water - poor Dog. Well, it turns out she can’t swim very well but she is actually very good at floating.
She just bobbed on the surface of the water, floating motionless, still attached to the lead. She now had a relieved look on her face though – it clearly was not as bad as she had feared and she seemed to find this floating thing actually quite pleasant. There was no attempt whatsoever to doggy paddle or manoeuvre herself towards the shore. I had to try and steer her with the lead, whilst trying not to fall off the stones myself. By this time, there was quite a crowd of people on the bridge sniggering and pointing at the foolish lady and her floating dog. She did eventually get a foothold and we both made it to the safety of the other bank, much to the disappointment of The Child and The Husband who I think would have found it the funniest thing ever if I would have fallen in.
Anyway, the steeping stones are good fun but be aware if you have smaller children or a dog. We sat on the banks afterwards to eat an ice-cream and saw quite a few people coming unstuck.
Bolton Abbey gets a big tick from me and a big tick from The Child. ✔️ ✔️
There are several tea rooms and cafes to go at or you can take a picnic to have on the river banks. There is a shallow beach area on the far bank where children can splash about. There is the village car park at the top with only about a 5 minute walk to get down to the river, be aware it can get very busy in peak season. We were staying at Masons Campsite when we visited Bolton Abbey - about 20 minutes drive away.