The first good thing about a trip from Manchester to Bolton Abbey is the journey. This Yorkshire tourist trap had been on my to-do list for a while; I’ve been to Skipton, but never made it the extra five minutes. The scenery changes en route from the stark hills of the Rossendale countryside to the bucolic loveliness of Pendle and the Dales, where the vivid green hills and cotton wool lambs look like they’ve come straight from an illustration in one of CJ’s picture books. What her books don’t have though is muck spreading tractors, with a resultant pong that could clear your sinuses and strip the back of your throat with one inhalation. Important lessons in country life for our daughter. Wind the window up.
There are several car parks on the estate, but we stopped at the first one, by the village hall. A hop past the post office and information centre, a skip across the road, and a jump through the archway in the stone wall, bring you out to a view of the Abbey remains and the River Wharfe meandering through the valley.
The fields near the river are kept cattle free and, therefore, picnic friendly. A bridge takes you across the river to the beach area or, for the more intrepid amongst you, there are stepping stones to help you traverse.
The river here is a popular spot for taking a dip. CJ and I braved the bracing waters for a character building paddle. If you look closely at the collage below, you’ll see a lad with more character than either of us having a swim. It’s stoney and slippy under there, so make sure you’ve got something on your feet. Areas where you should not attempt to venture into the water are marked with warning signs.
Paddling, nosing at a wedding, pebble pyramid building and general idling passed a very happy few hours, before we headed off for more lamb spotting on the way home. I spotted a fair few good looking pubs too, so we might have to forgo the picnic for something a little heartier next time we come this way. Another good thing about the journey to Bolton Abbey.