The Historic Ruins at Bolton Abbey

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Are you a history enthusiast or perhaps interested in the deep heritage associated with the British Isles? Whether it’s the traditions associated with the Royal Family or perhaps the grandeur affiliated with the historic buildings sporadically located across every county, you can be sure of finding a real gem pretty much around any corner you turn. The historic ruins at Bolton Abbey, located in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales are a perfect example of an architectural gem proving to be an iconic landmark in England’s rich and treasured history. Forget York Minster which is probably the most famous of landmarks in Yorkshire, this is a real gem that I am glad we stumbled across.

One of the first places that I was able to experience during my first trip to England in 2010 was Bolton Abbey. I really didn’t know what to expect when we got there, though I did have some thoughts that it would be old, dark and very eerie! I couldn’t have been more wrong, in fact the estate located on the banks of the River Wharfe provided a perfect backdrop to miles and miles of stunningly beautiful English countryside.

bolton abbey

Where is Bolton Abbey?

If you are not familiar with English geography, the simplest way to explain the location of Bolton Abbey is to direct you to the other end of the country than London. Head north on the M1 until you reach the county of Yorkshire and you are at least now in the right area to find this hidden gem. Located about 50 miles north-east of Manchester, it is well within range of a day trip of pretty much anywhere in northern England.

bolton abbey

Approaching Bolton Abbey, you drive down the stereotypical narrow roads that we all love to associate with England and the first sight of the Abbey provided us with a breathtaking view of this estate.

The Ruins

Dating back to the early 12th century, Bolton Abbey was technically a priory despite its name. This location was used as a parish church soon after initial construction was completed. Throughout the centuries, Bolton Abbey transitioned from a parish church to the grounds of the current day ruins.

bolton abbey

Today as you walk around the grounds, you are left with distant memories of what this estate was once like. Imagine standing among these sacred ruins thinking about the monastery that once stood in the very spot where you are peering around the remnants that still stand.

bolton abbey

If you are interested in taking a tour of the church, guided tours are available daily and provide a great opportunity to ask questions and learn a wealth of information about this location that dates back 900 years!

bolton abbey

Of course these historic ruins are continuing to weaken and crumble, though what is left today provides a unique representation and offers visitors the opportunity to leave the 21st century and imagine what life was like at the Priority in centuries gone by.

bolton abbey

Family Fun

Bolton Abbey is much more than just an archaic series of ruins. Its location on the banks of the River Wharfe make this a popular spot for all the family, with a number of walking trails available. Apparently there are over 80 miles of trails available directly from the site of Bolton Abbey but I would go as far as to say the world is your oyster when it comes to exploring English countryside.

bolton abbey river wharfe

Whether you want to stick to a route close to the banks of the river, or perhaps wander through some gorgeous fields filled with your favorite flowers, there is something here for everyone.

We had a really awesome experience walking across the pedestrian bridge that crosses the River Wharfe and then taking a short, late afternoon stroll along the banks. On a gorgeous summer’s day, this is the ultimate relaxation spot as you hear a combination of the birds chirping in the surrounding woods and the river peacefully flowing downstream. They say that England is a hub for natural habitats and countryside, well after experiencing these trails you can certainly see why.

bolton abbey

Parking close to the Priory, there is a cafe on site with plenty of seating indoors and outside with gorgeous views across the estate and beyond. This is really popular spot for families to take a picnic and relax by the river as the kids play to their hearts content in the shallow water.

bolton abbey

Admission Details

Bolton Abbey is open all year round though opening times are seasonal with the summer months offering visitors the opportunity to stay until 9PM, though the last admission is 6PM! Admission prices are calculated on a per vehicle basis and for £8 all the family can experiences this great day out.

bolton abbey

Purchasing a ticket gives visitors access to all three car parks and really helps if you want to spend half the day by the river and the other half exploring the ruins and quaint village shops.

bolton abbey


If you have never visited Bolton Abbey, you need to add this to your bucket list of must-see attraction in England! It really is hidden in the heart of North Yorkshire, but don’t worry because this English county has a plethora of amazing attractions and landmarks, not to mention the stunningly beautiful countryside we all love to associate with England!

Our time at Bolton Abbey was memorable and of course visiting here when the weather is gorgeous really helps. The ruins may have been around longer than we have, but I really think it’s our job to help promote sites like this especially when you consider the history that surrounds them.

If you are interested in seeing all of our pictures from our trip to Bolton Abbey, check out our Bolton Abbey Photo Gallery for many more!

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Chris Boothman
Chris Boothman is the co-founder of A Brit and A Southerner. Born near Manchester, England, Chris moved to USA in 2006 where he soon after met his wife and travel partner in crime, Heather. They have since embarked on an amazing journey of travel as they challenge others to follow in their paths of working full-time but also being able to travel frequently! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Chris at [email protected]



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