You know a place is something special when afterwards you say, “we must go there again sometime”. Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire is one such place.
The Priory at Bolton Abbey
On a Sunday family day-trip, our initial search for the Abbey resulted in a fortunate wrong turning that took us to the working steam railway station near Bolton Abbey. This location faithfully depicts the design of an early twentieth century station, a place seemingly hiding away from the buzzing metropolises and crowded noisy towns of modern Britain. The station is abundant with wildlife and the air is beautifully crisp and clean. Amongst the wildlife we were delighted to find rare flowers, such as the bee orchid. It is easy to see why a generation of men tried to recreate such locations with working models fashioned in their dimly lit lofts or garages; similarly located in peaceful retreats. There is something ineffably likeable about steam trains and their stations.
Once we pulled ourselves away from the mini-steam trains, we finally found the car park for the priory itself. After looking around the gift-shop and site, we began to worry that we would have a long trek to reach the Abbey. It was nowhere to be seen. We found a map and it pointed us in the direction of a location called ‘The Hole in the Wall’. So off we went to find this mysteriously named place.
After a few minutes of walking, we were astonished to actually find a hole in a wall. The wall was the original boundary to the estate of the Abbey. As we went though the hole, my father said, “Okay Dorothy, Kansas goes bye-bye!” This indeed summed up the sentiment of the experience.
Once we were through the hole, a hidden and vast panorama awaited us with the grand priory taking centre stage. Although the Abbey seemed to be completely in ruin from our distant view, when we got closer we were overjoyed to find that one part of the Abbey is still, after some restoration, in near perfect condition. Inside it is nearly impossible to converse except in hushed tones and whispers, and the priory oozes with atmosphere as you walk within the confines of the main hall. Generation after generation of stories seem to be lurking from around one of the many stone pillars and dark corners, and then just as quickly, they are gone again.
Atmosphere Inside the Priory
Although it is worth making the trip for the priory in itself, this is merely one of many landmarks to see on the estate. The estate of Bolton Abbey, owned by the Cavendish family, comprises 30,000 acres that include, amongst other attractions, the steam railway, the priory, Bolton Hall, and Barden Tower. It would take multiple visits to fully explore the 80 miles of footpaths on the Cavendish estate and see all it has to offer. I’m sure I will be going there again sometime to see more.
For more information about Bolton Abbey and the Cavendish estate, visit the official Web-site at www.boltonabbey.com.