This route is just fantastic. Add moorland walking and incredible views to the usual delights of Bolton Abbey and you have the perfect walk to take your family on a real hike.
Distance: 7 miles/ 11km. The route climbs to a height of 305m.
Facilities: We started at the Bolton Abbey’s Pavillion, with toilets and a cafe.
Parking: We paid £10 for a day’s parking and entry to the estate. Check before you go. We started at the Riverside carpark, but you could also use the Village car park (as per the route on the pdf) or the Strid carpark.
Accessibility: Don’t even think about a buggy. Uneven paths, stiles and moorland.
Route: If you’re used to map reading and walking in the Dales, this is a relatively straightforward route, and we were fine with the pdf provided on the Bolton Abbey site (although did use a compass at one point to check we were right!). BUT, paths are over fields and moorland and are not always marked or obvious. If you’re not used to navigation make sure you have a proper map.
The walk up to Middle Hare Head
We started at the Riverside carpark, and walked along the river towards the priory. Could you ever get bored of that view?
When the usual route to the priory takes you towards the graveyard, stay on the road. There isn’t a proper pavement here, so do take care on the narrow verge. The bridleway starts at a wooden gate, and heads up a track. Another gate has a sign to indicate you’re on the right path, and then bear left. You’ll see some ponds to your left and a rather delightful tree to pose next to (or in!).
Another two gates to enter a beautiful woodland. The bird song was pretty impressive, as was the peace. We literally had the wood to ourselves, not seeing another person.
Leaving the woodland takes you to the moorland. In the first two fields we were greeted with lots of cows and sheep, all paying us close attention! We paused for lunch to enjoy the lovely views and to refuel Jess for the last climb.
The final ascent is the steepest we’ve faced, but completely manageable for our four year old… so nothing to worry about. You’ll get to enjoy views over two valleys.
Middle Hare Head to Bolton Abbey Walk
The descent from Hare Head to the Strid is largely on a long grassy moorland footpath. It makes for fairly difficult footing and is fairly boggy footing (even after a lot of dry summer weather- so beware in wetter months). We were thrilled to hear a cuckoo here in the woodland we passed!
Also be warned of the final stile before heading to the Strid. The picture is deceiving; it’s a pretty high one for little legs or like me, if you’re balancing with a baby carrier!
Walking in the Bolton Abbey Estate
The appeal of Bolton Abbey is endless, and walking back to the car park along the river and past the Strid is a total treat. Returning to the Cavendish Pavilion means you can reward yourself with a hot chocolate or ice cream depending on the weather!
I cannot stress enough what a great walk this was, and although it wasn’t the most challenging Dales walk, it was perfect for our daughter, who walked it all (super proud mummy). It takes you away from the usual trails of Bolton Abbey whilst still allowing you to enjoy the estate’s best bits. Amazing.
If you’re after a more relaxing day at Bolton Abbey, read this post about a day exploring the estate with children.
Or if you fancy a bit of an easier walk, try the walk to Barden Bridge.