Bolton Abbey lies on the banks of the River Wharfe within a country estate of almost 30,000 acres in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. Its name derives from the ruins of the 12th Century monastery, now generally known as Bolton Priory, and the estate includes 8 miles of river, 84 farms, four Grade 1 listed buildings and various tea rooms, gift shops, cafes and refreshment kiosks. Bolton Abbey Hall, which was originally the gatehouse to the priory, was converted into a house by the Cavendish family who also own Chatsworth House estate in Derbyshire and Lismore Castle in Waterford, Southern Ireland. The estate is also home to the ruined Barden Tower which was once a hunting lodge and which overlooks the 16th Century Priest's House, which is now a very popular restaurant.
There are three car parks within the estate and the per-vehicle admission charge covers all three car parks so you can drive from one to another without incurring any extra charge. At the riverside across from the priory is a sandy beach and nearby are large stepping stones from one side of the river to the other - it can be quite a challenge going all the way across without getting your feet wet. In summer the riverside is a very popular place for picnics and barbecues, and the river itself has lots of shallow parts ideal for paddling. Kids both young and old can often be seen sailing down one particular section in or on various inflatables - in fact I did that myself several years ago, in a fluorescent pink inflatable armchair. It was brilliant fun!
The riverside paths are great for dog walking, and a visit to Bolton Abbey shouldn't be undertaken without a camera as there are many opportunities to get some lovely photos - you can see some of mine in my post from October 27th 2012.