Yorkshire cycling website


Skipton to Bolton Abbey cycle route

Priory, Bolton Abbey

Priory, Bolton Abbey

This cycle route, chosen as Stage 5 of the Sustrans Slow Tour of Yorkshire, is from Skipton, along a back road to Bolton Abbey. It's 7 miles one way, so 14 miles there and back. This is the Sustrans leaflet for the ride.

When I did this ride, the main B6160 to Bolton Abbey was closed for maintenance. As a result, the back road was much busier than normal. I encountered a lot of cars, a tipper truck, and white vans. On a single track road, it quickly becomes stressful, whether the vehicles are overtaking or coming in the opposite direction. Amongst the vehicles were three taxis, and none of the taxi drivers passed me considerately.

I asked a local cyclist, and he said the road is normally much quieter.

Other than that, it was nice scenery, and a rolling road - always up a bit or down a bit.

Skipton to Bolton Abbey cycle route: map

The map shows the route from Skipton to Bolton Abbey in yellow, and a further short section to the Cavendish Pavilion café in green.

Skipton to Bolton Abbey cycle route: route notes

Skipton to Embsay

Skipton Free Library

Skipton Free Library

I parked at the Museum car park in Skipton (quite expensive).

You leave Skipton on the A6131, passing the church and castle on your left, and going steeply uphill. This is no fun at all - I was going quite slowly, there's not much space, and there was a lot of traffic. I wouldn't want to be attempting that with children.

Skipton Castle

Skipton Castle

You pass Baileys car park (also expensive, but might be a better option), then turn left towards Embsay on what is called Skipton Road. Although theoretically a minor road and a designated cycle route, I found that this was also pretty busy. You go under the A65, then under the railway, and arrive at the village of Embsay.



If you want to avoid the worst of the traffic, Embsay would be the place to start this ride. Also, if you're driving to the start, you can park for free on the street in Embsay.

Pass the pub on your right, the Cavendish Arms. Turn right by the paper shop and Post Office, on Shires Lane.

Cavendish Arms, Embsay

The Cavendish Arms, Embsay

Embsay to Bolton Abbey

Embsay to Bolton Abbey road

Embsay to Bolton Abbey Road

At the next junction, turn right on Low Lane. It's a narrow country road, with green and pleasant land either side. A little more than half way to Bolton Abbey, you reach the small village of Halton East.

Halton East

Halton East

After Halton East, it's mainly downhill to Bolton Abbey. As you come into the village, the main car park, visitor centre, and WC are on your right. (There's a charge for parking at Bolton Abbey, but no entrance charge to the estate, so it's free to visit by bike). A little further on is one of the cafés, Tea on the Green.

Tea on the Green

Tea on the Green

If you turn left in Bolton Abbey, onto the B6160, the first right (signposted for the church of St Mary & St Cuthbert) takes you down to the ruins of the Priory, and the stepping stones across the Wharfe. See Bolton Abbey's map of the site.

Stepping stones, Bolton Abbey

Stepping stones, Bolton Abbey

If you're plannng on tea and cake, go a bit further on the B6160, then fork right down to the Cavendish Pavilion.

Return route

Return by the way you came.

All photos © Hedgehog Cycling

Skipton to Bolton Abbey cycle route: comments and suggestions

I think I was unlucky that the B6160 was closed when I did this ride. Diverted traffic made it a stressful rat-run route, instead of a calm, country lane.

If you can start from Embsay not Skipton, that would take out the worst section in terms of traffic.

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Bolton Abbey

Bolton Abbey stepping stones

Bolton Abbey, in Wharfedale, includes the ruins of an Augustinian monastery founded in 1154, known as Bolton Priory. At the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Bolton Priory closed (1540).

At the west end of the ruins of the Priory is the parish church (St Mary & St Cuthbert), which survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Work was done to its architecture in Victorian times, including windows by August Pugin. It is still used for worship today, and is Church of England.

From 1748, the Estate belonged to the Dukes of Devonshire (surname Cavendish), then the ownership structure was changed when it was handed over to the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees. The Devonshire family remain involved.

Red grouse

Red grouse

Bolton Abbey is involved in grouse shooting. They boast of 13,500 acres of land devoted to it on Barden Moor. The also sell pheasant shooting 'packages'.

In July 2018, a red kite which had been illegally shot was found near the Strid at Bolton Abbey. It isn't known who shot that red kite. In general, it is strongly suspected that birds of prey are illegally shot or poisoned by some grouse moor gamekeepers or managers. The Chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park has said the Park Authority is strongly opposed to 'barbaric and persistent persecution of raptors' on grouse moors.

Red kite, Harrogate

Red kite, Yorkshire

As well as any illegal killing of birds of prey, managing moors for the highest possible intensity of grouse involves the legal killing of other predators, including foxes, stoats, weasels, and crows, using traps and guns.

Skipton church EmbsayBolton Priory