A SHORT (four-mile) weatherproof walk that will offer some spectacular riverside viewing (with little walking effort) as the snow melt swells the River Wharfe. The Strid is the (dangerous) but scenic section of the river as it is squeezed through a narrowing of the river bank. The paths stick close to the river and are mainly through attractive woodland keeping any inclement weather at bay.

Park in the large car park near the Cavendish Pavilion. Just past the café turn right and cross the bridge over the River Wharfe. Join an excellent path heading upstream and soon enter a lovely area of woodland, so characteristic of the estate. Of particular interest is the Laund Oak Trees, the oldest reputed to be 700 years old, which are the natural habitat for a range of rare fauna and flowers. It is protected as an area of Special Scientific Significance and a lovely area to walk through.

After ¾ a mile the route passes The Strid, reputedly one of the most dangerous stretches of river in England due to the undercurrents, underwater vortexes and unusual rock formation. Keep your distance and do not attempt ‘The Stride’ across the waters from where the name the Strid is derived. The Strid is impressive to look at however and certainly after recent wet weather is very powerful. From the Strid the path continues close to the river until it merges with the Long Distance Footpath of the Dales way at a stone packhorse style bridge. The path emerges from woodland in to empty fields before arriving at Bardon Bridge and Bardon Tower.

At this point, cross the road bridge and enter the grounds of the now derelict Bardon Tower. Originally an old hunting lodge, Henry Cliffors, a staunch Lancastrian restored the building impressively in the late 15th century after the Battle of Bosworth raised the Tudors to power. A Tower rather than a castle Henry Clifford loved its rural outlook and added a 2nd building, the Priests House (now a restaurant) in 1515. Lady Anne Clifford restored the Tower in 1659 but sadly it fell in to neglect in the following century and has never recovered but as part of a walk it offers an interesting aside and a great picnic spot with views north in to the rougher dales and across the river to Simon’s Seat.

Return to the river and follow the opposite (west bank) from whence you came. The path soon re-enters the woodland and heads south downstream. There is a choice of paths within the woodland, all in good condition but some sticking closer to the river than others. The Strid looks even less enticing from this side! I was delighted to see a heron on this section of the walk, surely one of the most graceful birds we have. The woods finally open up back at the Cavendish Pavilion, a smart café with a gift shop.

However if you would like to extend the walk carry on for one mile to the ruins of Bolton Abbey, returning the same way to complete an excellent early spring walk.