The Strid

Nestled in the heart of Yorkshire is a stretch of river with a sinister past.

Bolton Abbey in West Yorkshire is home to a preternaturally picturesque scene. Through a wall and down some steps, the vista opens out and extends to the hills to the right, the old monastery to the left, and ahead, the bridge across the River Wharfe.

The monastery itself is largely in ruin, yet one section, the nave, still survives, and has been in continuous use since 1170, surviving both Henry VIII, Oliver Cromwell, and is still weathering today's trend away from religion. Around the back, graves from important people dating back a thousand years are visitable, and chart the change in gravestone trends through the ages, reaching a gothic zenith in victorian times before falling back to simpler tastes.

This site is honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited in Yorkshire[1], and I you should go at your first opportunity.


Following the banks of the Wharfe to the north, the terrain earns its name, as footpaths begin to snake up and the hillside, giving magnificent views of the valley below. Around twenty minutes walk from the Abbey, you, my avid explorer, will come across 'the Strid'.

The Strid is just a stretch of the River Wharfe, and at first glance, looks like any river. The water flows a little faster, bubbles are more prominent. Nothing too unusual.

But this place is the stuff of legend.

      This striding-place is called THE STRID,
      A name which it took of yore:
      A thousand years hath it borne that name,
      And shall a thousand more.
      – William Wordsworth

And the legend has passed from generation to generation: the Strid has killed at least a dozen people before, it will kill again. Perhaps the most famous tragedy was that of the son of Lady Alice de Romilly, about which Wordsworth wrote.

More recently, a honeymooning couple were doomed when the water level suddenly rose by 5 feet in less than one minute, dragging the lovestruck couple under the water. The husband's body did not emerge for two months.

Perhaps the danger of the place was exaggerated, but it seems locals will take no chances. Today at the site, bright red signs stand out from the foliage, warning visitors of the danger that lurks below. Beware this place.



For the pure beauty of the area surrounding the Abbey, the surrounding nature trails, and the macabre history of the Strid, Bolton Abbey is a must see for anyone visiting the area.

  1. And therefore, the world. ↩︎