The Strid is infamous for being the most dangerous stretch of river in the world! Found deep in Strid Wood along the River Wharfe, the waterway has apparently claimed the lives of many who have dared enter the water. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about The Strid at Bolton Abbey. This will include details about how to find it!
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About The Strid at Bolton Abbey
Also known as The Bolton Strid, The Strid is a popular place to visit along the River Wharfe at Bolton Abbey. There are many cautionary tales about the dangers of The Strid, while it’s notorious for having a 100% mortality rate for those who have fallen into it! So, what exactly is The Strid?
Well, The Strid is a small section of the River Wharfe in Strid Wood where the river is forced through a narrow gap in the rocks at a considerably high pressure. From a roughly 20 metre wide river, the water squeezes through a small channel, which is less than two metres wide.
As you can imagine, this creates an intense funnel effect, where there’s a wild and raging torrent of water. Instead of the water flowing normally across a wide horizontal course, the water begins to flow vertically in the tight passageway created by the rock bed.
This change in orientation of the flowing water creates a deceptively deep, powerful and unpredictable current. The current has even carved out an underwater void beneath the river banks where debris, and apparently people, have been trapped. Alternatively, it’s hypothesised that people can simply be smashed against the rocky walls by the current.
This is why The Strid is not only considered the most dangerous river in England but it’s considered the most deadly stretch of river in the world! So, is The Strid, which is actually fairly innocent-looking, really this dangerous?
The Most Dangerous Stretch of River in the World?
Despite its infamy as a place of death, there is no official death toll at The Strid. Although a couple honeymooning in the area in 1998 was reported missing in the news, there is no proof that anyone has ever died at The Strid. The deathly reputation doesn’t come from any actual deaths it seems but from a cautionary tale!
To understand the tale, we have to understand the meaning of the name. The Strid takes its name from the Anglo-Saxon word, ‘Stryth’, which means turmoil. This word was later corrupted into the name, ‘The Strid’, because the narrow width of this section of the river looks like it can be easily crossed with a long stride.
Legend has it that a local boy attempted to ‘stride’ from one bank of The Strid to the other. Unfortunately, his dog refused to jump, so the boy fell into the water, was sucked under by the current and died!
Of course, this is only a story. Apparently, there is proof that this same boy signed legal documents well after his alleged death! But, this didn’t deter the famous poet William Wordsworth, or the American author Gertrude Atherton, from writing about this tale in the 1800s. There is even an Old English saying which refers to the dangers of The Strid.
So, it seems the tale stuck and The Strid earned itself a reputation as a deadly natural wonder! You’ll find vloggers have visited the site at Strid Wood, claiming it’s the deadliest river in the world. Fair to stay, the crocodile and hippo-infested waters of the Congo River or the rapid-riddled rivers that flow from Tibet’s Mount Kailash may pose a bit more danger than the Strid!
Why Visit The Strid
Sure, The Strid may not be as deadly as its reputation suggests. Nevertheless, this spot along the River Wharfe in Strid Wood remains a popular place to visit. So, Beck and I decided to see what all the fuss was about and checked it out as we were exploring Bolton Abbey.
No, it isn’t the most deadly river in the world! But, The Strid is an area still worth visiting, simply because of its natural beauty. The moss-covered chasm in Strid Wood is truly a sight to behold. Indeed, The Strid is one of the most enchanting places to visit in the Yorkshire Dales, let alone Bolton Abbey.
Of course, we’re not saying that The Strid is a safe place to swim or that isn’t inherently dangerous at all. You’d be foolish to even think about entering these waters. Additionally, the banks along the river are very slippery. So, there definitely are dangers present if you’re not careful or sensible. So, as the signage and warnings suggest, do take care during a visit!
Anyway, let’s look into how you can visit this immensely beautiful (not deadly) place. Let’s start by looking at its exact location.
Where Is The Strid?
The Strid is located in North Yorkshire in the northwest of England. Specifically, it’s found along the River Wharfe in Strid Wood. This is a woodland found in Bolton Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. To help you get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the area on Google Maps.
How to Visit The Strid
To visit this spot along the River Wharfe, you’ll need to walk there. Below, we’ll go through the different route options for accessing The Strid.
Walk to The Strid
It’s possible to walk to The Strid from various locations at Bolton Abbey. We’ll cover these options below. Please note, that all of the official car parks at Bolton Abbey cost £15 if you pay on the day and £12.50 if you pay online in advance. The only free parking option is at Barden Bridge.
- The Strid Wood Car Park: this seems the most logical option. You’ll simply park here at The Strid Wood Car Park located by the Strid Wood Tea Rooms. You’ll then follow the Green Trail and walk approx. 500 metres to reach The Strid.
- Cavendish Pavilion: you could park here at the Riverside Car Park by Cavendish Pavilion. You’ll then follow the Green Trail and walk around 2km to reach The Strid.
- Bolton Abbey Car Park: by parking here, you’ll follow the Pink Trail, pass the Cavendish Pavilion, then follow the Green Trail, walking 3.4km in total to reach The Strid.
- Barden Bridge: it’s possible to park for free here at Barden Bridge and then you can walk 1.9km, via the Green Trail, to reach The Strid. If free parking is full, you can pay to park at the Barden Field Car Park, which is right next to Barden Bridge and opposite the free parking area.
Personally, Beck and I parked for free at Barden Bridge and walked to The Strid from there.
The Strid Wood
Whichever route option you choose, you’ll enter the enchanting Strid Wood at some point. This mesmerising woodland is actually a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Strid Wood is an acidic oak woodland, which is known for its beautiful bluebells in the Spring. It’s also home to a variety of wildlife including roe deer, otters, kingfishers, slow worms and greater spotted woodpeckers.
Regardless of which direction you come from, you’ll eventually descend Strid Wood to arrive at the River Wharfe, where you’ll find The Strid.
The Strid, River Wharfe
After passing a danger sign nailed to a tree, you’ll soon hear the loud noise of water rushing through The Strid. You’ll notice the banks of the river are completely covered in moss, which looks truly spellbinding. Of course, this means the rock platforms are slippery, so take care. We’re convinced you’ll spend an age at this mesmerising part of the River Wharfe. As mentioned, the Strid is one of the most naturally beautiful places in the Yorkshire Dales.
Things to Know Before You Go
Now you know all about visiting The Strid, let’s look at some practical tips to help you plan your visit to Bolton Abbey.
How to Get to The Strid
The most convenient way to get to Bolton Abbey is to drive there yourself. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, then we recommend hiring a car using DiscoverCars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Discover Cars for very reasonable prices. Also, the website is user-friendly and booking online is super easy. Have a look at car hire from Manchester.
As mentioned, regardless of which car park you use or how long you stay, it’s £12.50 for prebooked parking or £15 if you pay upon arrival. An alternative free parking option is to park here at the Barden Bridge.
It’s also possible to use public transport to get to Bolton Abbey. That way, you don’t have to pay for parking. But, you’re looking at a much slower journey time. So, we actually don’t recommend using public transport. If you’re visiting by train, the closest stations are Skipton or Ilkley. From there, you’d have to catch a taxi to Bolton Abbey. We recommend using a combination of Google Maps and Trainline to plan and book your journey.
A better public transport option is getting a bus as you’ll be taken directly to Bolton Abbey. Each day brings about a different bus service going to Bolton Abbey. Please head to Dales Bus for information about the latest timetable.
Other Things to Do in Bolton Abbey
Other than visiting The Strid, there are many brilliant things to do at Bolton Abbey. Below, we’ll quickly detail other things to see during a visit to Bolton Abbey.
Bolton Abbey Ruins
Of course, you’ll need to explore the historic Bolton Abbey Priory Church and Ruins during a visit.
Simon’s Seat and Valley of Desolation
Perhaps the best walk at Bolton Abbey is the Simon’s Seat and Valley of Desolation Walk. Simon’s Seat is an epic gritstone-capped summit located on Barden Fell. Whilst, in the Valley of Desolation, you can find the Bolton Abbey Waterfall.
Bolton Abbey Waterfall
Also known as Posforth Gill Falls, Bolton Abbey Waterfall is one of the most underrated waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales.
Bolton Abbey Walk
The Bolton Abbey Walk (AKA the Bolton Abbey Circular Walk) is a great walk to see most of the major attractions on the estate. Although, there are many different walks and route options for exploring Bolton Abbey. Certainly, you’ll want to spend a day at Bolton Abbey, walking along different paths, to see all of the attractions and places of interest.
Bolton Abbey Accommodation
Given the wealth of activities and places to see at Bolton Abbey, you may want to stay in the area during a visit. Also known as Bolton Abbey Hotel, Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa is the only accommodation option on the Bolton Abbey Estate. Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa is an impressive four-star country house hotel that features an award-winning restaurant, an adult-only spa, a gym and an indoor pool.
For a memorable experience at Bolton Abbey, we highly recommend staying at Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa.
What to Wear and Take
These are our gear essentials for visiting The Strid at Bolton Abbey.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
FAQs About The Strid
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about The Strid at Bolton Abbey.
How Deep Is The Strid?
According to a well-known vlogger, who used a sonar device, The Strid depth measures an astonishing 65 metres at its deepest point! But, this claim has come under scrutiny. The average depth is more likely to be around 4–5 metres.
Can I Swim in The Strid?
No, swimming is banned. After all, this place boasts a 100% mortality rate for swimmers!
Has Anyone Dived in The Strid?
Before swimming was banned, some scuba divers went underwater in the 1970s. They lived to tell the tale and reported a maximal depth of nine metres downstream from The Strid.
Has Anyone Survived The Strid?
Yes, the 100% mortality rate of death is a myth, centred around a cautionary tale.
Why Is the Strid So Dangerous?
It’s dangerous because of the powerful and unpredictable current. This is created by the narrow passageway where water is funnelled through at a high pressure.
Best Villages to See in the Yorkshire Dales
- Grassington: Everything You Need to Know About Grassington
- Hawes: The 16 Best Things To Do In Hawes
- Ingleton: 10 Awesome Things To Do In Ingleton
- Masham: Everything You Need to Know About Masham
- Buckden: The 5 Best Things To Do In Buckden, Yorkshire
- Keld: The 5 Best Things To Do in Keld, North Yorkshire
- Clapham: The Top 13 Things To Do During A Visit to Clapham, Yorkshire
- Ribblehead: 15 Awesome Things To Do In Ribblehead
Other Yorkshire Dales Guides
- The Strid fishing: fly fishing is possible at the Bolton Abbey Estate near The Strid. Head to the official website for more details.
- Visit early to avoid the crowds: all of the official Bolton Abbey Car Parks have opening times. But, there aren’t any time limitations or opening times for the free parking at Barden Bridge as it’s an unofficial parking area. So, you can park there very early in the morning and reach the Strid early to beat the crowds.
- Visit Ilkley and Otley: near Bolton Abbey, you’ll find more brilliant walks at Ilkley Moor and Otley Chevin.
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