Bolton Abbey Half Marathon

BD23 6EX

Distance: 21.1km

Elevation: 426ft


This beautiful half marathon route starts and ends at the Bolton Abbey Tea Cottage. With easy paths to follow, and a few short climbs, this circular trail run has breath taking views at every turn.

Depending on where you have parked, head for the magnificent Bolton Abbey Ruins as your starting point. From here, head down towards the impressive bridge which crosses over the River Wharfe (or stepping stones – your choice). On the other side, take the lower path (although the higher path will also bring you out in the same place), which follows the river and becomes the well sign-posted Dales Way footpath. Keep following this until you reach the bridge leading to the Pavillion (where there are toilets and a cafe if you need a pit stop), continue to follow the River Wharfe on the other side now, heading for The Strid and Barden Bridge.

Continue along this path with the river on your right until you reach a road. Turn right onto the road, and over the bridge where you can pick up signs for the Dales Way again on your left, following the River Wharfe again. The path on this section is very pretty, but also quite narrow. Stay on the Dales Way until you reach a small farm (Howgill) and some wooden holiday chalets. Rather than continuing on the Dales Way towards Burnsall, you cross the road (which is a dip – so take care with cars), and continue onto a signposted track directly opposite. This is heading uphill towards Howgill Lane, where you can find Howgill Campsite and eventually Simon’s Seat (should you fancy an add on detour!). Once you reach the top of this track, turn right onto Howgill Lane, and you should very quickly pass the Brownie Cafe (another great place for a pit stop!).

You are now heading back towards Bolton Abbey, and this section is on the road and country lanes, so take care with the traffic. You will be able to see your outward route below as you follow the river back from a higher vantage point. Follow the road, taking a left at the fork (signposted for Storiths), which continues straight on, and becomes the most picturesque quiet country lane, with pine forest on either side. This road leads you back into the Bolton Abbey estate. Where, after a few miles, you will join the footpath heading towards Bolton Abbey and the Pavillion, opposite signs heading up to the Valley of Desolation. You will be heading downhill though, away from the Valley of Desolation.

There is an opportunity here to shorten your run, but if you want to do the full half marathon distance, rather than taking the path back to the Abbey, take a right following the footpath heading back towards Barden Bridge. And enjoy this beautiful winding path through the forest with the view of the river valley below.

Once you reach Barden Bridge, cross over and retrace your steps back towards the Strid, the Pavillion and eventually Bolton Abbey – there is a choice of a higher or lower path here, depending on how much more hill climbing your legs can take!

When you reach the Pavillion once again, don’t cross over the bridge this time, but head through the gate into what looks like the expansive green carpark area. Continue straight past the car parking and you will eventually be treated to a wonderful view of the Abbey in the distance. Go through the gate, across the field and head up the steps, where you pass an impressive fountain and the entrance to the Pavillion carpark. Follow the pavement which will bring you back to the Abbey and your starting point.

Enjoy the view, take a rest and congratulate yourself on a half marathon distance completed!


Bolton Abbey has a number of toilets and cafes on route, including the Cottage Tea Rooms, The Pavillion, The Strid, as well as the Brownie Cafe.

Arriving by Public Transport

The closest train station to Bolton Abbey is Ilkley, from there you can get the Dales bus to Bolton Abbey, click here to check times.

Arriving by car

There are a number of car parks in Bolton Abbey, but they are not free, so make a day of it!

There are a few available free spaces if you are an early bird, just off Bolton Bridge, a mile or so from the start, or over Barden (road) Bridge, which you pass on the route out towards Howgill.

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