Circular walk around Aysgarth Falls and Bolton Castle
It said in the book that this walk was about 7 miles (11.27km), I think we took a few wrong turnings, but it was well worth it on an overcast day in Wensleydale.
Start at Aysgarth Falls National Park Visitor Centre; from the visitor centre, turn right along the path to the Middle and Lower Falls – we had a look, but nothing too exciting today and not worth getting the camera out for.
You then cross over the road and go through Freeholders Wood and follow the signs for Bolton Castle, easy to get lost on the first part of the walk, but once Bolton castle comes into view (when you have emerged through a few farms towards redmire) then after a short walk along the road you can take a left and work your way up the hill to the summit and the castle.
And this is a fantastic castle!
This feudal fortress was built in 1399 by Richard, the first LORD SCROPE, high chancellor of England, in the eighteen last years of the reign of King Richard the II, at a cost of 1800 marks (£12,000,) an enormous sum in those days.
It irregular square form, 125 feet on the east side, 131 on the West, 187 on the North and 184 on the South, has four towers 96 feet high, one at each corner, connected by buildings of enormous strength; the whole surrounding a court yard 96 feet by 52 feet with only one ground entrance to it through a gateway on the east side, defended by a strong portcullis.
Lord Scrope of Bolton, headed the Wensleydale and Richmondshire men, September 9th 1513, on Flodden Field, where they battled the Scots, who lost about 10,000 men including their King and the prime of their Nobility, Gentry, and Clergy.
Bolton was one of the many places in which Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned by her loving cousin the good Queen Bess (Elizabeth I).
On the 16th of May 1568, Mary landed at Workington, and on the 18th arrived at Carlisle. On the 13th of July she left Carlisle, in charge of Lord Scrope and Sir Francis Knollys, finally arriving at Bolton one hour after sunset on the 15th of July, received by Lady Scrope.
Bolton Castle is the sole survivor of the numerous prisons in which Mary was detained.
In the Civil Wars of the time of Charles I, Bolton Castle was held for the King by the Richmond Cavaliers, first under Colonel Scrope, and afterwards under Colonel Chaytor, who resisted the Roundheads till the garrison had eaten their horses: Chaytor then capitulated upon the honourable terms on the 5th November 1645.
This castle, with many others, was ordered by parliament to be made untenable in 1647; and in 1694, the north-east tower, which had been sorely battered during the siege by cannon planted on the hill behind, fell with a sudden crash. Emanuel, Earl of Sunderland, the 13th Lord Scrope, who died in 1630, was the last of the family that dwelt at Bolton Castle.
When you leave Bolton Castle (having had a nice picnic on a park bench outside the church of St Oswald), walk through a gate and follow the double farm track for next 2½ miles along the bridleway on high ground back along the dale towards Aysgarth.
When the farm road ends, continue straight-forward through a gate. Keeping the wall on your left, follow this track after crossing a stream first. Continue along this track for awhile before the path eventually descends to join a walled lane.
Continue along this path which leads to a road and in Carperby.
Turn right onto the road and go as far as Wheatseaf in Caperby, then turn left off the road to find the path that will take you down to Aysgarth.
After you have passed through a couple fields to emerge Freeholders’s wood, you will find the road and the railway bridge to emerge once again in Aysgarth Falls National Park Visitor Centre.
there is a far better description of this walk here on the Wensleydale web site.
Thanks to the lady who donated the parking ticket – a well worthwhile 4 hour trip, to be rewarded with some coffee and cake in Leyburn!