Bolton Strid – Yorkshire, England - Atlas Obscura

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Bolton Strid

Yorkshire, England

This lovely little burbling creek is actually a deadly waterway that has dragged down everyone who ever set foot in it. 


Part of the raging River Wharfe, the Bolton Strid is a picturesque stretch of river that looks like the type of place one might find fairies frolicking in the heath. But just beneath the surface is a natural booby trap that has claimed a number of lives.

Around the area of the Strid, the River Wharfe runs between two banks of mossy boulders, looking more like a stream or a creek than a rushing river, but travel just upstream of the spot and you will see that the waterway expands into a proper river, some 30-feet across with frothing currents and waves. The reason the Strid is so narrow is not because they’ve ended up running off course from the river, but because the waters simply change orientation. Instead of flowing in a wide horizontal course, the waters begin to flow vertically in the tight shaft created by the natural rock.

This change in orientation has created a deceptively deep and powerful current, even carving out areas beneath the shore rocks to create voids where debris (and people) in the water can be trapped. Indeed while there do not seem to be any hard numbers about exactly how many people have perished in the Strid, the local legend is that no one who has dared enter the waters has ever made it out alive. The caves and naturally carved traps laying just under the surface of the photo ready river have been claiming lives for centuries.

Nonetheless, the hiking trail that takes people near the Strid is still a popular place to stroll. Today there are signs up all around warning of the river’s hidden dangers. Even with these in place, it seems unlikely that the bloodlust of the Bolton Strid has been sated.

Know Before You Go

Park at the cafe nearby and walk upstream along the footpath until you reach the Strid. Be aware that the car park costs £15 per car, or £12.50 if you pre-book online (as per April 2022).

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