A warm, friendly Heather welcome

We are delighted to share Heather, an historic boat, artistic refuge and home for over a century, laying on the ancient Broads Waterways of Norfolk.

It is our aim to preserve the distinctive character of Heather, enabling future generations to enjoy her charms. We welcome you to explore the houseboat and bountiful riverside beyond...

Andrew, Timothy and Christopher

6 November 2015

21st century pilgrimage to Bolton Abbey

During August and September we camped at Bolton in Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales. There is much to explore from the part ruined priory on the riverside and numerous walks to suit ramblers of any ability. Unusually, there is parking right on the gentle banks of the River Wharfe at a place known as Sandholmes. There is an entrance charge for vehicles, yet money collected goes directly back into maintaining the area.

The waters of the Wharfe, with its brownish rounded stones always remind me of the colour of whisky. In the authoritative story of the Bolton Abbey Estate, written by John M Sheard, it is referred to as ‘gin clear.' 

Bolton Abbey railway station is located a pleasant 15 minutes walk from the village along a leafy bridleway track, once the main A 59 road. The station buildings are almost surrounded by water, small becks trickle down the hillsides to find their way into Wharfe. We spent some time looking round and met some of the dedicated staff of the preserved railway.

The station was very much used by everyone from reigning monarchs and Dukes to mill workers. Following its closure in 1965, enthusiasts formed the Yorkshire Dales Railway Society and set about purchasing former track bed and relaying the line from the village of Embsay towards Bolton Abbey. However, by the 1980s, the leaning wooden station structure was a ghostly wreck. Following a mammoth fundraising campaign and with help of contractors brought together by Yorkshire Television’s Action Time programme, reconstruction of the station was completed in 1994; the tracks were finally relaid in 1998.

The railway is again a hive of industry, with specialist departments looking after the various operations of the railway. Having many fond memories of the station as a child, it was essential for me to visit whilst in the area. Bob and Anne were working in a 1960 vintage coach, reupholstering sprung seats. Each individual seat, set between tables in bays was painstakingly stripped and templates made. Tired and dusty green fabric, called mocquette ~ famously tough stuff, was replaced by a new breezy blue pattern. Some worn padding had to be replaced with foam, in place of horse hair.

I was thrilled to learn construction work on platform 2 began in July and platform 1 is soon to be the location of its first wedding. My visit bought back so many fond memories of my time spent here as a child. However, there is no need to take our word for it, please go and explore Bolton Abbey for yourself.

With kind thanks to Stephen Walker and the staff and volunteers of the railway, too numerous to mention here and David Morse.

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Chris, Andrew

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King's Head Staithe, Hoveton, pictured from Wroxham public Parish Staithe