A Food & Travel Blog

Bolton Castle in the Beautiful Yorkshire Dales

18/09/2017 | By

A visit to the 14th century Bolton Castle in North Yorkshire is a fascinating look at English history – and is still held by the Bolton family.

North Yorkshire, bolton castle

For the longest time, Australians were taught English history in schools, rather than the much older history of our own country. Coming from a long line of the ‘bolshy’ bog Irish, I was never all that keen on English history, but only a fool could fail to have their interest piqued when visiting some of the fascinating British historical landmarks.

Bolton Castle, in Wensleydale in North Yorkshire is one of these.

Damaged bolton castle walls

Interior damage at bolton castle

It’s possible to freely wander around the damaged interior of Bolton Castle.

Built between 1378 and 1399, Bolton Castle was originally one of the grandest and most luxurious homes in Britain and gives it’s name to the local village, Castle Bolton. The castle was severely damaged during the English civil war of the mid 17th century but much of it remains, with one third of the rooms and three quarters of the walls intact and most of it is completely accessible to the public – in fact, it is one of the most accessible castles I’ve visited.

bolton castle falcon

Part of the falconry display.

The castle is still  in the ownership of Lord Bolton, a direct descendent of the original owner, Sir Richard le Scrope, and offers visitors a look at how some aspects of life were lived in it’s hey-day. They offer falconry experiences, a ‘hawk walk’, archery classes and a visit to feed the wild boar kept on the property.

bolton castle passageway and gate

Original bolton castle kitchen

Original kitchen – no mod cons here.

The costs of maintaining a property of this age and condition must be prohibitive, so only a few of the special areas of the  castle are preserved in original condition, including the archers quarters in the bottom of the castle, the kitchen and one special bedroom.

When Mary Queen of Scots was defeated in Scotland, she high-tailed it south to England, where she was promptly seen as a threat to Queen Elizabeth I. She was captured and held in various places, including Bolton Castle where she was given Henry Scrope’s own apartments.

bolton castle, mary queen of scots room

Mary, Queen of Scots’ bedroom.

bolton castle view

Mary’s view of the looming Yorkshire skies.

Over more recent years, the castle has been used as a location for several movies and television productions including Heartbeat and, one of my favourites, All Creatures Great and Small.

I was surprised at just how much of the castle we were free to explore. Visitors can even climb up onto the parapets, which offer a glorious view of the surrounding Yorkshire countryside. But, typical of Yorkshire, the weather turned while we were in the castle and by the time we got to the top it was pouring, making photos impossible.

But in a region noted for it’s broody, grey weather I think I’d have been disappointed if it didn’t.

English flag flying at bolton castle

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  1. Liz (Good Things)

    Such amazing history with these old castles, isn’t there. For some reason, my Peter has Bolton Castle in his family tree, but he can’t seem to trace the origins of that link. Lovely photos, great post! (PS am taking a brief hiatus from FB).

  2. Anna @ shenANNAgans

    Yep, I’d absolutely want to trawl my way around Castle Bolton too, was the bed really tiny in Mary, Queen of Scots bedroom or was it a huge, huge room. We don’t realise how much we (as a race) have grown so much taller until you see ships quarters, ceiling heights and castles and houses build hundreds of years ago.

  3. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    History can be so fascinating and grisly. I’ve been there and I remember being fascinated to see what the bedrooms were like, especially Mary, Queen of Scots’ one!

  4. Tandy | Lavender and Lime

    I always imagine trying to heat these old places, especially before they put glass in the windows.