Beware the Strid: the Sinister Stream


The River Wharfe runs through the little northern village of Bolton Abbey. Specifically, this section of the river is known as the Bolton Strid, or else just the Strid.

The Bolton Abbey village website advertises the sights and attractions, including what is supposedly a very lovely walk through the Strid Wood. However, they urge you to be careful around the Strid.

Please note the Strid is very dangerous and lives have been lost. Please take notice of the advice signs in this area and stay well back from the edge.

The Strid is wider than it looks and the rocks are usually very slippy.

At one point the River Wharfe swells to a width of 9 m (30 feet) but by the time it reaches the Strid just 90 m later the river is narrow enough to jump across. So where did all the water go? While the Strid looks easy to cross, all that water hasn’t disappeared; the waters from the River Wharfe flow through a deep but extremely narrow channel created by thousands – if not millions – of years of erosion caused by stones caught up in the current. The exact depth of the Strid is unknown as the current is far too strong to accurately measure the depth.

Locally the Strid has a reputation for dragging people down to their deaths, and there is at least one well-documented incident to back this up. In 1998 a young couple, Barry and Lynn Collett, on the second day of their honeymoon went for a romantic walk down by the Strid… never be seen alive again. A witness further down stream, Mr Desmond Thomas, raised the alarm when he saw a jacket and what looked like a man’s body flow past him. Mr Thomas said:

The level, speed and turbulence of the water looked like flood water. It rose a matter of feet in seconds. I went to the water’s edge and just as I got there I saw a man’s body, who I now know to be Barry, pop out of the water. The face popped up towards me and within a matter of seconds it disappeared.

It seems the lesson to be learned here is to beware the Strid.

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