Workshop Report: Bolton Abbey April & May 2015

Spring is that special time of year when the transition from winter changes drastically day upon day and during this season we take our workshops to Bolton Abbey and the amazing Strid Wood.

Our first took place at the end of April and the second trip in mid May. For both occasions the weather was changeable which meant varied light for the Abbey and diffused light in the woods… perfect!

As ever we were well looked after by The Tea Cottage, who served us our much needed morning coffee during discussions on exposure and what makes a great landscape photograph, before we headed out for the day. Due to the sun’s position at this time of day and year plus the changing light we made our first stop at the high viewpoint facing the Abbey. This makes for a great first stop as once the cameras are set up you can watch as the clouds pass overhead and change the light on the Abbey every moment, and the photographer can wait for that perfect time to press the shutter and capture that moment.

Looking at the lush wild garlic in Strid Wood

From the Abbey we made our way up towards Strid Wood to see how the bluebells and wild garlic are coming along. For our first trip in April the garlic was a rich green colour but not quite in flower, however the bluebells were looking rather nice and we made a couple of stops along the river side to capture the vibrant colours. Our trip in May in comparison was rich in the white flowers of the garlic plus there were a fair number of bluebells remaining, which made for fantastic colours.

Looking at the fast flowing River Wharfe at The Strid

Arriving at the Strid for lunch, it was amazing how the level of water differed for the two trips. Our April visit was after a recent wet spell and the swirling water was thrashing between the rocks, and in May it was distinctly lower, and being The Strid was equally thrashing but with more exposed rocks. This is a great stop as The Strid as an overall subject is quite difficult to capture but the little details in the moving water can make for more intimate views of the waterfall. On our way up to the bridge before returning down the other side of the river we made a final stop as the river bends up towards Barden Tower.


The route back towards the Abbey is loaded with photographic opportunities and we enjoyed both the views from Harrisons Ford Seat with the trees beginning to fill with colour to fantastic banks filled with Bluebells. We even had fun with intentional camera movement using the perfectly straight trees against the vibrant greens and blues.

Looking out from Harrisons Ford Seat in Strid Wood

Before getting back to the Abbey we made one final stop by a wooden bridge which has a view into a superb garlic wood with a small brook running through.


Our last stop for the day was back at the Abbey and for our first workshop we stopped by the stepping stones to make the best of the diffused light and capture the Abbey reflected in the river; at our May workshop we stopped by The Tea Cottage as the last sun of the day lit up the Abbey and the surrounding countryside.

At Bolton Abbey for the last light of the day


Both were superb workshops with fantastic colour and the light made for some great photography. The next day we went through the images at the processing session and the results were great – the changing light on the Abbey and floral displays in the woods make spring at Bolton Abbey a very special season.

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