Bolton Abbey May Restrospective

Tomorrow would have been our third workshop of 2020 and our second spring visit to Bolton Abbey and the lovely Strid Wood of the season.  This workshop is timed to take best advantage of the vibrant spring foliage and especially the carpets of wild garlic flowers in the woodland, so rather than remind ourselves of more images of the priory ruins, we’ll head straight into the woods…

Amongst the wild garlic in Strid Wood, Bolton Abbey Workshop, May 2019.
Amongst the wild garlic in Strid Wood, Bolton Abbey Workshop, May 2019.

Our first woodland stop is always at a quiet spot down by the river under a canopy of trees where we concentrate on reflections and fallen leaves in the water on our other visits during the year.  On the May visit, however, we have the added bonus of the wild garlic all the way up the bank along the path so we often find that more time is spent here with lots of options from wide views along the path to intimate flower portraits.

Wild Garlic Flowers by a Path in Strid Wood
Wild Garlic Flowers by a Path in Strid Wood

When we can eventually tear ourselves away from this spot we wander up to The Strid itself for our lunch stop before photographing the torrent of the River Wharfe travelling through this narrow fissure.

Photographing moving water at The Strid
Photographing moving water at The Strid, May 2019.

The visit last year had a nice river level for shooting moving water (if it’s too full it looks a bit flat) but the peaty water churning into the white water rapids is always good fun and no Bolton Abbey workshop is complete without a few abstract moving water images!

Fast flowing water and moss covered eroded rock in The Strid
Fast flowing water and moss covered eroded rock in The Strid

From The Strid we follow the path upstream where there are more paths through the woods lined with wild garlic…

A Fine Crop of Wild Garlic Flowers in Strid Wood
A Fine Crop of Wild Garlic Flowers in Strid Wood, May 2017

We don’t always stop here but when the flowers look as good as they did on a wet day in 2017 it’s hard to resist.  Rain never stops play on a workshop – and sometimes the wet vegetation combined with the overcast lighting is just the best for woodland photography!

Oak trees in Spring in Strid Wood at Bolton Abbey
Oak trees in Spring in Strid Wood at Bolton Abbey, may 2019

On the return path on the other bank of the River Wharfe, which is higher up, shooting the vibrant spring foliage becomes the order of the day and it’s generally a case of picking out parts of the landscape to simplify it and produce a pleasing composition.

Carpet of Bluebells under a Spring tree in Strid Wood
Carpet of Bluebells under a Spring tree in Strid Wood, May 2016

Although the May visit is focussed on the wild garlic flowers, depending on how late the spring has been there can often be bluebells to photograph too – as this image from 2016 shows – these lovely flowers were just by the path near where we stop to photograph the spring foliage, so that was a bit of a bonus!

Wild Garlic Flowers by the Footbridge, May 2017
Wild Garlic Flowers by the Footbridge, May 2017

Before we get back to the abbey ruins where we started there’s often an extra wild garlic stop by this wooden footbridge over a stream running into the Wharfe.  It’s always very dark here so sturdy tripods are a must but when the wild garlic is a its peak it can be a highlight of the workshop!

It’s a shame to miss out on the wild garlic flowers in Strid Wood this year, but we’re planning to be back next May and the workshop is open for bookings on the website now!  Visit the Bolton Abbey Workshop page for full details.

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