Bolton Abbey … our Christmas tradition

Every family has their own favourite traditions at Christmas, so I thought I would take a break from talking about romance writing to tell you about one of ours.

It started by accident one Christmas Eve when our eldest child was a baby. There was a light dusting of snow, so my husband and I thought it might be nice to drive out into the Yorkshire Dales for a walk with the baby in a sling.

Bolton Abbey in snow - HP

The ruins of Bolton Abbey lie next to the river Wharfe, and there are miles of footpaths through fields, woods and along the river. We crossed the river (by the bridge – not the stepping stones!) and headed uphill to Storiths where we discovered Buffers, a café on a working farm. Not only could we peep at baby calves in the barn and then warm up with a bowl of homemade soup, but upstairs the owner has a whole room full of model railways set up which you can operate at the press of a button. What a find!

The next year we decided to repeat the tradition … and we’ve done so every Christmas Eve since, come rain or shine, except for a couple years when the weather was too bad to risk the drive.

Bolton Abbey - icy river - HPOne year, the river was almost completely iced over – a spectacular sight with icicles dangling from the bare tree branches.

Bolton Abbey - ducks in winter - HPThe ducks were forlorn, and one was so cold and hungry, it came right up to us and pecked at my son’s Wellington boots. We had nothing to feed it, and felt so sorry as we walked away – even worse as it waddled forlornly after us for ages until it finally gave up!

When the children were small, if they were flagging on the walk, we would make up stories to keep them going and sing Christmas songs as we trudged. We still sing, and we always stop to skim stones across the river, poke our noses into the beautiful church, and take time to explore the stone ruins of the abbey.

Fields at Bolton Abbey

The kids are 19 and 16 now, and somewhat reluctant with regard to country walks – but they’ll insist we do the same this year. And we’ll be singing every Christmas song we know as we walk.

So if you’re in the vicinity of Bolton Abbey on Christmas Eve and hear a cheery but discordant version of Frosty the Snowman ringing out across the fields loud enough to frighten the sheep … that’ll be us!

Do you have any special family traditions at Christmas? I’d love to hear about them!

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