Cyclists banned from using Bolton Abbey bridge have to use 'dangerous' A-road diversion

Local riders claim that Bolton Abbey has hired security guards to stop cyclists and horse riders from crossing

Cavendish Bridge at Bolton Abbey
(Image credit: Benjamin Chang/Google Maps)

Cyclists have been told they can not use the Cavendish Bridge on the 30,000-acre Bolton Abbey estate in North Yorkshire to get to the popular café on the other side.

Local riders have claimed that not only has a gate been fitted to the bridge but security guards have been hired to stop anyone who is not walking from crossing the wooden bridge. This has been denied by the estate.

Local riders have been left outraged that they are not allowed to use the bridge which is a useful cut-through across the River Wharfe on the Dales Way and say they have to head south to the busy A59 as a diversion.

The Bolton Abbey Estate told Cycling Weekly: "To enable safe social distancing and protect the health and wellbeing of our visitors and colleagues, use of the Cavendish Wooden Bridge at Bolton Abbey is currently restricted to pedestrians only. 

"This measure was introduced in April 2020, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This restriction is explained on signs at the approach to the bridge. We are aware that there have been instances of these signs being removed, and when this happens, we ensure they are replaced as quickly as possible. On busy days a member of the Bolton Abbey team is located on the bridge to remind visitors of the rule.

"Access for cyclists to the estate, including the Cavendish Pavilion and toilets, is via Riverside Drive.

"Once social distancing rules relating to Covid-19 are no longer in force, the restrictions on cyclists using the bridge will be lifted.

"The route in question is registered as a permissive path on the OS map, not a public right of way. Riders and their horses are welcome on the estate on the designated bridleway."

But local riders have claimed in a piece by Cycling UK that the estate has hired security guards that are more suited to nightclubs. 

Cycling UK head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore has said: “Cycling UK looked into this matter a little closer, we found we were really only scratching the surface and that the Devonshire Estate had been failing to provide access to cyclists to estate land for years.  

“This is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Yorkshire and it’s easy to see why the estate attracts some 400,000 visitors a year. Cyclists should be able to enjoy the special qualities of our National Parks, instead, they are being faced by security guards more appropriately employed outside of nightclubs.” 

Another rider, Tom Whewell from Leeds, told the BBC  that "any cyclist here is turned away and has to take a big diversion and get on the A59 and battle 38-tonne lorries. It is like we're being criminalised."

An alternative route to the estate away from the A59 does exist; riders can continue along a very quiet narrow road to Barden where they can cross the Wharfe onto the B6160, albeit on longer diversion.

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.