Bolton castle lies at the Western end of the single main street in the village of Castle Bolton in the heart of Wensleydale.
Wharfedale and Bishopdale run South to North and across the top of Bishopdale, running West to East, lies Wensleydale. This means that the traveller coming North through Wharfedale comes through the village of Buckden, up the Kidstones Pass and on reaching the top looks down Bishopdale. And there, at the end of Bishopdale, on the fellside in Wensleydale stands the four-square Bolton Castle. That has been the sight the traveller would see since around 1380. Now in Winter it is floodlit and as you come over the top at Kidstones it is there in the far distance like a beacon. It is a very impressive sight and there is no doubt it was built as a symbol of might.
It was built around 1379 by the first Lord Scrope (pronounced scroop), who was knighted for his part in the Battle of Crecy. All the stone used in its building was quarried from the nearby Apedale and there is still a stone quarry there today. (Apedale means the valley of the norseman Appi - that really puts the history of the area into perspective).
I suppose its most famous claim to fame is that Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned there from
July 1568 until January 1569 before being taken for execution.
In the Civil War in the 1640's parliament ordered the castle to be destroyed so that it couldn't be used in war, so in 1647 it was partially destroyed.
It is now part of the Bolton Estates and is owned by Lord Bolton. Considering its age parts of it are extremely robust as you can see quite clearly in the close-up photograph. The room where Mary was kept under house arrest is in the left hand tower and is still in very good condition (you can now get married in that room if you want to!) As you can see the right hand tower is just a ruin - as is most of the rear of the building. But I think you will agree that it is in a fine state consiering it is getting on for seven hundred years old. In recent years Lord Bolton has restored some of the garden in front of the castle, making it as authentic to its heyday as is possible.
It is a magnificent structure and still dominates much of the dale. The long distance photograph is taken from a Western approach, through Wensleydale.