Trying to find a way back into the world
BOLTON ABBEY Amidst the turmoil of modern living, of flashing lights, ubiquitous call centres, commutes and information overload, England still has spaces that offer tranquility and solitude. Bolton Abbey is one such place. Like a spinster from a lost generation, most of the Abbey itself has fallen into disrepair, with clouds and the odd slant of sunlight filling its empty arches. The dilapidated doorway, however, opens into a warm and sheltered interior, filled with incense and recorded soft chants. The monks who chose to settle here must have had an eye for beauty and antennae for peace, and it’s hard to imagine a more restful place for those buried beneath the stone. The 12th century Priory overlooks the Wharfe River, surrounded by the greenery of the Yorkshire Dales. It’s a setting that would delight the hearts of landscape painters, with its clear water, string of hopeful stepping stones and forests rising up on either side. Perhaps the fine mists of rain have frightened the others away (locals tell me that the car park overflows in summer) but right now the Abbey’s meadows are almost deserted. Almost. Two women and their golden retriever. One man fishing, waist-deep in the water, his movements slow like the current. We are alone with our thoughts, but we are not lonely.