Imagine you’re walking through the English countryside and you see a babbling brook. You might be tempted to have a quick drink, or simply jump over it to get to the other side. But there’s one river in England you definitely don’t want to risk either with because it will eat you alive: the Bolton Strid.
It’s not nasty piranhas (sorry fishies, you guys get a bad wrap) or dangerous sulfuric water (looking at you Dante’s Peak), but rather a very, very strong current that has made the Bolton Strid, AKA The Strid, one of the most dangerous rivers anywhere in the world. In fact, it’s often said it has a 100% mortality rate.
Located near Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire, the seemingly innocent stream has become the stuff of legends, with accounts of its treacherous waters dating back to the 12th century. One of the first documented victims was William de Romilly, who tried to jump the river in 1154 and didn’t make it. In her grief his mother donated the land around the river to the Bolton Priory monastery. The tragic event was later turned into a poem by William Wordsworth, ‘The Force of Prayer’. Sadly, the river is still claiming lives today. It’s easy to slip on the edge of the river and be mercilessly sucked under, and an 8-year old tragically drowned in 2010.
Warning signs litter the banks of The Strid. The worst part is that it looks fairly shallow and easy to jump. ‘Strid’ is even thought to be a form of ‘Stride’, because it looks easy enough to simply stride across the 6ft gap. It’s not. You see the Strid is a natural ‘pinch point’ where water from the 80ft wide River Wharfe is quickly narrowed into a mere 20ft at the beginning of The Strid. It creates a series of waterfalls that are for more dangerous than they look and the power of the water has created undercuts in the bank and deep gorges under the water. While they’re almost impossible to explore because of the turbulence of the water, it’s believed the river plummets to 30ft and there are a series of underwater tunnels and caves caused by erosion.
There are naturally plenty of ghost stories about The Strid. We won’t go into them because we scare far too easily, but one of the most persistent rumours is that whenever the river claims a life, a ghost-white horse appears upstream. Spooky AF. Going along with its tagline of ‘100% mortality’ rate and ghost stories is the sad fact that the bodies of many people who fall into the river are never recovered, or show up much later far away, such is the force of the punishing current. The Strid is one stream you don’t want to mess with.