The Most Dangerous Stretch of Water in the World: The Strid at Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire


Behind me is a bit of water called the Strid. There are a couple of Strids in Britain, but this is the one on the River Wharfe, at Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire. And I reckon it is the most dangerous stretch of water anywhere on Earth. Now that's a bold claim, I know. There are certainly rivers that have taken more lives, and there are rapids and waterfalls that few boats could ever sail. But generally, you can see them coming. This is just an innocent looking stream in the middle of some woods. You could jump over it. People occasionally do. But if you miss that jump, it'll kill you. This is what the river looks like about a hundred metres upstream. Same river. All that water went down. Thanks to the local geology, the river basically turns on its side, gouging out passages and tunnels in the rocks below. Those banks are actually overhangs: there isn't any riverbed just below the surface, it's a deep, boiling mass of fast and deadly currents. There are claims that falling in has a 100% fatality rate.

There's no way to confirm that, of course, because "local person doesn't die in river" doesn't make the news, but it has claimed a lot of lives: there are even tales from the 12th century of a young boy, set to be the future king of Scotland, who died trying to jump across those waters. And anything, or anyone, that falls in might not come out in any recognisable form: it could just get pulverised against the rocks underwater over and over and over again. I'd try and put a camera in, but then I'd have to get close to the edge. And the edge isn't sharp, it just curves towards the water and it's covered in slippery moss. Besides, the water is opaque and brown with peat stain, you'd see nothing. Is it survivable? Maybe, with a lot of equipment and a lot of luck. And you'll find occasional testimony from foolhardy people who've swum in the calmer pools at the bottom on drier days — but that's also where a young child drowned back in 2010. That's why it's so dangerous. It looks safe, it looks tempting, and it'll kill you. [Translating these subtitles? Add your name here!].