Discover the Tranquil Trails of the Swinsty Reservoir Circular Walk
Enjoy a delightful 3-mile Swinsty Reservoir circular walk in Nidderdale, suitable for all ages and completed in roughly 1½ hours.
Begin at the northern car park of Swinsty Reservoir. Exit onto the nearby road and turn right, walking across the Swinsty Reservoir causeway. Keep the reservoir to your right throughout the walk. The paths are level and straightforward, making navigation easy for everyone.
After the causeway, enter the woodland. Walk along the reservoir’s eastern shores until you reach Swinsty Cottage. From here, proceed across Swinsty Embankment. Once on the other side, head north. This path will guide you to the historic Swinsty Hall.
From Swinsty Hall, set your direction north-west. Follow the Six Dales Trail as it winds through Swinsty Moor Plantation. You’ll then arrive at the southern tip of Fewston Embankment. Cross it.
Lastly, immerse yourself again in the serene woodland. Track the path along the reservoir’s north-eastern edges. Soon, you’ll find yourself back at the starting point, the northern car park. This Swinsty Reservoir circular walk promises an easy yet picturesque journey around Nidderdale’s water wonder.
Swinsty Reservoir Circular Walk: Maps and Tools
Visit either the OS Maps website or the Outdooractive website to view this walking route in greater detail. Both platforms offer a range of features, including the ability to print the route, download it to your device, and export the route as a GPX file. You can also watch a 3D fly-over and share the route on social media.
Swinsty Reservoir Circular Walk: Distance, Duration, Statistics
Distance: 3¼ miles
Distance: 5¼ kilometres
Duration: 1½ hours
Ascent: 178 feet
Ascent: 54 metres
Type: Circular walk
About Swinsty Reservoir
Tucked away in the captivating Washburn Valley lies Swinsty Reservoir, not just a mere body of water but a historical beacon, an outdoor enthusiast’s haven, and a testament to the region’s bygone days. Situated less than 10 miles north of Otley and to the west of Harrogate, it offers mesmerising vistas across the waters and the enveloping landscape, especially from the embankment near the River Washburn. The Swinsty Reservoir circular walk is undoubtedly one of the most splendid ways to immerse oneself in this scenic beauty.
Established in 1871, the creation of Swinsty Reservoir was the culmination of a remarkable seven-year project spearheaded by the Leeds Waterworks Company. This ambitious venture saw the efforts of roughly 300 workers under the supervision of Robert Brooks, with expert consultations from Thomas Hawksley of Westminster and Edward Filliter of Leeds. This construction not only reshaped the serene valley but also profoundly influenced the lives of its inhabitants.
The adjacent settlement, known as ‘The Huts,’ accommodated the workforce. It was partially constructed using materials from a dismantled water mill from the valley. Throughout the building process, a narrow-gauge railway was established, procuring two locomotives for the transportation of construction materials; the first in 1873 and the subsequent one in 1875.
This vast endeavour had a two-fold impact on the local populace. While individuals like John Dickinson captured joyful moments, such as Christmas Day concerts by the waterworks band or a sports day on Swinsty Moor, there were less favourable effects too. For instance, the local inn at Timble witnessed an influx of ‘rough navvies’.
By 1878, the construction of Swinsty Reservoir was complete. The huts were subsequently dismantled, and the reservoir started its filling process. Presently, it holds approximately 866 million gallons and stretches over 63 hectares.
However, the Swinsty Reservoir circular walk offers more than just breathtaking views. Beneath the reservoir’s surface remain the echoes of New Hall, once a residence of the Fairfax family. Nearby, in the village of Timble, history recalls instances where women were twice accused of witchcraft, an indictment made by the poet Edward Fairfax of the same family.
Now, Swinsty Reservoir, accompanied by its adjacent Fewston Reservoir, stands as a favoured destination for nature aficionados and adventure seekers. Both the Swinsty and Fewston Reservoir walks serve as major draws. Be it meandering around the pristine reservoir trails or wandering through the neighbouring fields and woodlands, these routes entice walkers, cyclists, horseback riders, and even fishing enthusiasts on the hunt for quality course and fly fishing.
Recommended Ordnance Survey Map
The best map to use on this walk is the Ordnance Survey map of Lower Wharfedale & Washburn Valley, reference OS Explorer 297, scale 1:25,000. It clearly displays footpaths, rights of way, open access land and vegetation on the ground, making it ideal for walking, running and hiking. The map can be purchased from Amazon in either a standard, paper version or a weatherproof, laminated version, as shown below.
Swinsty Reservoir Walk: My Photos
Looking south from Swinsty Reservoir’s causeway, pointing towards Swinsty Embankment.
A woodland walk on the south-eastern side of Swinsty Reservoir.
Swinsty Cottage, nestled at the easternmost edge of Swinsty Embankment.
The pedestrian crossing atop Swinsty Embankment.
A view over Swinsty Embankment’s wall, providing a northerly panorama of Swinsty Reservoir.
The historic Swinsty Hall, property of England football manager Gareth Southgate.
The public footpath meandering through the estate of Swinsty Hall.
The Six Dales Trail cutting through Swinsty Moor Plantation on Swinsty Reservoir’s western flank.
The journey through the woodland of Swinsty Moor Plantation via the Six Dales Trail, located on the western edge of Swinsty Reservoir.
A view of Fewston Reservoir from the southernmost point of Fewston Embankment. Check out my Fewston Reservoir Circular Walk: Great for Beginners and Children for a short walk around Fewston Reservoir.
A north-westward perspective of Fewston Reservoir from Fewston Embankment.
A glimpse from Fewston Embankment showing the River Washburn exiting Fewston Reservoir, meandering towards Swinsty Reservoir.
A pathway through the woodland at the northernmost point of Swinsty Reservoir.
The River Washburn’s confluence with Swinsty Reservoir.
The serene path tracing the northern shoreline of Swinsty Reservoir.