Enjoy Both Fewston and Swinsty Reservoirs on the 7-Mile Swinsty Reservoir Walk
Start your 7-mile Swinsty Reservoir walk from the reservoir’s northern car park. Exit the car park onto the nearby road. Turn right and cross the Swinsty Reservoir causeway.
Next, your route takes a southward turn. Follow the eastern banks of the reservoir until you reach the quaint Swinsty Cottage. Press on, crossing the impressive Swinsty Embankment. Upon reaching the other side, shift your path northwards, leading you to the historic Swinsty Hall.
From Swinsty Hall, set your course north-west on the Six Dales Trail. This leg of the Swinsty Reservoir walk threads you through the beautiful Swinsty Moor Plantation, culminating at the southern end of Fewston Embankment.
Continue your Swinsty Reservoir walk heading north-west. Follow the picturesque banks of Fewston Reservoir. Your next stop is the car park at Blubberhouses. From here, climb the steps leading to the main road. Make a right turn, cross the River Washburn bridge, and then return to the marked footpath on the right.
The final stretch of your Swinsty Reservoir walk skirts along the northern edge of Fewston Reservoir. Keep the reservoir to your right and advance to the northern tip of the Fewston Embankment. Your journey rounds off along the northern shoreline of Swinsty Reservoir, bringing you back to the car park.
Swinsty Reservoir 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 Walk: Distance, Duration, Statistics
Distance: 6¾ miles
Distance: 10½ kilometres
Duration: 3 hours
Ascent: 438 feet
Ascent: 134 metres
Type: Circular walk
About Swinsty Reservoir
Swinsty Reservoir, a hidden gem nestled in the stunning Washburn Valley, is more than just a body of water; it’s a fascinating piece of history, a sanctuary for outdoor enthusiasts, and a window into the region’s past. Less than 10 miles north of Otley and west of Harrogate, Swinsty Reservoir offers breathtaking views across the water and the surrounding landscape, particularly from the embankment near the River Washburn. One of the best ways to explore this picturesque setting is by embarking on the Swinsty Reservoir walk.
With its inception in 1871, the Swinsty Reservoir was the product of a monumental seven-year undertaking by the Leeds Waterworks Company. The company employed around 300 men, managed by Robert Brooks, and drew expertise from consultants Thomas Hawksley of Westminster and Edward Filliter of Leeds. The construction transformed the tranquil valley and left an indelible impact on the lives of the local residents.
The nearby hamlet, known as ‘The Huts,’ housed the workforce and was built partly using materials from a disassembled water mill in the valley. During the construction, a narrow-gauge railway was set up, and two locomotives were bought to aid in the transport of construction materials, the first arriving in 1873 and the second in 1875.
The effects of this major operation were mixed for the local community. Some residents, like John Dickinson, fondly documented moments of joy brought about by the construction, like Christmas Day music performances by the waterworks band and a waterworks sports day on Swinsty Moor. However, there were also negative impacts, like the occupation of the local inn at Timble by ‘rough navvies.’
Swinsty Reservoir was completed in 1878, after which the huts were removed, and the filling of the reservoir began. Today, the reservoir boasts a capacity of around 866 million gallons and spans an area of 63 hectares.
The Swinsty Reservoir walk reveals more than the reservoir’s visual appeal. Beneath its waters lie remnants of New Hall, once a Fairfax family residence. It was in the nearby village of Timble that women were twice tried for witchcraft, accused by Edward Fairfax, a member of the family and a poet.
Today, Swinsty Reservoir, together with the neighbouring Fewston Reservoir, serves as a popular spot for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Both the Swinsty Reservoir walk and Fewston Reservoir walk are irresistible attractions. Whether it’s around the well-surfaced reservoir paths or through the nearby fields and woods, these walks lure walkers, cyclists, horse riders, and even anglers seeking high-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 Six Dales Trail cutting through Swinsty Moor Plantation on Swinsty Reservoir’s western flank.
A view of Fewston Reservoir from the southernmost point of Fewston Embankment.
The leisurely trail near the southern extremity of Fewston Reservoir.
The route bisecting the woodland on Fewston Reservoir’s western boundary.
The south-eastward view from the western coastline of Fewston Reservoir.
The forest pathway adjacent to Fewston Reservoir’s northern end, situated south of the A59.
A snapshot of Fewston Reservoir, seen from one of the numerous benches positioned along the path.
The south-eastward view from Fewston Reservoir’s northern boundary towards Fewston Embankment.
The leisurely journey along the northern rim of Fewston Reservoir.
A vista across Fewston Reservoir from its northern coastline.
A downward view of Reservoir House at the northern extremity of Fewston Embankment.
The River Washburn’s confluence with Swinsty Reservoir.
Amazon’s Top Walking Boots: Four Standout Choices for Men and Women
For walking and hiking, the right boots are essential for both comfort and safety. While Amazon boasts a wide range, certain boots emerge as top-sellers. From those, here are four I personally favour. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a small commission from any purchases made through the links provided. This helps support the upkeep of this website. Rest assured, you won’t pay a penny extra, but your purchase will contribute to keeping my site running smoothly. Happy walking!
These fully waterproof leather walking boots feature a Gore-Tex lining, ensuring no water enters whilst allowing feet to breathe and stay cool. Made from full-grain leather, they promise unmatched durability and comfort. The boots come with memory foam tongues and cuffs that mould to your feet for a tailored fit, and the Vibram Hillmaster outsoles offer confidence on challenging terrains.
Made from durable suede and abrasion-resistant textile, these men’s hiking boots are both lightweight and sturdy. The upper material is enhanced by a 360° full rubber sheath. Their dual-layer midsole with Bilight technology ensures ergonomic cushioning and grip, especially on extended hikes. The Vibram Wrapping Thread Combi outsoles allow a natural walking feel, and the Gore-Tex lining provides waterproofing, breathability, and optimal weather protection. Furthermore, the patented Salewa 3F system ensures flexibility, a secure heel grip, and a blister-free fit.
Specially designed for women, these hiking boots offer waterproofing and breathability, thanks to their Gore-Tex lining. Crafted from full-grain abrasion-resistant leather, they’re durable enough for the toughest hikes. The Supalite soles ensure stability and traction, and the EVA midsoles add comfort for extended walks.
These hiking boots incorporate a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, blending breathability with superior waterproof performance. The combination of pigskin leather and mesh on the uppers, along with the suede outer material, ensure durability and style. Enhancements include 100% recycled laces, webbing, and mesh lining. Additionally, bellows tongues, protective toe caps, and Vibram TC5+ rubber soles ensure protection and ease on any terrain.