ONE of the wonderful things about where we live is the huge variety of walking available right on the doorstep. And some of the best and most accessible walks are located around Yorkshire Water's reservoirs in the Washburn Valley, part of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Swinsty, Fewston and Thruscross reservoirs are wonderfully accessible, at Blubberhouses, just off the A59 between Skipton and Harrogate, with free parking, and parts are wheelchair accessible. They can get very busy, but there are breathtaking views, and are well worth a visit.
I set off around Fewston Reservoir, and seeing as the expected rain stayed away, decided to take in the adjacent Swinsty Reservoir as well, so doubling a three-mile walk to a more respectable six miles. Even on a somewhat wet and cold early spring day, both reservoirs were busy with walkers, joggers, people with pushchairs and some people in wheelchairs going around the more accessible Swinsty.
Parking is excellent, and the paths level, and at the end of the walk, there is the stunning grade one listed Swinsty Hall, a fabulous Jacobean mansion, formerly owned by former Middlesbrough Football Club manager Gareth Southgate.
To find out more about walking and other leisure pursuits on Yorkshire Water land, visit the website yorkshirewater.com/walks
Step by step
1. Set off from Swinsty Moor Car Park, at the southern end of Fewston Reservoir. Cross over the road and enter the woodland, with reservoir on your right. Continue along path as it follows closely to the water, with fields and woodland on your left.
2. You will eventually come to to the end of the reservoir, where there is another car park. Cross over at the end of the reservoir, up a short flight of steps, and turn right onto the pavement next to the A59 for a very short distance, before descending some steps off to the right and rejoining the reservoir. Continue along the path once again, this time with the reservoir on your right.
3. After about a mile and a half, you will leave the edge of the water and follow the path as it goes sharply right up into some woodland and exiting onto the road leading onto the reservoir bridge - you can either walk across the bridge here and return to the car park, or continue around Swinsty.
4. Keep following the path as it continues around the reservoir. It will eventually come to a car park with picnic area, continue over bridge, and rejoin path next to water. Cross over the end of the reservoir and then go right, now with water to your right. You will come to Swinsty Hall on your left, follow path back to car park.
Area: Washburn Valley, Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Distance: three or six miles, depending on whether both reservoirs are walked
Level of difficulty: Easy
Terrain: Mostly maintained paths
Parking: Free parking at Swinsty Moor Car Park at southern end of Fewston Reservoir. Beware of 2.2 metre high barrier.
Refreshments/facilities: Seasonal icecream van at car park, where there is also toilets.
OS Map: Explorer 297