IT'S not often you see a decommissioned reservoir and the remains of an ancient hunting lodge all in the same day, but that's just what Lesley Tate found in a walk around John O Gaunts and Beaver Dyke reservoirs in Nidderdale.

ON a less than perfect Bank Holiday, I set off to discover the Beaver Dyke reservoirs in Nidderdale. Interestingly, what was not shown on the map was that one of the two Yorkshire Water reservoirs was in fact called the John O Gaunt Reservoir, which was full of water as a reservoir should be, while the Beaver Dyke Reservoir next to it, was empty. The route to the reservoirs is from Swinsty Reservoir, which was packed with bank holiday walkers, and along the Dales Way, and within minutes of leaving Swinsty behind me, the crowds disappeared. The John O Gaunts Reservoir is clearly named after the remains of John Of Gaunts Castle, which you pass along the route - and what an interesting place it is too. I was fascinated by some of the trees along the path whose exposed roots were caught up in former boundary walls. Yorkshire Water started the five year process to de-commission Beaver Dyke Reservoir in 2013. It owns and manages around 120 reservoirs, many of which were built in the 1800s and present significant maintenance and repair challenges. Very rarely, they become uneconomical to maintain to modern standards so they are decommissioned. Decommissioning usually involves reducing the volume of water to avoid any flood risk should the structure fail. This can present an opportunity to create good habitats for Yorkshire's wildlife. To discover more Yorkshire Water leisure activities, visit the website

Step by step

1 From Stack House Car Park, turn right and go over road bridge. Just over bridge, take the left path marked Dales Way Link, Brame Lane. The path continues alongside Swinsty Reservoir for a short while, before bearing off to the right and climbing up into woodland. Keeping on the well trodden path, you will come to a gate. Go through gate and continue along marked path which crosses over a field and exits at corner on left, and then to left of another field and through gate next to farm buildings. Join track and cross road to Sun Inn.

2 Stay on Dales Way, and pass to side of Sun Inn and some houses, before path goes off to left and crosses over what can be a fairly boggy stretch. Keep to the path as it heads towards some houses, and through gate to path. Stay on Dales Way path which passes though a wooded area to the first of the two reservoirs.

3 Follow the path as it drops down towards John O Gaunts Reservoir and continue along the perimeter until you reach the start of Beaver Dyke Reservoir. Cross over the bridge - now leaving the Dales Way - and pick up the footpath on other side, heading off to the right. Keep to the path as it passes next to some farm buildings currently under renovation.

4 Next to the path are the remains of John Of Gaunt's Castle, which is now in private ownership and fenced off. Stay on the path as it now drops down to the other side of John Gaunts Reservoir before retracing your steps back along the Dales Way footpath and back to the car park at Swinsty.


Location: Nidderdale

Start/finish: Swinsty, off the B6451, off the A59 Skipton to Harrogate road.

Distance: About four miles, allow a couple of hours

Difficulty level: Easy

Terrain: tracks, fields, marshy land - can be boggy in parts

Livestock: Plenty of sheep, keep dogs well under control

Stiles/gates: Easy

Parking: Free parking at Stack House Car Park, Swinsty Reservoir (can get very busy)

Refreshments: None on route, take a picnic

OS Map: OS Explorer 297

Fitfacts: 902 steps