Swinsty Reservoir is an uber-picturesque reservoir near Harrogate in Yorkshire. By doing the circular Swinsty Reservoir Walk, you’ll get to walk around the reservoir, exploring it in all its glory. Whilst, if you’re keen on a longer walk, it’s also possible to combine walking around both Swinsty Reservoir and neighbouring Fewston Reservoir (AKA the Swinsty and Fewston Reservoir Walk).
In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting and walking at Swinsty Reservoir. To cover all bases, we’ll talk about both the Swinsty Reservoir Walk as well as the Swinsty and Fewston Reservoir Walk.
Table of Contents
About Swinsty Reservoir
When it comes to reservoirs near Harrogate and Leeds, Swinsty Reservoir is one of the best to visit. The reservoir is really well managed and maintained by Yorkshire Water. There are wide and even paths that encircle the reservoir, making it super accessible to all.
Indeed, many walkers and runners visit the reservoir to do the circular route around it. Whilst, as mentioned, some people will extend their walk or run, completing a circular route around both Swinsty and Fewston Reservoir.
So, exactly where is Swinsty Reservoir located?
Location: Where Is Swinsty Reservoir?
The reservoir is located in Washburn Valley, which makes up the lower third of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Nidderdale AONB is part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
To help get your bearings, please click on the map below to access an interactive map on Google Maps.
Route Information: Swinsty Reservoir Walk
Let’s look at some trail specs for this reservoir walk.
- Type: Circular
- Distance: 5.5km (3.4 miles)
- Time: 1.5–2 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 205m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Swinsty Reservoir Car Park or Swinsty and Fewston Reservoir Car Park
Swinsty Reservoir Walk Map (GPX)
Here’s a map of this reservoir walk. Honestly speaking, trail navigation for this walk is very straightforward and self-explanatory. You’ll simply walk around the reservoir! But just in case, you can download the GPX of the trail from this map on AllTrails.
Below, we’ll briefly talk about this fun circular walk. Here, our intention isn’t to thoroughly describe the walk in a step-by-step fashion. Rather, our aim here is to provide a short overview with some photos to inspire you to visit.
Walking Around Swinsty Reservoir
Whichever car park you start from, you can do the walk in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. It really doesn’t matter which direction you choose to do the walk in.
Personally, Beck, Rachel (my sister-in-law), Lauren (my twin sister) and I parked at the Swinsty Reservoir Car Park and walked around the reservoir in a clockwise direction. If you follow in our footsteps, from this car park, you’ll join the Swinsty Path and enjoy lovely views of the reservoir almost immediately. You’ll then walk through pleasant dense woodlands.
Shortly after, you’ll arrive at the dam at the southern end of the reservoir. This is where I decided to fly our drone, Johnny (named by Beck after Johnny 5 from the Short Circuit films) to photograph some far-sweeping views across and over the reservoir.
From the dam, you’ll also enjoy splendid views of Washburn Valley. Certainly, for much of the walk, you won’t enjoy sweeping views as you’ll walk among thick woodlands. So, the far-sweeping views of Washburn Valley are a definite highlight of the walk.
After crossing the dam, you’ll soon pass Swinsty Hall, which is an Elizabethan house hidden in the woods. Once you’ve passed Swinsty Hall, the path then veers further away from the reservoir but still runs fairly parallel to it. Eventually, you’ll reach the Swinsty and Fewston Reservoir Car Park, where you can use the toilet facilities or stop for ice cream at the Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream Farm van.
Once you’ve passed through the car park, you’ll then turn right onto the Fewston Path. This path cuts in between Fewston and Swinsty Reservoirs. So, on this path, you’ll enjoy views of both reservoirs. A highlight along the Fewston Path is seeing the superb overflow of Fewston Reservoir. The overflow is where water cascades down from one reservoir to the other.
At the northern end of the Fewston Path, you’ll turn right to continue the circular walk around Swinsty Reservoir. From this point on, you’ll continue to walk through lovely dense woodlands along a meandering and undulating path. Impressive views of the reservoir come in and out of sight as you follow along the eastern edge of the water.
Eventually, you’ll completely encircle the reservoir, completing the circular walk! If you didn’t already have an ice cream, make sure to grab one from the Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream van at the Swinsty Reservoir Car Park. There are picnic tables and a small ‘beach’ where you can relax and eat your ice cream!
Route Information: Swinsty and Fewston Reservoir Walk
Other than the singular reservoir walk, a popular option is to walk around both Swinsty and Fewston Reservoirs (AKA the Fewston and Swinsty Reservoir Walk). Personally, this is what Beck and I (and our twin siblings) did during our visit. Let’s look at the trail specs for the double reservoir walk below.
- Type: Circular
- Distance: 10.6km (6.6 miles)
- Time: 3 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 295m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Fewston Car Park, Swinsty and Fewston Reservoir Car Park or Swinsty Reservoir Car Park
Swinsty and Fewston Reservoir Walk Map (GPX)
Here’s a map of this double reservoir walk. Again, trail navigation for this walk is fairly simple and self-explanatory as you’ll simply walk around both reservoirs! In any case, you can download the GPX of the trail from this AllTrails map.
Below, we’ll briefly tell you about this circular double reservoir walk. Again, we’re not going to exhaustively detail the walk. Rather, we’ll provide a brief overview with some photos to motivate you to do the longer double reservoir route that we did!
Walking Around Both Reservoirs
It’s possible to this double reservoir walk from one of three car parks (click here for more details about these car parks). As mentioned, we started the double reservoir walk from the Swinsty Reservoir Car Park, following Swinsty Reservoir in a clockwise direction, before arriving at Fewston Reservoir. If you follow in our footsteps, you’ll soon pass the overflow as you continue along the Fewston Path alongside the southern edge of Fewston Reservoir.
By walking around Fewston Reservoir, you’ll get to explore this equally impressive reservoir and all of the lovely woodlands surrounding it. Along the way, you’ll briefly pass through the small village of Blubberhouses. You’ll then walk along the eastern edge of Fewston Reservoir. Eventually, you’ll rejoin the Swinsty Path to complete the longer circular walk.
How to Get There: Swinsty Reservoir Directions
The easiest and quickest way to get to the reservoir is to drive there yourself. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, then we recommend hiring a car using DiscoverCars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Discover Cars for very reasonable prices. Also, the website is user-friendly and booking online is super easy. Have a look at car hire from Manchester.
Although it’s possible to get to the reservoir using public transport, we don’t recommend it. Depending on where you’re travelling from in the UK, you’ll likely have a slow and tedious journey to get there.
As far as we’re aware, there isn’t any public transport going directly to Swinsty Reservoir. Basically, you’d have to get a bus to Blubberhouses, which is at the northern end of Fewston Reservoir. So, in reality, you’d have to do the double reservoir walk as you’d need to walk by Fewston Reservoir to get to Swinsty Reservoir.
Buses to Blubberhoues tend to only run on the weekend. Currently, it’s the number 59 bus travelling between Harrogate and Skipton, which stops at Blubberhouses. For more information, check out the Dales Bus timetable here.
Car Parks: Where to Park at Swinsty Reservoir
When it comes to car parking, there are actually a few options. Let’s look at all of the parking options below to help you decide where is best for you to park.
As of mid-2023, all of the car parks mentioned below are free. But, unfortunately, there are plans to turn these free car parks into pay and display car parks. Admittedly, this has caused quite an uproar in the local community! There is no confirmed date for this change. Please let us know in the comments if you had to pay for parking at any of these car parks.
Swinsty Reservoir Car Park
The Swinsty Reservoir Car Park is a logical choice for accessing the reservoir. It’s a large car park and a popular place to park for walking around the reservoir. When it comes to Swinsty Reservoir Car Park opening times, it seems to be open 24 hours a day. The same opening times also apply to the other car parks we’ll discuss below.
Swinsty and Fewston Reservoir Car Park
Also known as the Swinsty Moor and Fewston Reservoir Car Park and Swinsty Moor Car Park, the Swinsty and Fewston Reservoir Car Park is located between both reservoirs. So, it’s also a convenient place to park to walk around either or both reservoirs. It’s another large car park and unlike the other car parks, it features a toilet block.
Fewston Car Park
Also known as the Blubberhouses Car Park, the Fewston Car Park is located at the northern end of Fewston Reservoir. This is only a suitable option if you want to do the double reservoir walk. It’s by far the smallest car park with only around 20 spaces. So, if you want to use this car park, we recommend arriving early or late.
Other Reservoir Walks in the Yorkshire Dales
If you want to do other nearby reservoir walks, then you’ll have to see more of the spectacular Yorkshire Dales National Park. Below, we’ve listed some of the other best reservoir walks to do in Yorkshire Dales and the Nidderdale AONB.
- Grimwith Reservoir Walk: this is a fantastic circular walk, which is definitely one of the best reservoir walks in the Dales.
- Embsay Crag and Embsay Reservoir Walk: by climbing Embsay Crag, you’ll pass by Embsay Reservoir, before enjoying stellar views of the reservoir.
- Gouthwaite Reservoir: this is a lesser-known reservoir walk in the Nidderdale AONB. We don’t recommend this walk as it involves a fair amount of road walking.
- Scar House and Angram Reservoir Walk: this remote double reservoir walk is a great option if you really want to get off the beaten track in the Nidderdale AONB.
Otherwise, for other fantastic reservoir walks in the northwest of England, consider the Dovestone Reservoir Walk in the Peak District, the Stocks Reservoir Walk in the Forest of Bowland or the Entwistle Reservoir Walk in the West Pennine Moors.
What to Wear and Take
These are our hiking gear essentials for this walk.
Osprey Skarab 30
The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.
Osprey Ultralight Raincover
A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.
BUFF Original Ecostretch
The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.
To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about this reservoir walk.
Can You Walk Around Swinsty Reservoir?
Yes, absolutely. There is a well-maintained path that circles the reservoir.
How Long Is the Walk Around Swinsty Reservoir?
The Swinsty Reservoir walk length is approx. 5.5km (3.4 miles), taking between 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours to complete.
Is the Swinsty Reservoir Walk Easy?
Yes, the walk is fairly easy. Of course, route difficulty is very subjective. But, in the grand scheme of walks, this reservoir walk has a relatively short distance with only a gradual and steady elevation profile.
How Long Is the Walk Around Swinsty and Fewston?
This walk is longer with a distance of 10.6km (6.6 miles), which takes around three hours to complete.
Is Swinsty Reservoir Walk Open?
Yes, the reservoir is usually always open. Of course, it does occasionally close for construction work.
Do You Have to Pay at Swinsty Reservoir?
Currently, as of mid-2023, there are no costs associated with visiting or walking at the reservoir.
Where Do You Park For Swinsty Reservoir?
Please read the Car Parks: Where to Park section for more information about parking.
Is Swinsty Reservoir Car Park Free?
Currently, it’s free to park at all of the car parks mentioned in this guide. But, there are plans to turn these car parks into pay and display car parks.
Are There Toilets at Swinsty Reservoir?
There is a toilet block at the Swinsty and Fewston Reservoir Car Park.
Can You Swim in Swinsty Reservoir?
No, swimming isn’t allowed at this reservoir. This is for safety and environmental reasons. Also, your dog shouldn’t swim in the reservoir either. Blue-green algae can form on the surface of the reservoir, which is poisonous, so dogs shouldn’t swim in or drink the water.
Can You Cyle Around Swinsty Reservoir?
Cycling and also horse riding have their own permitted tracks in the woodlands surrounding the reservoir.
Is the Swinsty Reservoir Walk Wheelchair and Pram Friendly?
Yes, the paths around the reservoir are both wheelchair and pram friendly. Indeed, the reservoir walk is very accessible.
Is Swinsty Reservoir Dog Friendly?
Yes, you can certainly bring pooch on a walk around this reservoir. But, don’t let your dog swim in or drink the water as this could be harmful to doggo.
How Deep Is Swinsty Reservoir?
The average depth of the reservoir is around 6 metres, whilst one of the deepest points is around 18 metres.
Other Yorkshire Dales Guides
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- Grassington: Everything You Need to Know About Grassington
- Hawes: The 16 Best Things To Do In Hawes
- Ingleton: 10 Awesome Things To Do In Ingleton
- Masham: Everything You Need to Know About Masham
- Buckden: The 5 Best Things To Do In Buckden, Yorkshire
- Keld: The 5 Best Things To Do in Keld, North Yorkshire
- Clapham: The Top 13 Things To Do During A Visit to Clapham, Yorkshire
- Ribblehead: 15 Awesome Things To Do In Ribblehead
- Swinsty Reservoir fishing: one of the most popular things to do at the reservoir is to fish. Fly, spinning and coarse fishing are allowed at the reservoir. Click here for more information about fishing at the reservoir.
- Where to eat and drink nearby: make sure to pop into the Washburn Heritage Centre (AKA the Swinsty Reservoir Cafe) after the walk for a hot beverage or cake. But, keep in mind, the cafe is only open at the weekend. Otherwise, head to The Sun Inn for a pint and pub feed. The pub is usually open from Wednesday to Sunday.
- Events: for a unique experience, you can partake in an event at the reservoir such as the Trail Run organised by It’s Grim Up North Running.
Please leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.