fewston and swinsty reservoirs from above

In the heart of the Washburn Valley, Yorkshire, there are 2 reservoirs next to each other, Fewston and Swinsty Reservoirs, that are a wonderful and beautiful walk for all standards.

You can choose to walk around both of them like I do, or you can choose to walk around just one of them. You can even wander off the edge of the water in lots of places to explore the woodlands and forests. Just one of the great things this place brings, is the variety on offer.

And as you shall see, my favourite times to walk around these reservoirs is at sunrise and sunset. It is so peaceful, calm and the colours are amazing.

dog paddling at fewston reservoir

It is also one of the most dog friendly walks you will find. If you are looking for somewhere to have an adventure at the same time as socialising your dog, then head here if you can.

Social Wellness Walks


Fewston and Swinsty Reservoirs are located 8 miles north of Otley, and close to the A59 at Blubberhouses.

If heading on the A59 they are in the middle of Harrogate and Bolton Abbey. If coming over the top from Otley then you have the gorgeous drive over Askwith Moor Road and over Low Snowdon before dropping down.

sunrise swinsty resrvoir

Car Parking

There are 3 car parks for walking around Fewston and Swinsty Reservoir and yes, they are all free with no charge. All 3 are at different points around the circular walk.

Swinsty and Fewston Reservoir Car park

This is the one I use myself normally. It is located right in the middle of both reservoirs and is very spacious with toilet facilities as well.

It is also the start point on the GPX route I have given below.

It is near the village of Timble and the nearest postcode is LS21 2NP.

Fewston Car Park

The easiest car park to get to is literally next to the A59 at Blubberhouses. Fewston Car Park and is at the top end of Fewston Reservoir.

However it is the smallest car park with space for less than 20 cars only.

The postcode is LS21 2NY

dog paddling in fewston reservoir

Swinsty Reservoir Car Park

This is the most secluded car park so to speak. Away from the main direct roads and is on the northern shore of Swinsty Reservoir.

It is this car park I used as the start point for the John O Gaunts Castle and Reservoir Walk.

The nearest postcode is HG3 1SU.

swinsty reservoir view

Walk Around Swinsty Reservoir 

Ok, back to the walk and the main car park. I do this walk anti clockwise so head off into the woods and around Swinsty Reservoir first.

The footpath is wide, clear and very well maintained, all credit to Yorkshire Water. The path around Swinsty is so well kept that it becomes very accessible. For wheelchairs and prams alike.

Keep the reservoir to your left, walk and enjoy every step.

Hidden at the end of the first section you come to the Elizabethan house hidden in the woods, Swinsty Hall. Turn left here to head directly by the water and turn right. You will see the dam that you need to walk over ahead.

view from the dam at swinsty reservoir

After crossing the dam, with huge views down the Washburn Valley, just keep following the path that encircles the reservoir, you cannot get lost.

The walk around Swinsty alone is about 3 miles so if you want to just do this reservoir on its own then when you get to the dam that separates both reservoirs, head along it back to the start.

But for me, I enjoy taking in Fewston too.

morning mist on fewston reservoir

Walk Around Fewston Reservoir

Leaving Swinsty and then walking beside Fewston brings in lots of variety. The path is still accessible but a few more, small, undulations and the views across Fewston are just as beautiful but has its own charm.

You just follow the well maintained path which has the woods and forests on your right and the water’s edge on your left. I love the northern edge of Fewston, it is quieter and full of nature.

The dogs absolutely love it. So many access areas to the water for them. They can paddle as much as they want.

sunset fewston reservoir


The path brings you out briefly onto the A59 at Blubberhouses before the turn around at the top end of the reservoir.

A great A59 landmark stands here, St Andrews Church.

st andrews church at blubberhouses

If you have ever drove the A59 between Harrogate and Skipton then you will have seen the sign and may have wondered about the unique name.

It comes from an old Anglo Saxon word, Bluberhus. Which means houses at the bubbling stream.

Back To The Start

The path from Blubberhouses back to the car park is different yet again. A lot more undulation and a lot more new forestation. A top tip is to wander off track where you are allowed and explore the forest tracks of the plantations.

forest at fewston and swinsty

A sunrise walk along here is beautiful with the sun rising over the water. Those misty autumn mornings are a treat here too.

For info, If you wanted to walk around Fewston on its own and not the full circular then you are looking at 4 miles, so Fewston is a bigger individual circular walk than Swinsty by 2 by a miles.

view of fields in the washburn valley

Back at the car park you can sit back and relax knowing you had a fantastic Yorkshire walk, with lots of variety and no huge climb either. The dogs loved it too for sure.

dogs in the woods at swinsty reservoir

There is normally always an ice cream van for refreshments in the car park selling ice creams, lollies or a cup of Yorkshire Tea.

Walking Route Details and GPX

map of fewston and swinty reservoirs walk

Distance: 6 miles

How long Does It Take: 3 hours

Download the GPX for the Fewston & Swinsty Circular Walk

Happy Walking!

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  1. Helen Clarkson says:

    I loved, ‘my sons were willing me on to walk and not take so many photographs’ as I have the same from my son!! Glad you did stop for photos as they are great! 🙂

    1. Claire Newman says:

      Thank you. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who gets this comment from their children!
      I’m glad you enjoyed reading the article and liked the photos.

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