Fewston and Swinsty Reservoirs were built more than 150 years ago and now provide water for Leeds.

From a walker’s point of view, the walk round both reservoirs is most interesting for the myriad of wildlife and pleasant scenery. The paths are excellent and a credit to Yorkshire Water who own the land and preserve the paths.

Start the walk at the car park to the west end of Fewston Reservoir. Join the excellent footpath/cycleway to the south of Fewston, part of the Six Trails National Trail heading up Nidderdale. The path meets the reservoir immediately and straight away it is clear that birds, flowers and the forces of nature will dominate the walk.  On the water the popular wildfowl of Canadian and greylag geese, mallards and coots reside, but look closer for swans and cormorants.

Keep to the shores for one-and-a-half miles to the end of Fewston before a small stream leads in to the woods at Swinsty Reservoir. On the right is Swinsty Hall, difficult to see through the beech, conifer and oak, but once owned by the England manager Gareth Southgate.

The track is still excellent and as it approaches the dam at the east end of Swinsty it is usually full of anglers; more than 6,000 brown trout were added to the reservoir pre-covid.

A few hundred metres beyond the hall the track emerges from the woodland at the dam. Turn right and a short sharp climb will take you to the pretty village of Timble (you can cross the dam but I prefer a short, extra exploration). For an extra mile drop down the path next to the outflow of Swinsty, cross the river and then return up the west bank to the reservoir.

From Swinsty dam turn north and follow the north east banks of both reservoirs back to the car park. The track sticks close to the shore for one mile before crossing a road bridge. Turn left on to a path through the woods. Set on a promontory this is a nice spot to sit and watch the bird life on the reservoir. From here 200 metres from the shore is a small cluster of houses which make up Fewston, the highlight being the beautiful church of St Michael and St Lawrence.

Back to the shoreline and the path (complete with small beaches) crosses a road between the reservoirs before following the wide path through woodland alive with song birds, mainly warblers and finches. The best path sticks to the shoreline, do not be tempted to head up in to the woods. The paths in the woods tend to run out and you end up battling through the undergrowth. The path finishes alongside the A59 but fortunately no road walking is needed.

Fact Box

Distance: Roughly 7.5 miles (includes additional one mile beyond the dam at Swinsty).

Height to Climb: 100m (330 feet).

Start: SE 170552. There is a car park at the west end of Fewston Reservoir.

Difficulty: Easy walking on good paths throughout.

Refreshments: It is only 6 miles to Harrogate.

Be prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer 297) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass. You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk. Please observe the Countryside Code and park sensibly.

Jonathan runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales:

• He has published 3 books on walking in the Dales; ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’, ‘The Dales 30’ mountains and the ‘Walks without Stiles’ book.

• All these books (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website.

• Book a Navigation (Map and Compass Skills) Training day in Long Preston. First Available Date is 15th July. All dates and details are on the Where2walk website.

Where2walk.co.uk also features 100’s of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.