There is something relaxing and invigorating about being able to be near the water and enjoying the great outdoors. I love walking around the reservoirs, lakes and dams as they have the calming scene with still water but also so much more to see with the greenery and wildlife.
While the beaches in Yorkshire are stunning, you might prefer something a little different and calming, especially as the weather gets colder. The reservoirs have much calmer waters, shelter from the surrounding woodland and can often be dramatically beautiful.
These were places I spent much of my childhood and is a place we really enjoy going to get a little fresh air, exercise and to see somewhere new. It is also a great place to go as a family as children can see plenty in terms of nature, animals and get plenty of space to run and jump.
Whether you are looking for somewhere to have a gentle stroll or somewhere to really challenge your skills there is a reservoir for you.
There are many stunning places within Yorkshire that are within a reasonable driving distance that can make you think you’re in another country altogether. Yorkshire is so traditional but so diverse it has plenty to offer anyone no matter what they are looking to do.
If you love experiencing the outdoors and visiting from of the natural wonders Yorkshire has to offer you might want to start exploring some of the stunning waterfalls around such as Aysgarth Falls, Harmby and Cauldron Falls.
If outdoor adventures aren’t your thing you might want to explore more of the prettiest villages in Yorkshire and spot some traditional tea shops and bakeries.
Many of the reservoirs have a circular walk or walks within the perimeter that leads off to a start/endpoint or to another location altogether. I will be talking about where you can park if it is dog friendly and the full address to get there.
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1. Lindley Wood Reservoir
Lindley Wood Reservoir is one of the stunning reservoirs to visit in the Washburn Valley area. Located 10 miles from Harrogate and north of Otley this collection of reservoirs presents the best of the serene nature and provides stunning views for its visitors.
The reservoirs are owned by Yorkshire Water and are a source for the surrounding areas. Lindley Wood Reservoir was the first of the four to be built and was built between 1869 and 1876. It is also the most southerly of the four and is roughly two and a half miles downstream.
While there is no designated walk or pathway around the reservoir, many have taken to walking in the surrounding area which gives stunning views of the reservoir and valley itself. The walk is fairly easy and simple and requires little effort, it crossed the Washburn Valley and over the reservoir itself.
Due to the reservoir having no definitive path to walk along and around this may be a little trickier for those while wheelchairs and pushchairs. If you are using either I would look at doing Fewston or Swinsty over this one. Also unlike the other 3 reservoirs in the area, there is no dedicated car park. Instead, many visit the reservoir park on the roadside of the viaduct at the northern end.
Dogs are welcome to join the walk as long as they are well trained, a lead is kept on hand and any mess is cleaned up after.
Address: Leathley Lane, Leathley, West Yorkshire, LS21 2LA
2. Winterburn Reservoir
Winterburn Reservoir is a lovely spot located in Winterburn, Malhamdale in North Yorkshire. The reservoir itself was constructed between 1885 and 1893. The engineer’s Henry Rofe and Edward Filliter created this reservoir to help maintain levels on the Leeds to Liverpool Canal.
The reservoir doesn’t include a dedicated car park many people choose to park on the roadside by the Angel Inn and begin their walk there. This is the perfect place to park as you can hop into the pub after your walk for a nice cold drink before driving home, better yet you can enjoy a nice pun lunch.
The walk is roughly 6 miles long and takes anything from 1 hour 40 minutes upwards. It all depends on your pace and how many times you stop to take in the gorgeous scenery. There is no designated path or surfaced path to follow so this is for those who really enjoy getting off the beaten track and exploring deeper into nature.
I would suggest walking shoes or boots for this walk, especially if you plan to visit in the colder/wetter months of the year as the mud and wet can really get to your feet. There are some fantastic places along this walk you can stop to have a picnic but make sure you take all your rubbish home as there are no public bins around to dispose of rubbish.
Along with stunning views, there are cute little bridges to cross located at the top of the reservoir and some grassy banks perfect for that picnic or cup of tea. Some of the walk takes you through fields and follows farm tracks so be sure to keep all dogs on leads.
Address: Angel Inn, Back Ln, Hetton, Skipton BD23 6LT or the direct road to the reservoir is Hills Lane 11 minutes drive from the pub.
3. Embsay Reservoir
Located in Skipton the reservoir is home to a number of enthusiasts from walking to fishing. The reservoir is owned by Yorkshire Water and supplies the water to north and west Skipton. Embsay is a small but mighty reservoir that has a walk of roughly 1 mile long.
The walk is fairly easy with varied footing and very pleasant. There is a short climb up to Embsay Crag which is definitely worth the climb.
The walk itself is easy, varied and pleasant. The short climb of Embsay Crag is definitely worth doing. There you can experience some amazing views over the surrounding area. There is a car park nearer the top of Embsay Crag so if you are looking for more of a challenge this walk down and around the reservoir might be for you.
Parking is available at the onsite car park and is free. If the car park is full please don’t park on the verges. Please respect other drivers, visitors and the locals.
Due to the reservoir being owned by Yorkshire Water they encourage responsible dog ownership, please keep all dogs on leads and clean up after them. They ask to take extra care with dogs during bird breeding season and lambing season as this can cause disruption and trauma to the animals.
Address: Skipton, BD23 6PR
4. Eccup Reservoir Circular
Eccup Reservoir is based in Leeds near the village of Eccup. Known as one of the best reservoir walks in Yorkshire this picturesque reservoir will not disappoint. If you are looking to stay closer to home or just fancy exploring a new spot this is the place for you.
The walk is roughly 5 miles long which is perfect for anyone looking to really stretch themselves and have a nice day out. There are other paths that you can join on the Dales Way if you wish to expand your walk and take in more of the stunning scenery.
The route isn’t suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs which is something to take into account when looking to explore some of the best reservoirs in Yorkshire.
If you are looking for a family-friendly, pushchair and wheelchair friendly place to go for a walk, there is a lake with a well surfaced path around to follow at Roundhay Park, Leeds. It isn’t far from the city and has plenty to offer families, such as an ice cream man, fields to play in, a park and even a little train to ride.
Many have said that the best time to visit this incredible reservoir is at sunrise or sunset as it is truly breathtaking. I can also agree as it is wonderful, though I think any point of the day is a great time to visit as you get to see so much of the natural beauty and wildlife in the area.
Eccup reservoir is also a wonderful place to stop by even just for a short walk from your car to see the red kites flying above along with any other species around.
Dogs are welcome to the area and around the reservoir but they are not permitted to swim in the water. Please be respectful of other visitors and have a doggy bag and lead ready to hand.
There is no designated parking area for the reservoir so many people choose to park on Allwoodley lane, if you choose to park here please be respectful of the residents of the area and other road users. Parking is free.
Address: Alwoodley Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS17 7DJ
5. Agden Reservoir
Agden Reservoir is located 6.5 miles west of Sheffield and is on the border of the Peak District. The walk around the reservoir is 2.5 miles which take you on designated paths, Yorkshire Water permitted paths and calm roads.
The trail is a natural trail which means they can get a little muddy in wet weather. There are also in parts bare tree roots that can be slippery and cause trip hazards.
Agden Reservoir is a perfect place to head for a walk and to blow away the cobwebs. Perfect for visiting on a weekend after a busy week to really get away and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. The area is very peaceful, quiet and relaxing and is the perfect place to head no matter the weather.
The walk may be better to handle during the summer months but I honestly think this reservoir has something to offer no matter the time of the year. The idyllic setting is perfect for catching a sunset or even doing a little wildlife spotting.
The reservoir and surrounding areas are dog friendly, you may see signs where dogs are required to be on leads but otherwise they are free to roam. The terrain and surrounding woodland and fields are perfect for letting your four-legged friend.
Parking is available at Low Bradfield and The Sands, S6 6LA.
6. Cod Beck Reservoir
Cod Beck Reservoir is located in the pretty town of Osmotherley, North Yorkshire and is within the boundaries of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. It was completed in 1953 and has since been a popular place for hikers and walkers to enjoy the stunning scenery.
The walk itself is circular and takes you around the edge of the reservoir, there are other walks that are longer, tougher and take you around the area but are much longer and harder. This walk is a gentle walk that is roughly 1.5 miles around the reservoir.
The path is clear, wide and well surfaced making it suitable for a family day out or just those looking to have a more steady pace to the day. There is one area in the northeast corner which included a small incline and decline other than that the path is fairly flat and straightforward
The area itself is surrounded by beautiful trees and woodland which are beautiful to see any time of the year, though my favourite is autumn as the colours change and create a dramatic burst of colour over the water.
The reservoir itself is said to be home to some great fish species such as brown trout, bullhead, eel and minnow along with many more.
It is also a great spot if you like cycling and enjoying a ride around the area, there is a special cycle path which you can take if you wish to explore by bike. There is also a picnic area located on the southern end of the water within the woodland area.
Parking is available on the north side of the reservoir and within Osmotherley village, which provided public toilets and a small shop.
If you are looking to extend your visit to the picturesque part of North Yorkshire you can head to Mount Grace Priory where you can explore the monastery, Carthusian chapel and house. It is very close to the reservoir so it is a perfect addition to your day.
The reservoir is dog friendly, it is advised to have your dog on the lead especially during spring/summer as there can be often sheep and cattle nearby.
The walk is not suitable for wheelchairs but there are 2 disabled spaces within the car park. During the summer months, there are also days that the ice cream man is parked in the main car park.
Address: Cod Beck Reservoir, Northallerton DL6 3AL
7. Swinsty Reservoir
Swinsty Reservoir is another of the stunning reservoir located within the Washburn Valley. It is also owned by Yorkshire Water along with Fewston Reservoir, Thruscross and Lindley reservoir. Here you can carry on seeing the same stunning views over the valley and surrounding areas.
During the walk around Swinsty Reservoir, you will get to see some of the amazing views over the water along with breathtaking views from the embankment near the River Washburn. There are also some more lovely little spots to rest along the way to sit and enjoy peace and tranquillity.
The walk itself is roughly 3 miles long with clear and consistently wide footpaths which are well surfaced. It’s calm, flat and smooth and therefore great for those looking to enjoy a slower pace or just take in the scenery.
It is said that autumn is a favourite time of year to come among returning guests to the reservoir with the beautiful trees turning stunning shades of orange, red and brown. There is also said to be sightings of geese enjoying the reservoir before migrating north.
No matter the time of year you plan to visit the reservoir it is simply stunning and a showcase of what Yorkshire has to offer. With Fewston Reservoir being the neighbouring reservoir you could have a full day of exploring and join the 2 into one long walk to really take in the sights. You might even get to see some wildlife along the way.
Parking is available at the reservoir itself called Swinsty Moor car park. There are some small conveniences here including picnic facilities, toilets, disabled parking and toilets and even an ice cream van.
Dog walkers and dogs are welcome but please respect other visitors and clean up any mess after your dog. Please refrain from letting your dog swim in the water.
Address: The Swinsty Reservoir walk starts at Swinsty & Fewston Reservoir Car Park, North Yorkshire, LS21 2NP.
8. Fewston Reservoir, Washburn Valley
Fewston Reservoir is another of the delightful reservoirs and places to walk in the Washburn Valley area. Located 10 miles from Harrogate and north of Otley, this reservoir can be found just off the A59. The areas of Harrogate and Otley are very picturesque and beautiful so it is easy to see why these sets of reservoirs made it onto the list.
The walk around the reservoir is gentle and steady and is a circular walk around the stunning reservoir. As you cross the embankment you are spoilt as you are offered up amazing views over Fewston Reservoir and Swinsty Reservoir located down the valley.
This location is perfect for anyone looking to spend the day walking as you can extend your walk to one of the other 3 reservoirs nearby to really explore the stunning surroundings. The route is mostly wide paths and surfaces though there are some short parts of the path with steep gradients and large stones. Luckily there are no steps, stiles or gates along this route.
The walk is roughly 6 miles long and therefore one of the longer walks on this list but it doesn’t mean you should go to explore this beautiful area and experience the beauty for yourself. Some added facilities available is a picnic area, public toilets and disabled parking along with a disabled toilet.
Parking is available on-site at the Fewston Reservoir car park but be aware that there is a barrier height of 2.2m high. There is alternative parking at Blubberhouses car park where the height barrier is 2.1m high and is located at LS21 2NY.
The reservoir is dog friendly but please remember to have a lead for your dog along with waste bags and to pick up any mess to place in a bin.
Address: Fewston Reservoir, Otley HG3 1US
9. Thruscross Reservoir
Thruscross reservoir is located west of Harrogate and north of Otley. The reservoir is the northernmost reservoir in the Washburn valley out of four. The other 3 reservoirs are Lindley Wood, Fewston Reservoir and Swinsty Reservoir. So if you are looking to get out and do plenty of exploring without having to travel far in between this is a perfect area for you.
Thrushcross reservoir is the highest reservoir set in the incredible Washburn Valley, it feeds down to the other 3 reservoirs along the way. The altitude brings charming views over the valley and moorland. The walk itself is 4.5 miles long and follows the edge of the reservoir.
Some things that are truly wonderful about this location is the surrounding area you can explore and see. From beautiful pastures to enchanting woodlands and picturesque views over the valley.
Parking is free and is located on reservoir road in Thruscross, there is a barrier height for vehicles and is 2.1 m.
Address: Reservoir Road, Thruscross, Harrogate HG3 4BB
10. Tingley Reservoir
Tingley Reservoir is located in Ardsley, West Yorkshire and is very much a popular area for both visitors and locals to come for a gentle stroll. With a short walk of 1.5 miles long it is an easy and steady stroll for anyone looking to go at a slower pace.
The walk itself is flat with surfaced paths along the way around and has lovely views over the water. This particular one is very close to home for us so it was one we often go and walk around to enjoy spending a sunny afternoon.
There is no perfect time to visit the small but beautiful reservoir as it has many sides to show. It is definitely a popular spot for dog walkers, runners and strollers on warm summers days but is just as pretty in the midst of winter. The autumn is a beautiful time to visit as the colours of the trees turn and the weather isn’t too cold.
During winter it is a popular place for locals to go sledging down the hills towards the fields away from the reservoir. It is a stunning place to go experience the snow and the views of the snowy hilltops in the distance. It is also a wonderful place to do a spot of bird watching and sunset photography as the water glistens in the evening sun.
Parking is free in the small car park which holds around 10 cars, there are often people parking on the roadside but it isn’t advised. Dogs are also welcome to the reservoir and often enjoy a dip on a warm day, please make sure you have a lead and bags to hand.
Address: Haigh Moor Rd, Tingley, Wakefield WF3 1EE
11. Grimwith Reservoir
Grimwith Reservoir is situated in Noth Yorkshire in the Yorkshire Dales. Originally built by the Bradford Corporation as 1 of 11 reservoirs to supply fresh water to Bradford it is not the largest owned reservoir of Yorkshire Water.
The views are something and more when it comes to Grimwith Reservoir. The views overlook the stunning North Yorkshire moors, valleys and the lower parts of the Yorkshire Dales. The walk itself is roughly 4.5 miles long and is on a well surfaced path and just a handful of unsurfaced areas.
During the winter months or rainy days, these areas can get a little muddy so be prepared with boots or wellies. The main attractions to this stunning reservoir are the chances to see some lovely wildlife, untouched rolling hills and even sailing boats floating across the waters.
Grimwith Reservoir is a perfect place to come if you are a wildlife fanatic, keen photographer or just like getting out and exploring new places to walk. There are a couple of small inclines that take note of and places that will descend so be aware if you struggle a lot with these.
There is a car park located either on-site at the Yorkshire Water car park next to the reservoir or you can park on the layby off the road from Hebden to Pateley Bridge. Parking is free and there is also access to toilets for visitors. There are disabled toilets and disabled parking available.
Due to the reservoir being owned by Yorkshire Water they ask visitors to keep dogs on leads and clear up any mess. Otherwise, dogs are very welcome to the reservoir.
Address: Skipton, BD23 5ED