By Vicky · Published Jan. 3rd, 2024
This short walk around Swinsty Reservoir is an easy stroll for the entire family, with great views over the lake.
Swinsty Reservoir Car Park
The walk around Swinsty Reservoir starts from one of two car parks, both free. If you’re coming from Ilkley or Otley, Swinsty & Fewston Reservoir Car Park on the west side of the reservoir is closest (15-20 minutes). If you’re coming from Skipton, Swinsty Reservoir Car Park is closest (15-20 minutes). Both car parks for Swinsty Reservoir are free, but only the Swinsty & Fewston car park has public toilets.
Swinsty Reservoir Walking Map
- The walking path around Swinsty Reservoir is very easy, and suitable for prams. It can be slightly muddy when it’s been raining a lot.
- The map to take for this hike is the Ordnance Survey Map 2 of the Southern & Western Yorkshire Dales*.
- For other walks nearby, try the short walks up Beamsley Beacon, Almscliffe Crag, Sharp Haw and Flasby Fell, Skipton Moor, or Embsay Crag.
- You can find other Yorkshire ideas in our Yorkshire Guide.
Swinsty Reservoir Walking Route
From Swinsty & Fewston Reservoir Car Park, walk along the track to the right of the public toilets, into the woodlands. Take the smaller path on the left in roughly 400 metres. This heads downwards to the edge of the reservoir.
On the main track at the bottom, turn right. From here there are nice views over Swinsty Reservoir. You’ll soon see glimpses of Swinsty Hall, a fancy old mansion, hidden in the trees to your left. This is the home of Gareth Southgate, the England football manager!
Continue along the track and you’ll soon come to the far end of the reservoir. Turn left along the big dam, which has recently (roughly 2020-2022) been stabilised and strengthened. To the left you can see water pouring down into the outflow of the reservoir, while to the right you can see the water streaming down a wide stone channel.
Walking across the Dam
Walk across the dam to old Swinsty Cottage on the other side. Turn left here along the little lane. In a few hundred metres, take the path on the left to keep walking along the edge of the reservoir. You’ll soon come to another, smaller dam across the reservoir.
Cross over, and turn left directly on the far side, just before the other car park. There are several nice picnic benches here and often many ducks. The path continues around the edge of the water, then eventually bends away and upwards onto yet another dam.
This dam separates Swinsty from Fewston Reservoir, which you can see on your right whilst walking across the dam. On the other side, the quiet road heads uphill. Walk up here and cross over the road. Soon you’ll be back at the car park and the end of the Swinsty Reservoir Walk.
Guidebooks to explore more of Yorkshire
The Rough Guide to Yorkshire* is a great little guidebook and has a section on Ilkley and things to do nearby. The Yorkshire Dales Pathfinder Guide* has a good collection of short hikes suitable for the entire family and the Guide to North Yorkshire Pub Walks* has some fun walks in the Dales for those who are hungry and thirsty.