A peaceful, atmospheric circuit of Grimwith Reservoir with only the birds and the lapping of the waves on the shoreline to keep you company. We recently did a night skies guided walk here which drew large numbers and was accessible for all.

Grimwith (pronounced Grim’ath) Reservoir was originally built in 1856 by Bradford Corporation (to feed the mills of Bradford) but was substantially increased over 100 years later when Yorkshire Water raised the level of the water by a further 20 metres. It is now the largest single expanse of inland water in Yorkshire. More importantly it is the home to a wide variety of bird life including lapwing, curlew and redshank. However it is the waders that make the walk more interesting; greylag and Canada geese mixing it with widgeons and teals.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Grimwith Reservoir dam

There is a (free) car park just above the sailing centre along a side road east of Grassington. It was surprisingly empty considering nearby Grassington was very busy and not so far away Malham was rammed with visitors. If ever the 95/5 per cent rule applies, it applies to walking in the Yorkshire Dales. Whilst this is marvellous for those of us who love our peace and tranquillity you can’t but help feeling visitors are very much missing out!

The route itself is very straightforward, impossible to go wrong once you have decided which way to walk. I headed west on a clockwise circuit. The walk starts by crossing the wide dam on a lovely grassy path lined with sheep.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Grimwith Reservoir walking map

A turbine to your left marks a renewable energy project as all of us try and source a solution for our looming energy crisis. Following the dam the path joins a bridlepath heading to the western extremes of the reservoir, on the fringes of the bleak but fascinating Hebden Moor.

From the inlet of Blea Beck the path does divide; the lower, better track passing through one of two areas of Special Scientific Significance. The path keeps close to the shoreline, passing through heather and bracken before emerging at a ruin, according to the sign, the last remains of the hamlet of Gate Up which disappeared under the waters 100 plus years ago.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Grimwith Reservoir Sailing centre

The name Grimwith comes from a similar drowned hamlet of the past and all that remains is Grimwith House on the eastern flanks of the reservoir. Pass the house and soon arrive at a cruck barn called High Laithe. It is not possible to get inside this interesting barn; the name cruck referring to the curved wood which was used to make the roof support.

The walk finishes with a gradual up hill path to the car park and the end of the circuit.

Walk facts:

Distance: Roughly 4.5 miles.

Height to climb: 50m (160 feet).

Start: SE 063640. Yorkshire Water provide a large free parking car park with toilets.

Difficulty: Easy along well signposted, accessible paths.

Refreshments: The Clarendon Hotel is one mile away on the B6265 before arriving at Grassington.

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 OL2) 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 Smith is the owner of Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales. He has written three books on walking in the Dales, The Yorkshire 3 Peaks, The Dales 30 mountains and Walks without Stiles. All these books (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website. Book a navigation (map and compass skills) training day near Settle or a bespoke day for a private group. A new date has been added on Sunday, May 19. Join our “Dales 30 Weekenders” in Hawes and Sedbergh. Where2walk.co.uk also features hundreds of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.