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The Washburn Valley - A Land of Water & Activity

The Washburn Valley forms the southern third of the Nidderdale AONB, to the south of Nidderdale.

It is most well-known for its four reservoirs which span the length of the valley from remote Moorland on the high hills of Thruscross Reservoir (the newest of the four), to the rich and gentle rolling hills that surround Lindley Wood Reservoir.

In between lie Fewston Reservoir and its neighbouring Swinsty Reservoir beside the hamlets of Fewston and Timble.

This landscape, shaped for and by the supply of water, has become a popular destination for walkers, wildlife watchers and cyclists both on and off road.

Each reservoir offers a circular walk around its perimeter and there are several car parks provided by Yorkshire Water at all but Lindley Wood.

The line of reservoirs offers a sliding scale of severity and surroundings for your walk, meaning that regardless of season or appetite, there is a walk for everyone.

Mountain bikers will find purpose built facilities near the Swinsty car park and above Lindley Wood at Stainburn Forest, the two connected by bridleways and quiet back roads.

In addition the valley is the site of the only dam release canoeing facility in England.

It’s no surprise that this part of the AONB has become synonymous with outdoor activities.

The Washburn Valley Heritage Centre holds regular exhibitions showing the once vibrant local area and its formative history, as well as offering tea and cake from their café, making for a refreshing stop when walking around Swinsty Reservoir.

The making of the reservoirs was a ravaging process and many homes were sacrificed to the waters in the name of progress. 

The village of West End lies beneath the water of Thruscross Reservoir, its church and other buildings being revealed by low waters during exceptionally dry periods.

Even when full a number of buildings can be seen along the banks, sometimes half submerged and slightly ghostly as they hang above the waters.    

With no major towns or villages the Washburn Valley offers a peaceful respite and is a treat to explore.

The valley is popular for the traditional Sunday walk and pub lunch, offering everything from a light sandwich to a full gastro-pub experience, depending on your will power.

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