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My Dad David died 10.09.13 aged 69. He had a huge love of the countryside. He loved walking and was a keen angler. I was desperate to find and own an object that summed Dad up, after an insightful conversation with a friend, I remembered his walking boots. This set me thinking... How about stepping into them and going for a walk somewhere with a body of water (sea, river, lake, canal, pond, tarn...) and stunning, just as Dad would have wanted.... Here I go in 'My Dad's Boots'

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Yorkshire Dales - Fewston and Swinsty Reservoirs

The Washburn valley, just north of Otley is home to four scenic reservoirs. These stretches of water offer some fantastic fishing and walking opportunities. Back in July I visited one of them - Thruscross; the most northerly of the four. This month I visited the middle two - Fewston and Swinsty. The walk around both waters was a combined 6.5 miles. Perfect for winter daylight hours with a brew stop or two thrown in!

Map: Bing and Ordnance Survey

The day was an unexpectedly snowy and cold one. An isolated snow shower came in overnight and I awoke to a blanket of the white stuff. I had planned to drive much further north to enjoy a snow day but it looked as if I didn't need to travel far and could save time and stay local. I arrived on the spacious carpark that sits between the two reservoirs and performed my usual brewing up, booting up and map (OS Explorer 297) checking process. I traveled light on this trip as I knew I'd be on well marked, easy paths and in plenty of company, so I opted to only take my brewing up kit and a spare pair of gloves. 

I started out of the carpark and across the road to begin my walk around Fewston, the largest of today's two (3.5 miles). The walk starts off in a woodland and I soon reached views over the reservoir. 

Washburn Valley Anglers have a good selection of brown trout to try for in both reservoirs, and plenty of lovely spots to operate from. 

'"Fewston we have a problem" the only perilous part of the day, a particularly slippery downward section of path. The overhanging tree was mine, and a few others saviour. 

I found the views across the water and the reflective patterns created from the trees and vegetation quite beautiful. 

The neighbouring Nidderdale landscape opened up beside me, covered in its lovely snowy blanket. 

A sweet little feathered friend flew alongside me for a short stretch, settling every so often on the wall top. A lovely Christmas Card image I thought.

I carried on and reached the halfway point at Blubberhouses, I could see St Andrew's Church steeple in the distance. A small and relatively new church constructed in the 1850's beside the now busy A59, it is also home of the second carpark by the reservoir.

A short walk by the A59 then back towards the water.

Time to rest MDB.

The route is quick and very straightforward, but is full of rewarding views and lovely scenes.

The walk around Fewston reservoir is completed once I reached the opposite side of the embankment that I'd started from. If I wanted to call it a day at this point I could have simply walked across the embankment and back to the carpark, but my plan was to bag two reservoirs today. Once I had reached, and crossed the road I set off on my 3 mile lap of Swinsty. 

Through the woods and on to the water's edge, as I neared the reservoir bank path there was a very noticeable loud sound coming from the water cascade on the opposite side of the reservoir. 

As I walked on a tempting opportunity presented itself. As I had my own supplies I carried on but I'll definitely have to bear that place in mind on a future visit.

The wide open views across Swinsty in its bleak wintery loveliness.

A perfect picnic spot popped up by the third reservoir carpark.... Where's my flask?! 

The Swinsty duck display team were not at all 'fowl', they were actually quite entertaining to watch.

The walk took me along another embankment between the reservoir to my right, and the much smaller frozen Swinsty Lagoon to my left. 

MDB got another stop off opportunity.

The path took me beside Swinsty Cottage, a rather more substantial stone building than the cottage I'd expected to see based on my earlier map check. 

The view from Swinsty Embankment down the Washburn Valley and over to Folly Hall Wood.

The walk took me on through the woods and beside Swinsty Hall, an impressive stone structure, the track trough Swinsty Moor Plantation took me back to the carpark and the culmination of my walk.

An easy and enjoyable 6.5 miles. If reservoir bagging was a thing I would have been happy with these two. The Washburn Valley is a super area with one final reservoir, Lindley Wood, waiting for me to explore.

Before signing off..... I have to share this brilliant MDB inspired illustration, drawn my incredibly talented lifelong friend Mark Kirkham aka EdinburghSketcher. Mark has perfectly captured MDB in the kind of upland landscape I love to find myself. Thank you so very much Mark, I am truly touched by your wonderful artwork. I know Dad would have loved it and that you had drawn it. To see more of Mark's incredible work, please click here..... https://www.facebook.com/edinburghsketcher/ or http://edinburghsketcher.com/ 

Till next time.... Tight laces. MDBx 

Phil.... Always, a huge heartfelt thank you. 

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