Grimwith Reservoir Walk (Circular Route)

Are you looking for a walk in the Yorkshire Dales that doesn’t involve walking up a massive hill and still has great views? Then this Grimwith Reservoir walk is perfect for you!

The reservoir is the largest one owned by Yorkshire Water, who supply water to the four Yorkshire counties and various metropolitan areas.

And given that the walk takes about just over 4 miles, it’s ideal for individuals, couples, families, dog walkers and runners. The walking route detailed below is pretty much entirely flat and forms a circular loop around the scenic Grimwith Reservoir in the south-eastern Dales.

Here, I’ve assembled all the information and resources you need for a stress-free and relaxing walk in the Yorkshire countryside. Below, you’ll find information on getting to the reservoir, where to park for free, completing the route (including a Grimwith Reservoir map of the path) and all the usual frequently asked questions!

Grimwith Reservoir wall, the walk takes you across this at the end. Rolling Yorkshire Dales hills in the background

Walk Overview

Distance: 4.3 miles/7 kilometres
Elevation gain: 83 metres
Difficulty: Easy
Walking time: 1.5 to 2 hours

Start and endpoint: Grimwith Reservoir Car Park

Where is Grimwith Reservoir?

Grimwith Reservoir is located on the south-eastern edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The reservoir is nestled in the North Yorkshire hills approximately 950 feet above sea level. As such, both the walk and road routes leading to the reservoir are very scenic. Particularly, if you get to drive through the quintessential, local Yorkshire towns like Pateley Bridge, Grassington or Otley on the way.

The location of the reservoir makes it easily accessible from much of northern England. Leeds, Bradford and Burnley are all 30 miles (1 hour) away, while Harrogate and Ripon are both 20 miles (30 minutes) away.

The holiday cottages on the eastern side of Grimwith Reservoir

Getting to the reservoir

Grimwith Reservoir Postcode

The starting point of the walk is Grimwith Reservoir Public Car Park, postcode: BD23 5ED.

Grimwith Reservoir Car Park

Grimwith Reservoir Car Park is on the southern side of the reservoir, above the Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club.

While it’s a good size car park that fits plenty of cars, it does still get pretty full on a sunny weekend. However, as the car park is free to use, there really can’t be any complaints!

Walk Route Map

Click the link above to download the file for use in a GPS viewer. This way you’ll be able to track where you are on the route using your phone’s GPS – avoiding accidental detours and providing reassurance for less experienced countryside walkers! Once you’ve downloaded the GPX file above, install a GPX viewer app (Google PlayStore or iPhone App Store) and load the GPX file.

Can You Walk Around Grimwith Reservoir?

Yes! And the walking route is very easy to follow. The path runs closely along the shores of the reservoir meaning it’s hard to get lost.

However, there are a couple of places where the path branches off. But in these cases, they just run parallel to each other and re-join again shortly after.

I recommend walking in an anti-clockwise direction around the circular route to save walking across the reservoir wall for last!

Grimwith Reservoir Circular Walk Route

  • To start this Grimwith Reservoir walk, head east and uphill out of the car park. This is the path you’ll follow for most of the circular route around Grimwith Reservoir.
  • After about 200 metres, the path splits in two. The fork to the left goes down towards the water edge and the right fork continues straight. Given that the two paths meet again after about 500 metres, it does not really matter which option you pick. But… for the best views of the reservoir and surrounding hills, take the right-hand fork (keep straight). What’s more, at the highest point of the path, you’ll be able to look over the reservoir from height, offering a much better view.
Head east out of the car park, up hill and continue on the path for most of the walk
The first split in the path. Bearing left will take you down to the water's edge, keeping straight will take you a great viewpoint
View of Grimwith Reservoir from the start of the walk, as well as stunning views of the surrounding hills
  • Follow the path as it drops back down to water level and around the back of a preserved medieval barn, you. On the left-hand side, you’ll also pass the Grimwith Reservoir holiday cottages. The cottages, Skyfell and Snave Barn, have splendid views of the surrounding hills and reservoir.
  • Continue following the path at the water level as you walk towards the northern part of the reservoir. The path splits again here, with a narrower path (on the left) continuing alongside the water and another path (on the right) heading uphill behind the fence. As both paths join back shortly after, I took the one that required no uphill walking! But, I’ll leave you to make your own decision…
The restored medieval barn on the eastern shore of Grimwith Reservoir. The walking route takes you behind here and the holiday cottages
On the northern side of the reservoir, the path splits (although later rejoins)
  • You’ll cross two bridges as you loop around the north of the reservoir and dedicated nature reserve areas. The first bridge crosses Gate Up Gill and the second Blea Gill. From here, continue along the western edge back towards the sailing club, which will come into view soon. The path along the western side of the reservoir is at least 20 to 30 metres away from the shoreline for the most part. So, while you don’t get such scenic views, you do make good progress along the straight path.
  • After about half a mile from the second bridge, the path starts to head inland and uphill slightly. Keep to the path until you see a fence (with a path behind) on the left-hand side, signposted as ‘Car park 1 mile.’ Follow this path until you reach the grassy home straight on the southwest side of the reservoir.
  • Finally, once you have passed the watch station, it is just a short uphill section back to the car park to complete this Grimwith Reservoir circular walk.
One of two bridges on the very northern tip of the reservoir
Turn left at this sign to walk back to the car park via Grimwith Reservoir's wall/dam
The grassy path along Grimwith Reservoir wall - the home straight of this walk!
The walk from the Reservoir wall back to the car park


Is Grimwith Reservoir Open?

Yes, the reservoir is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can visit anytime – although you won’t see much at night.

Is Grimwith Reservoir Car Park Open?

Yes, the car park is open 24/7 and it’s free to park, with plenty spaces available.

However, on sunnier days and weekends it can get full quickly. Because of this, I recommend arriving early in the day in the summer months.

Are There Toilets at Grimwith Reservoir?

There’s a free-to-use toilet block located next to Grimwith Reservoir Car Park.

While I haven’t used it myself, it actually gets a lot of good reviews for how clean and well-kept it is!

How Long Does it Take to Walk Around Grimwith Reservoir?

This Grimwith Reservoir walk can easily be completed in around 2 hours at a casual pace. Though, non-stop at a steady pace, you could walk around Grimwith Reservoir in an hour.

Can you cycle around Grimwith Reservoir?

Yes, the paths are totally suitable for cycling. However, keep an eye out for children, dogs and the variety of wildlife that live around the water (ducks, geese, pheasants, etc)!

Sailing boats on grimwith reservoir with the watch tower in the foreground

Can you swim in Grimwith Reservoir?

No. Rather like many reservoirs in the UK, you can’t swim in Grimwith Reservoir.

There are several reasons for this. Including sudden drops in water depth, located in an isolated area from emergency help, hidden currents, and very cold water temperatures.

Additionally, Grimwith Reservoir also has a lot of dedicated nature reserve areas, so it’s also important to protect these.

Can you walk dogs at Grimwith Reservoir?

Yes, this reservoir is great for dog walks! The route is suitable for most dogs as it isn’t too strenuous or long.

Although, dogs must be kept on their leads when passing through the clearly marked protected nature reserve areas around Grimwith Reservoir. Dogs also aren’t permitted to swim in the reservoir.

How big is Grimwith Reservoir?

The surface area of Grimwith Reservoir is about 1.5 square km. And, while this might not sound like much, it actually contains an astonishing 4,789,000,000 gallons of water!

So, you’re now all ready for a lovely Grimwith Reservoir walk in Yorkshire, England!

If you have any questions or want any more information drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you!

Prices and offerings mentioned are correct as of April 2023 but are subject to change in future.

More Walks You Might Be Interested In…

WEST YORKSHIRE: Ilkley Moor Walks: 4 Beautiful Circular Routes

YORKSHIRE DALES: Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales (Ultimate Visitor’s Guide + Info)

NORTH YORKS: Little Known Malham Walk to Malham Cove, Janet’s Foss & Gordale Scar

WEST YORKSHIRE: Withens Clough Reservoir (Walks, Parking + More Info)

SCOTLAND: Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoint (Trains, Photos & Walk Guide)

YORKSHIRE DALES: Buckden Pike Walk (Circular 5.5-Mile Route)

LAKE DISTRICT: Old Man of Coniston Walk: Circular 4-Peak Route

YORKSHIRE DALES: A Yorkshire Dales Waterfalls Walk (to 5 Keld Waterfalls)


Grimwith Reservoir Walk Circular Route pinterest pin

4 thoughts on “Grimwith Reservoir Walk (Circular Route)”

  1. Gillian Anderson

    I walked this lovely familiar and favourite walk today ( Wednesday 18 May, 2022) with my husbsnd.
    The weather was perfect in every way – gloriously sunny,.cloudless blue sky, a gentle breeze and about 20°C.
    The only sounds today were the sherp and their lambs and the calls of the curlews, oystercatchers, lapwings and many other water birds/geese, ducks and their many young offspring currently resident on the reservoir.
    No noisy music or people, barking dogs or, unwanted noise from vehicles being dangerously driven. Just the peace and tranquility of such a lovely area.
    Anyone, wishing to do this walk.either now or in the immediate future should be for-warned on the Yorshire Water’s website that the toilet facilities at the Grimwith carpark are currently closed.
    There are big signs at the entrance to the Grimwith Reservoir road notifying visitors of the closed toilets but, maybe additional notification of this could be on the website.
    Not everyone is agile enough or brave enough to squat in a relatively private place when nature calls!
    Why are the toilets currently closed?
    Otherwise this lovely walk is a total.delight at any time of the year – and I should know having enjoyed it many times and in many weather conditions.

    1. I’m really glad you got to enjoy a perfect British summer’s day here! I did some searching and seems like the toilets are closed for refurbishment, although no information is given on how long this will go on for or when the toilet block will reopen. I’ve updated this article anyway, so thank you for letting me know. I hope they open soon as it can be so off putting to some when there’s no facilities nearby, especially in such a remote location.

  2. I worked at grimwith reservoir I built all the dry stone walls and all the comforts and a sheep pens we also moved stone by stone the thatched cottage Barn and rebuilt it where it is now it was in the valley I was 18 then in 19 77 there was a gang others working they’re building the walls back then no such thing as health and safety it looks marvellous now it’s all finished and weathered and aged

    1. Wow, what an incredible thing to be a part of. The buildings around certainly do look good and add to the Yorkshire magic you feel 🙂

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