The Washburn Valley, north of Otley in Yorkshire, is home to a series of reservoirs. Lindley Wood Reservoir is the lowest and closest to Otley itself.
Further down the valley there is Fewston & Swinsty Reservoirs and further up is another good walk around Thruscross Reservoir. They’re all beautiful, but you’ll find that here at Lindley Wood it’s less crowded, yet just as nice to walk around.
Having lived in the area for a year or so, this circular became a great local walk for me. The dogs loved it. Their variety was spectacular and each season brought something new to the valley.
This reservoir is not off-road with footpaths all around its immediate perimeter, but this particular 6-mile hike keeps you off the main road and lets you see the entire area from above, below, and also beside the water.
This walk has many places you could use as a starting point, but by far the easiest I find is just off Newell Carr Road/Weston Roor Road. The road leading up from Otley and leading to Blubberhouses.
Going up from Otley, you go well past the turning for Clifton. The road makes a sharp turn to the right and then a sharp turn to the left. Late in that bend to the left you will see a parking space for about 4 or 5 cars on the right. This is the small free parking lot. Grid reference: SE 195 492
This is a walk I have no preference for, clockwise or anti-clockwise. You will get a wonderful hike and experience either way. Remember you are parked at the highest point of the walk so there will always be an uphill even if the start is easy.
From the car park, take the road that leads off the main road and goes down and down. Dob Park Road.
Dob Park Bridge
After about a mile you will reach the end of the road and you will come to one of my favorite secret locations. The Ford and Dob Park Bridge.
This is an old packhorse bridge from the 17th century and really still looks great. The dogs love paddling in the shallows here and there are benches to sit on and enjoy the view.
On the way to Lindley Wood
After crossing the bridge turn right and instead of following the track up and to the left, continue straight on the path through the gate.
Here you go along the Washburn River through meadows and wooded areas. It is wonderfully quiet here and in the summer months it is full of color.
Next to the reservoir
Eventually you come to the B6451 and the upper, north end of Lindley Wood Reservoir. Turn left and carefully cross the road bridge.
Turn right immediately after the bridge and follow the woodland path next to Lindley Wood Reservoir itself.
You can now enjoy the waterfront and the forest along the eastern part. A big tip from me is to do this walk in the spring. It is full of bluebells, a sea of colors.
The dogs really enjoy this piece. In the trees, in the water and plenty to discover without lead.
It is also never overly busy, so you can enjoy a few nice kilometers almost to yourself.
Turn up and away from the reservoir
At the end of the reservoir you come out on a small avenue. Turn right, over the bridge and right again, follow the road uphill. After about half a mile you will see a gate and stile on your right as the road turns left. Take the path to the right and through the fields.
At the end of these fields you come to a main road. Go straight ahead and over the stile on the other side. From here you are in large, wide open fields with great views of the reservoir below.
The path winds left around the large field and then over a large stile. Pete struggled with this and somehow got over it. Malc was fine, of course he just jumped on it.
After the high stile, look for a small tree area on your right, you will want to turn right literally just before the trees. Be careful, this stretch gets muddy and boggy.
Keep looking back as you get some breathtaking views. Almscliffe Crag also appears on the horizon.
You will then come to a path, turn left and follow it all the way around and up past a farm. You will then come to a gate to a path straight ahead. This will take you up through sheep pastures in height which will take you all the way back to the car park.
This section is great in the morning as you get some beautiful sunsets over the bottom of the valley towards Leeds and Otley.
Route details and GPX
Distance: 6 miles
Difficulty Level: Medium
Download the Lindley Wood Circular Walk GPX
Other walks you might like:
- Swinty to John O Gaunts Reservoir and Castle Walk
- A walk around Langsett Reservoir
- Walks on Ilkley Moor, Baht ‘At