I’d been to Grimwith Reservoir before and I remembered it being supremely walkable. And by that I mean it’s only a four and a half mile long circular; you might want a bottle of water and some trainers, but no other equipment is needed. There is no way to get lost – you just follow the reservoir round and round; and to top it all off – there is a free car park and a toilet block. If you like the wilds, this probably isn’t for you. Regardless its a beautiful country walk, flooded by geese who in the distance look like brontosauruses.
Moorland surrounds us – buoyant with heather, which springs with purple flowers like the tops of sprouting broccoli. This heather is burnt in the Autumn to promote spring growth for the grouse, but right now, it bounded across the hills.
The place had changed slightly in the last few years – when I was here before, the path was skinny and rocky. Rivers were only passable through the use of single file bridges – basically a plank of wood with sides. Now, they were so wide you could ride a quad bike over them. We started our walk towards the dam and finished by the old Grimwith House (undergoing some extensive renovations now, but last inhabited in 1970) – bright yellow flowers, neon, almost like the shine of the battenburgs on an ambulance, greeted us with swaying stems.
The deep blue waters masked the real colour of the waves. The deepest waters were a tremendous beef stock brown; when the waters were clear enough to see the rocks at the bottom, they coloured the milky stones with a red devil-like hue. The puddles we splashed through betrayed the broth like nature of the water. Faint yellow water came out the taps at our campsite and resembed urine. It was slightly off-putting.
The reservoir was Victorian, built between 1856 and 1863, by the Bradford Corporation Waterworks to support factories and their worker population in the area. The small village of ‘Gate-Up’ was flooded, leaving unscathed a laithe, Grimwith House, and a couple of cottages above the water in the present day. A ‘laithe’ is the Viking name for a barn. This particular example was deemed important because they simply can’t build them like this anymore. There are no trees in the area large enough to create the ‘crucks’ (the long eaves). The heather thatching is also decidedly endemic.
I liked Grimwith – despite its unsatisfactory name. It is the biggest patch of blue on the OS map of the Yorkshire Dales. Cars may be necessary – but you could feasibly walk there from Grassington as well. Check out the photos and enjoy.