Where is this walk?

Semer Water walk

September 3, 2019

The Semer Water walk is unusual. Not only are lakes very rare in the Dales but this one is both a nature reserve and an outdoor centre. The return is much improved by climbing to the ridge above the west banks.

The Walk

I was very impressed by Semer Water and how the second largest natural Lake in the Yorkshire Dales is being managed. The balance between conservation, handled well by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, and recreation is spot on. I was delighted to see a group of school children canoeing the lake and enjoying the surrounding. There is also a well laid out path passing through the Nature Reserve alongside the Lake. Well done to the conservation authority in charge. Semer Water is hidden up Raydale, a side valley of Wensleydale. It is another of the reasons for its peaceful ambience.

On my first visit I only managed the traditional low level circuit which returns via the road. However there is a lovely detour over the higher ridge to the west. Although this only adds an extra mile in length and a bit of height this is more than compensated by the excellent views. Raydale and Semer Water ooze peace and tranquility.  It backs up my view that the best of the Dales is found in these side valleys, away from the honeypots.


Tempting as it is to say a pint of Semer Water (it really exists, a pale bitter), this is a walking site. I do believe the whole valley deserves more time to explore than a quick walk round the lake. A much longer walk takes you up Yockenthwaite Moor.

Navigation Tips on the Semer Water walk

To find Stalling Busk on the Semer Water walk look carefully when passing the Old Chapel ruins. Head up hill via a faint path next to a small stream. One of those places where it is easy to go wrong.

When planning a walk I always look for the places where things may go wrong and concentrate a little more.

  • David says:

    I take it the 265ft of climb you refer to is for the low level walk?

    There is over 800ft feet of climb out of Marsett to the shake holes at Carlows!

  • David Percival says:

    I did this walk with my two dogs, Golden Retriever and Red Fox Labrador, and found the hole in the wall stiles challenging because I had to lift them over most of them because they were too narrow, or dogs too wide! Nevertheless, we enjoyed the walk. Thanks for the inspiration, I will be doing more of your walks.

  • Keith says:

    You can get drinks, hot and cold, and cakes at Ryedale Preserves just off the path at Stalling Busk. They have a tasting room, kitchen and tables inside and out. It’s about 200/300m detour but not signed.

  • Graeme Stark says:

    I did this circuit of Semer Water last week, it was very windy so we opted for the “low” route. A year or so ago we climbed the fell to the North of Semer Water, the views were staggering, but it is quite a steep ascent. There is a footpath now that takes you off the lane, across fields to the bridge at the Eastern end of the lake, about a mile from the end of the walk.

    I’ve only just discovered this website, it is really helpful – thank you.

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