Hidden Semer Water

  • 2nd largest ‘natural’ lake in the Dales
  • Tranquil, peaceful and well managed
  • Pretty, unspoilt hamlets

I was very impressed by Semer Water and how the 2nd 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 under the charge of an outdoor centre and a well laid out path passing next to the Lake. There is nothing more irritating when conservation groups become high handed and start banning people from great swarths of attractive countryside.

Semer Water is hidden up a side  valley of Wensleydale and rarely visited. I only managed the traditional low level circuit but really there appears a lovely detour over the higher ridge to the west of the road which only adds an extra mile and a bit of height. The whole area oozes peace and tranquility and  backs up my view that the best of the Dales is found in these side valleys. ‘The undiscovered Yorkshire Dales’ – now that is a thought!

Recommend: Tempting as it is to say a pint of Semer Water (it really exists, a pale bitter), this is a walking site and I certainly believe the whole valley deserves more time to explore than a quick walk round the lake.

Download GPX file

Semer Water map

All maps are copyright of Where2Walk ©2018

OS Map: O/S 1.25,000. OL30 Yorkshire Dales North & Central
Start Point: SD 919879. Countersett. Head down the hill towards the 'beach'
Height to Climb: 91 ms (298 feet)
Terrain: Well signposted and easy paths. The return is via the road unless you take the 'recommended' ridge top route.
Eating & Drinking: Nothing I spotted up the valley but a special mention for the Corn Mill tea shop in Bainbridge, sandwiches are great and the cakes looked good!
Similar Walks Nearby: Waterfalls above Askrigg
Wensleydale Highway
A climb up Addleborough
Places to Stay:


Hazel’s Roost, WensleydaleThornton Lodge, Wensleydale


Stone House Hotel, nr HawesSouth View Cottage, Hawes


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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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