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Swinsty and Timble Loop

Situated to the north of Otley in the beautiful Washburn Valley. Yorkshire Water (the land owners) have cleared up and created a couple of permissive bridleways around Swinsty Reservoir (Close to Fewston Reservoir on the A59 Skipton – Harrogate Road).

I remember the first time riding this some years ago being quite underwhelmed. Now I love it and ride it weekly. A great evening ride with a tons of speed, downhill woodland sections and trails for not much climbing (which is mainly on tarmac anyway). Riding the Dales can often feel like hours of huffing and puffing for a few minutes downhill at the end, so it’s nice to ride something which isn’t too hard work but packs in so much speed and fun.

Catch it on a good evening and the sunset views are the best over Fewston Reservoir. We would be the only ones in Swinsty car park 10 years ago, now it’s become pretty popular with walkers and people having BBQs so try and choose your time.

Another ride that can get pretty muddy in winter. A superb night ride though.


Total distance 7.6Miles
Grin Factor

Total Distance: 8.46 Miles
Total Climbing: 944 ft
Time: 0.58 hrs

Off-road: 5.3 mi
On-road: 3.3 mi

Climbing Distance: 3.3 mi
Descent Distance: 3.3 mi
Flat Distance: 1.86 mi

Terrain: Open single track, woodlands, a tarmac climb to start. Very fast once you know your way around.


Elapsed TimeMoving TimeDistanceAverage SpeedMax SpeedElevation Gain

The Route

Start Point:  SE 1870 5371 – GPS N 53 58.748 W 1 42.973 Start in the Swinsty Moor plantation car park – Busky Dike Lane off the A59.

  • Turn left out Swinsty Moor plantation car park past Fewstone Church then Fewstone reservoir on your right.
  • At Swinsty & Fewstone car park, turn left on North Lane towards Timble, a gentle tarmac climb.
  • Other side of Timble (past the Timble Inn), straight on crossing B road Rues Lane / Sowerby Lane onto the bridleway.
  • Keep climbing track through a gate, climb the track to its highest point, the last 100 yards bears right to a summit.
  • Continue down the woodland track, bearing in mind that about half way down you have to turn right.
  • Follow the track, it turns into a rough concrete section (fast) but turn left off the concrete onto a single track, then left again. Following the track down to a single track under some trees.
  • Straight on at the clearing.
  • Follow the track with some woodland and a stream on your left hand side, eventually reaching a gate. The track climbs and meanders hard left and then suddenly drops down steeply into an ancient woodland section, follow this eventually you hit a gate crossing Rues Lane. Go straight across into the next woodland section and then turning quickly right of the single track (climbing rather than straight on).
  • Ride right through the woods ignoring all left and rights until you hit a t junction, turn left downhill and at the foot of the hill right onto the single track hidden behind a drystone wall.
  • Another short but nice section, eventually you hit a Fewston road, turn left and climb the short climb to Swinsty and Fewstone Reservoir car park.
  • Enter the car park and take the single track which graduates to Swinsty reservoir on your left. Eventually you should be travelling around Swinsty reservoir anti clockwise. Cross the dam and follow the track fully around the reservoir, once the track deviates from the reservoir, turn left onto single track, (Swinsty path) follow this single track through the woods, left onto Smithsons Lane, a couple of hundred yards on your left is your start point at Swinsty Reservoir car park.
  • Congratulate yourself on tackling a route with so many lefts and rights and do it again but this time faster.

Route Photos

Turn left out of Swinsty Moor plantation car park towards Timble.
North Lane towards Timble.
Straight on.
Through the gate.
Turn right.
Pretty much the highest point of the ride.
Turn right half way down the woodland descent.
Fast woodland section (if you want it to be).
Follow single track under low trees.
Straight on at the clearing.
Through gate.
Steep drop into a woodland section.
Through the gate, cross Rues Lane into the next woodland section.
Leave the track and climb right.
Left onto tarmac, a short climb to Swinsty and Fewstone Reservoir car park on your right.
Car park track to Swinsty Reservoir.
Cross the dam
Turn left onto single track

Food & Stuff

There’s an ice cream van in Swinsty car park? Apart from that. The Sun Inn at Norwood for beer, pub lunches, live music and Henry the resident peacock.

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