THRUSCROSS Reservoir, near Blubberhouses, is renowned for its peace and tranquillity.

There are some beautiful paths near the shoreline which combine with a taste of the more wilder moorlands to the north. Throw in the remains of the dam workings, a drowned village and it makes for an interesting five-mile walk.

Near the dam on the southern end of Thruscross lies the free Yorkshire Water car park and the best if not only place to start the walk. I usually head clockwise around the reservoir.

Leave the car park via the main entrance cross the road and enter the woodland via a gate. The path leads down to the water edge. Thruscross is the 4th of the Washburn Valley reservoirs, only completed in 1966. Turn left and follow the good path which clings close to the water for three quarters of a mile. The views across the water are good but not as impressive as the eastern banks.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A map of Thrushcross Reservoir A map of Thrushcross Reservoir (Image: Jonathan Smith)

The construction of the reservoir resulted in the drowning of the small village of West End. Around this north west corner of the reservoir are a number of reminders of the villages past, particularly after a period of dryer weather (not now!). The remains of the flax mill are particularly noticeable along the first of the two north western arms but other remains of the village can also be seen. An interesting and slightly macabre side view is that the bodies from the churchyard at West End were exhumed and re-buried out of harm’s way at Greenhow Hill Road. A stile on the first north west arm leads on to a minor road that crosses Capelshaw Beck.

The road climbs from the road bridge but before the steeper section head right along a lane, past some farm buildings following the public right of way towards Whitmoor Farm.

From the farm the road turns left at the edge of the forestry and enter some wilder moorland walking for three quarters of a mile. Where the woods end the path drops sharply right to a footbridge crossing the River Washburn. This is a lovely spot, on the cusp of some very wild and untamed land to the north. Please note on the O/S maps the best route, preferred by Yorkshire Water, is orange of colour. Once over the river follow this path up to some obvious sandstone rocks before it bends south east and south. The views are the most open of the walk, particularly at this time of the year before the bracken starts to overrun the path.

As the path bends south it drops towards the reservoir, over a ladder stile near some woodland before arriving water side. Turn left and follow the obvious path, flagged in places alongside the water till it enters some woodland.

Turning due south, follow the path for a further 300 metres before it climbs to join the road. Follow the road as it turns right and crosses the dam wall with great views both north over the reservoir and south over a large open landscape.

Please Note: Up to the end of October the initial mile is temporarily closed by Yorkshire Water who are repairing storm damage.

The alternative route follows the quiet road (left out the car park then right towards Breaks Close Farm) to the west of the reservoir re-joining down a lane to ‘West End’.

* Fact Box:

Distance: Roughly five miles

Height to Climb: 170m (560 feet).

Start: SE 154574. There is a free Yorkshire Water car park.

Difficulty: Easy/Medium: Not a straightforward reservoir walk with some climbs and rougher walking but all the better for it.

Refreshments: Bring your own! There is nothing nearby.

Be Prepared: The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer 297 & 298) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass (essential on this walk). You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors. Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.


Jonathan runs Where2walk, a walking company based in the Yorkshire Dales. He has published three books on walking in the Dales; ‘The Yorkshire 3 Peaks’, ‘The Dales 30’ mountains and the ‘Walks without Stiles’ book. All these books (and more) are available direct from the Where2walk website.

Book a Navigation (Map and Compass Skills) Training day near Settle (the 2024 dates will be out shortly) or a bespoke day for a private group. All dates and details are on the Where2walk website. also features hundreds of walks across Yorkshire and beyond, from easy strolls to harder climbs.