Vast reservoirs in the heart of the Washburn Valley are well worth a visit, writes reporter RUBY KITCHEN in the latest of our Hidden Gems with Visit Harrogate.
Scenic reservoirs in the Washburn Valley, with a vast history hidden under their still waters, truly are a hidden gem of the Harrogate district.
The four reservoirs were created by Leeds City Council which flooded the land from the 19th century to create a water source for the region.
Now these picturesque areas, from Fewston to Swinsty, Thruscross and Lindley Wood, are a haven for wildlife, walkers and families seeking urban escape.
There are walkers for all ages - and fitness levels. From shorter strolls around Fewston from 3.9 miles to more strenuous treks through Timble Ings Wood at 6.2 miles.
And, close to Fewston and Swinsty, there is even the Washburn Heritage Centre.
This centre was built in 2010 by the Parochial Church Council and a group of volunteers, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and local fundraising.
It can be found in a modern extension to the 17th century Fewston Church, and the tea rooms are open to the public at weekends.
Here there are exhibitions celebrating the rich history and natural resources of this valley, dating back to Neolithic times.
And the history of these reservoirs is fascinating. The valley was flooded to create them in the 19th century, with the last, Thruscross, completed in the 1960s.
Beneath the waters of Swinsty, meanwhile, are the remains of New Hall. It was a home of the Fairfax family including the poet Edward Fairfax. Neighbouring Fewston Reservoir covers another Fairfax family home, Cragg Hall.
And Timble village, close to Swinsty and Fewston reservoirs, has perhaps the most fascinating history of all. It was home to The Witches of Timble, accused of witchcraft by poet Fairfax but tried and acquitted twice at York.
Hidden Gems is written in conjunction with Visit Harrogate, the official tourism body for the Harrogate District. Discover more inspiring days out at www. visitharrogate.co.uk
For more on Thruscross Reservoir, see My Favourite Place on page 21.