I chose to walk around Thruscross Reservoir today, because I thought it would be the safe option after the recent snow dump. My only concern was what if the ground was icy? I didn’t anticipate there actually being snow.
I had this image of the path around the reservoir having been cleared. Of course I did. I am from London after all.
It actually started out rather fun. The first half of the walk is under woodland, so the snow covered ground was manageable. Walking out across the moor was another story entirely.
In parts knee deep snow, in others, slipping and nearly doing the splits. Steep hills where there should be steps, but now just a very steep snow covered slippy hill that nearly ended in bum slides.
By the time I finished the walk around the Thruscross Reservoir, my feet were soaked through with ice water.
It was quite adventurous actually….but I was glad when it was over.
Read more: What to wear for hiking in cold weather
In this guide, I’m going to give you a bit of an overview of the Thruscross Reservoir walk, with logistics, a map, and some tips. Then I will give a route description with photos.
How long does it take to walk around Thruscross Reservoir?
To walk around Thruscross Reservoir, allow about 2h. You could probably do it quicker. I was engulfed by snow which slowed me down.
Is Thruscross Reservoir dog friendly?
Yes. Thruscross Reservoir is a popular place for dog walkers. All the stiles have doggy doors, and there are dog poo bins about. When I walked it, every single person (except me) had a dog roaming off lead.
What to expect on the circular walk around the Thruscross Reservoir
I would divide this walk into three sections. The first part is under woodland along the edge of the reservoir. Then there is a section where you will be walking high up, away from the Thruscross reservoir, and across the moor. After this, it’s back along the reservoir, but this time right up close, out in the open.
The trail along the woodland section undulates a lot. On the other side, you will have a few hills.
- Start/Finish: Thruscross car park.
- Where is it: Nidderdale AONB. Nearish to Harrogate. The nearest big road is the A59. Post code for the car park is HG3 4BB.
- Public Transport: No
- Distance: 5 miles circular
- Time: 2h for me
- Terrain: I can’t be entirely sure, as it was covered by the snow. The sign says there are sections of rough, uneven, potentially muddy terrain. I think there might be bog. Sometimes my foot got sucked into some under the snow. There are definitely steps. Grass was poking through in some parts.
- Dog friendly: Yes
- Amenities: None, other than the car park
- Time of year: I walked this in winter, obviously
Read more: How to stay warm when Winter hiking
Parking for the Thruscross Reservoir
There is a free (at the time of writing) car park on the edge of the reservoir. It’s called Thruscross car park. If approaching from the Harrogate direction, you will have to drive over a very narrow, long, one lane car kind of bridge. I can’t imagine how that will work if it’s busy.
Thruscross Reservoir circular walk map
You can find my more detailed route map for the Thruscross Reservoir walk on AllTrails.
Want to try some other walks in the area? Check out my best of Nidderdale guide here.
Tips and other things to know
- If you just want to walk along the woodland side of the reservoir, then I think trainers would be ok. For the moor, I got the feeling it can be muddy and boggy. So if you plan to walk the full circular route, then I would suggest hiking boots.
- On the other side of the reservoir, at the time of writing, part of the trail is closed due to fallen trees. It’s ok because for this route, that is the same point you leave the woods anyway to go up onto the moor. If you want to avoid the moor, then once this trail opens again, you could stay along the woodland trail.
- I did the walk on the weekend at midday. There weren’t that many people there. Was it because of the snow, or is it just a lesser known place to walk? I’m not sure. I have read that the nearby Swinsty and Fewston reservoirs are the more crowded ones.
Thruscross reservoir is owned by Yorkshire water, and they have a few others nearby which you can also walk around. The Fewston Reservoir and the Swinsty Reservoir, are bit further south in Nidderdale. These ones are a bit busier, and less rugged.
A guide to the circular walk around the Thruscross Reservoir
I chose to walk around the Thruscross Reservoir clockwise, so I will describe it as such.
From the car park, directly opposite the entrance, is the entry to the woods. I started out very excited on this walk. As I entered the woods, there was a real fairytale winter wonderland vibe. I was certain this would be a great day.
For the next while, the walk is mostly under woods, alongside the reservoir. I can’t say what the terrain is like here, because it was covered in snow. What I can say though, is it undulates a lot. There are a couple of bridges and some steps thrown in for good measure.
Nearing the end of this section, the reservoir was a bit frozen. It was quite beautiful….Probably not ice skating worthy though.
Walk around the pinnacle
The reservoir has a sort of pinnacle. To walk around it, it looks like there is a stone wall (everything was covered in snow), then a short bit of walking next to a road.
Once over the next bridge, the trail takes you back. I couldn’t see a trail, but I could see some footsteps so I followed them.
This would become the theme for today. Follow the footsteps.
After a bit of ankle deep snow walking I found the trail, which takes you a bit higher up from the Thruscross Reservoir. You will be briefly out of the woods, before entering again.
Walk out of the woods and across the field
You will want to exit the woods at some point. Right now, the woodland trail is closed at the point where you need to leave, which makes it easy. Sometime navigating through woods can be tricky, as everything looks the same.
Once out of the woods, continue up the hill, and you should now be in what I think is a field*
*Don’t quote me on that.
Once I got into this ‘field’, it was an attack on my senses. Up the hill and out of the shelter of the woods, I was sweating, my fingers were cold, and I was blinded. I didn’t think to bring sunglasses with me whilst I spent the winter in Yorkshire.
This section was my first inkling that today would be tough. Although, at first I was filled with joy. Snow walking. Novel.
The thing is, this field is on a slant, and it became increasingly difficult trying to navigate through ankle deep snow on a slant. There were a few slips, and splits.
Further along, where tufts of grass were poking through, I found myself doing a sort of hop scotch across them.
The dogs ahead of me looked to be having fun. At the stone wall, rather than taking the steps, one of the dogs leapt right over the wall. I didn’t know dogs could jump that high.
There is a fence along here with a locked gate. I didn’t navigate across all of that, to not get passed it. As I was about to climb over, I noticed a stile crossing to the left.
The snow hill
As I approached a lovely looking viewpoint bench, a fell runner came bounding past, and disappeared quite suddenly.
Once I reached the bench and looked down at where he had gone, my first thought was, no.
No way am I getting down that. I paced a little back and forth trying to figure out another way. There might have been one. But the snow was hiding everything. So I slowly tried to inch my way down.
One step would take me into knee deep snow, another would cause a mini avalanche slip.
The guys with the dogs came up behind, and settled themselves on the bench, asking me if the steps were looking treacherous.
I looked harder, and someway further down, I could see a few steps poking through. I just had to make it to those steps….they turned out to be not much use though.
When I reached the bottom, I let out a sigh of relief. The hard part was over, and I was treated with a beautiful view along the stream, surrounded by pretty snowyness. Then I looked up…
The snow hill part 2
Now it was time to go up. The steps were more visible going up the hill. That’s something at least. Plus, there were cool looking rocks up the top.
Once I reach the top, I was treated with a wonderful view across the snow covered landscape.
I also had no idea where to go. There was no visible trail up here. All I had was the footsteps of others. So I followed the footsteps.
Along the moor, I felt a little like I was walking in the wilderness. All I had was the footsteps in the snow to follow, and the occasional trail signpost which reassured me I was going the correct way.
At the first stream crossing, there was a wooden plank to get me across. The next ones were not so forgiving.
I can’t say whether these were steams, or just sections of bog. For one of them, I put my foot down and got sucked down through the snow and into a mass of water. My left foot was now done. My right foot, at this point was still only just a bit damp. So I tried to hold onto that.
At the next wet section, I had a look around to find a way to cross, and found a patch that others had found. They had created foot placement snow holes. Knee deep snow holes.
I suspect that walking across the moor, would usually be quite easy in terms of fatigue. Today, it was anything but.
Once I could see the Thruscross Reservoir again, and the footsteps starting taking me towards it, I felt such relief, that I might get something easy to walk on….
Walk back along the Thruscross Reservoir
To get back to the reservoir, there is one more very short but steep section. There are definitely tree roots here.
Once I arrived on the Thruscross Reservoir edge, I was pleased to see exposed ground to walk on. This didn’t last long, before I was presented with a different type of terrain.
Now it was time for slush and mud.
The trail along here becomes very narrow. My only option was slush mud trail, or ankle deep snow on a slant. I went with the slush.
It was very slippy and spashly, and deceptively deep in parts. By now my right foot was done. I was so wet, that there was no point trying to be careful, so I just stomped my way through all of it.
On a positive note, this section of the walk along the Thruscross Reservoir was very beautiful. Lovely views. As much as I was hating the snow right now, it did look pretty.
The road and the bridge
At some point, the trail will take you away from the Thruscross Reservoir, where you will walk first alongside, and then onto the road.
At the road, turn right.
I had never been so happy to be walking on a road.
The road will take you downhill, and to the bridge, to walk across the Thruscross Reservoir. I was now thinking about the dry cosy boots in my car. Actually, that’s a lie. I had been thinking about them for a while. But now they were close. I picked up my pace.
On the other side of the bridge, there are steps to the left, which will take you back up to the car park. I looked at them, partially hidden by snow.
No thanks. I stuck to the road.
Pin it for later: Thruscross Reservoir circular walk guide
You can find out more about the local area and other things to do on the Visit Harrogate website.