Semerwater has previously been called ‘the Atlantis of the Dales’. One of only three natural lakes in North Yorkshire, legend has it that the village of Semer was lost to a flood after a travelling hermit (who was also a sorcerer) cursed the village for refusing to offer him shelter. The only villagers to escape the rising waters were a family living in a shepherd’s hut higher up the dale, who were the only ones to offer the traveller a place to stay…

The lake is popular for a variety of water sports, including fishing, kayaking, canoeing and SUP – more details can be found on the Lake Semerwater website for those with their own equipment. Alternatively a number of companies such as Alfresco Adventures offer water sports courses/equipment hire on the lake.

Semerwater is the source of the river Bain, which at just under four kilometres is one of the shortest rivers in England, and powers a small hydro electric dam which provides electricity to most of the properties in nearby Bainbridge.

Bainbridge is a popular starting location for those who want to walk to Semerwater. This six mile circular walk from Walking Britain offers wonderful views over Wensleydale and takes you along the Roman Cam High Road, which is a rather bleaker side of Wensleydale but equally beautiful. You don’t spend too long on this road – much of the walk passes through green meadows and the return leg follows the river back to Bainbridge.

There is roadside parking along the village green in Bainbridge – please park considerately and leave some money in the honesty box.

There are plenty of opportunities for spotting local wildlife on this walk – there were dozens of lapwings in the fields we passed through and Sam even spotted an owl when we passed through an overgrown woody area!

The walk itself is pretty hilly on the way to Semerwater but the return to Bainbridge is generally flatter. Navigation skills are required as the path is at times indistinct and turning points can be easily missed (we detoured slightly after missing the turn off the Roman road!

Dog friendly rating – 3.5/5. Like many walks in this part of the Dales, many of the fields you walk through will contain livestock, and in these areas dogs should be kept on a lead. We didn’t go down to the lake itself as it was pretty busy with people in canoes and kayaks when we walked past, but the river Bain is accessible in places and is a great place for your pooch to have a paddle or a drink. The main section where you can let your dog off is the long walk along the Roman road, which is walled off and doesn’t have any traffic passing along. Ours both loved this walk, and as an added bonus it was very quiet with very few other dog walkers, so if you have a noisy dog like Coal there’s one less thing to worry about!

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