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Swinton Estate Trails: Top Lake Loop

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Swinton Estate Trails: Top Lake Loop
Author: Swinton Estate, Published: 28 Aug 2018 Walk Rating:star1 Swinton Estate Trails: Top Lake Loop Walking Guidestar1 Swinton Estate Trails: Top Lake Loop Walking Guidestar1 Swinton Estate Trails: Top Lake Loop Walking Guidestar1 Swinton Estate Trails: Top Lake Loop Walking Guidestar1 Swinton Estate Trails: Top Lake Loop Walking Guide
North Yorkshire, Nidderdale
Walk Type: Garden or park
Swinton Estate Trails: Top Lake Loop
Length: 2 miles,  Difficulty: boot Swinton Estate Trails: Top Lake Loop Walking Guide
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IMPORTANT NOTE: This parkland walk is open every day from 10am to dusk. Earlier access is available by arrangement.

A circular walk of about 3.7km (2.3 miles), within the gardens and parkland of Swinton Estate in North Yorkshire. The privately-owned estate stretches from the River Ure in Wensleydale up onto the moors. This loop gives you chance to see the walled garden, the deer park, the spring garden, the coffin pond (with its beautiful stone bridge and old boathouse) plus the top lake with its abundance of wildfowl. This walk is part of the Swinton Estate Trails collection, published through a collaboration between iFootpath and Swinton Estate to encourage people to discover the 20,000 acre Estate with varying terrain such as woodland, reservoirs, moorland, gardens and parkland.

This route follows the permissive paths within Swinton Park, provided with permission of Swinton Estate. Access is free of charge during 2018 (a small entrance fee will apply from early 2019). The walk has only steady gradients, with nothing too steep or strenuous. It follows a mixture of paved paths, stone paths and unmade woodland paths, which can be muddy or uneven in places. You will need to negotiate three simple metal gates and some flights of steps, but there are no stiles on route. You will not be sharing any of the paths with livestock (the deer park is fenced away from your paths). Swinton Estate welcomes visiting walkers (and canine companions) but please remember the usual countryside code rules; take your litter home with you, keep dogs under close control and be careful to shut any gates behind you. Allow 1.25 hours.

In terms of facilities, the Terrace Restaurant and Bar within the Swinton Hotel complex is available for refreshments at the start or end of your parkland walk. The bar area is dog-friendly, there is a beautiful courtyard garden and walkers will receive a warm welcome.

If you are a visiting walker, please park in the Swinton Country Club and Spa car park. From Masham, head south on Park Street and then turn right into Swinton Terrace (which becomes Swinton Road). After about a mile, you will see a side road and the impressive stone gates for Swinton Park on your right. Do NOT enter these gates, instead turn right to follow the side road. Ignore two more gateways within the wall on your left (the first is Exit Only and the second is for Deliveries) and take the third gateway which leads you into the parking area for the Country Club and Spa. Approximate post code HG4 4JH.

Walk Sections

Start to Deer Park Junction
Start to Deer Park Junction

Start point: 54.2127 lat, -1.6756 long
End point: 54.2122 lat, -1.6791 long

Standing with your back to the road, walk diagonally left to reach the left-hand end of the spa building. Bear right along the tarmac deliveries drive, to reach the green entrance door for The Terrace on your right. Go through this door (open from 10am, walkers and dogs are welcome) and go ahead up the steps and through the doors to enter the Terrace Bar. (In a moment, you will need an access code to unlock the first garden door, so please call at the bar and request the Walled Garden Access Code - walkers will be given the code free during 2018, but a small entrance fee per person will apply from early 2019).

Once you have the access code, exit the rear door of the bar to reach the beautiful courtyard garden. Cross this diagonally left, heading up several flights of steps to reach the garden door in the top left-hand corner. Enter the access code and go through the door to enter the walled garden. The natural walled garden at Swinton covers 4 acres with a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs, which are used by the on-site restaurants and cookery school.

Go ahead on the gravel path, with the stone wall on your left. A little way along, the path turns right and leads you to a fingerpost. Turn left (signed to the Gardens and Play Area), leaving the main gravel path and going up a step to join the stone path between the vegetable beds. If you glance across to your left here, you will see a lower section of wall that gives a glimpse of the birds of prey aviaries (please do not try to approach the birds).

You will come to a T-junction in the stone path. Turn left, heading to the wall, fork left to pass through the wall gap and then turn immediately right to follow the stone path leading you through the flower section of the natural walled garden. As you reach the top wall ahead, head diagonally right to exit the garden via the door (signed to the Parkland, Lakes and Spring Garden). You will see a play area and picnic site ahead. This picnic site is set within an area of park known as the Spring Garden. This is home to cherry trees, bluebells, azaleas and rhododendrons that produce a riot of colourful flowers and blossom in the spring months.

Turn left and follow the path to reach a small path T-junction. Turn left here to reach the next junction, with a gate on your left, a bench on your right and the fenced deer park directly ahead. Turn right at this junction.

Deer Park Junction to Bird Hide
Deer Park Junction to Bird Hide

Start point: 54.2122 lat, -1.6791 long
End point: 54.2135 lat, -1.6832 long

Keep ahead on the main stone path, passing the bench on your right and with the fenced deer park on your left. The deer park supports a herd of approximately 200 fallow deer, including 20 bucks. Some of these are very pale in colour – commonly mistaken for albino.

A little further along you will come to a fork in the stone path (with a fingerpost). Take the right-hand branch and keep ahead to pass the bird hide on your right. This gives an excellent view of the parkland bird feeders, with chance to see plenty of woodland birds.

Bird Hide to Stone Bridge
Bird Hide to Stone Bridge

Start point: 54.2135 lat, -1.6832 long
End point: 54.2145 lat, -1.6849 long

Continue ahead and down to your left you will see the pond known as Coffin Pond. The path leads you past an old tree stump, now carved into an armchair. Stay with the path winding alongside Coffin Pond and look out on your right for two impressive stone coffins which were extracted from a nearby quarry. It is thought that they date from the Saxon period, and that they were coffins for the nuns in the local nunnery.

Soon after passing the coffins, the path leads you past the stone remains of a boathouse on your right and then across the old stone bridge. The earliest record of a garden at Swinton Park is of one laid out in 1699 to a design by George London. The lakes were designed as part of a landscaping programme during the 1760s, when the Danby family were in residence at Swinton. This stone bridge was added in the early 1800s.

Stone Bridge to Hill Top Junction
Stone Bridge to Hill Top Junction

Start point: 54.2145 lat, -1.6849 long
End point: 54.2141 lat, -1.6876 long

Beyond the bridge, follow the main stone path as it swings left along the top of the pond and then swings right, leading you away from the pond and steadily uphill. You will emerge to the next path junction (marked with a fingerpost), with views of the Lily Pond across to your right. Go straight ahead at this junction, following the stone path leading you more steeply uphill. At the top of the hill, you will reach a staggered T-junction (marked with a fingerpost).

Hill Top Junction to Stone Alcove
Hill Top Junction to Stone Alcove

Start point: 54.2141 lat, -1.6876 long
End point: 54.2135 lat, -1.6939 long

Turn right at this junction, signed towards Top Lake. After just 50 metres you will reach a fork in the path, take the right-hand branch. A little further along, look out for a gap in the trees on your right, giving a beautifully-framed view of the rolling Dales pastures to the north. At the end of this stretch of path, you will reach a T-junction with Top Lake directly ahead.

Turn right to continue your walk, with the lake on your left. The lake attracts a wide variety of birds, so keep your eyes peeled for ducks, geese, moorhen, coots, herons and cormorants. The path leads you through an impressive rock formation including a stone seat and alcove, which was built in 1832.

Tap the Listen button below (App only) to hear more about the Top Lake from Felicity Cunliffe-Lister, owner of Swinton Estate.

Stone Alcove to Top Lake Gate
Stone Alcove to Top Lake Gate

Start point: 54.2135 lat, -1.6939 long
End point: 54.2123 lat, -1.6928 long

Continue on the path, with the banks of Top Lake on your left. The path leads you over a bridge (built in 1803). Glance to your right here and you will see a stone druid’s seat set within the parkland wall. Follow the path as it swings left, to continue around the lake.

You will pass a hand-drawn cable ferry on your left. This ferry is used to transport guests to the private Georgian-style summerhouse retreat on Lake Island, The Lake House. A secluded and romantic spot, the venue is popular for proposal and anniversary celebrations. Continue on the lakeside path to reach a metal gate ahead.

Top Lake Gate to Hill Top Junction
Top Lake Gate to Hill Top Junction

Start point: 54.2123 lat, -1.6928 long
End point: 54.2142 lat, -1.6876 long

Go through the gate (remembering to secure it behind you) and follow the path as it swings right (under the boughs of beech trees) to reach the next fingerpost. Bear left, passing a bulbous-based beech tree on your right and then keep ahead along the left-hand edge of the grass field. At the far side, go through the next metal gate (securing it behind you) and keep ahead on the path which leads you over the embankment bridge at the eastern end of top lake.

Follow the path as it swings left to reach a fork. Take the right-hand branch which veers steadily away from the lake’s shore. At the end of this stretch you will come to a staggered junction with a fingerpost, which you may recognise from the outward leg. Turn right for about 50 metres to reach a fork, the Hill Top Junction that you should recognise from the outward leg.

Hill Top Junction to End
Hill Top Junction to End

Start point: 54.2142 lat, -1.6876 long
End point: 54.2128 lat, -1.6756 long

Take the right-hand branch (signed to the Hotel). The stone path leads you steadily then more steeply downhill, with Coffin Pond on your left. From this vantage point, you will have an excellent view of the stone arched bridge on the far bank, which you crossed earlier. On your right you will have the fenced deer park once again. Beyond the pond you will come to a path junction.

Bear right to re-join the path which you followed for the initial stretch of the walk. From this point we will simply be retracing our steps back to The Terrace. To do this, keep straight ahead on the stone path with the deer park on your right and, as you approach a gate ahead, turn left (signed to the Spring Garden).

Keep right at the path fork (passing the play and picnic area on your left) and pass through the door to re-enter the walled garden. Take the path almost directly ahead. Just before you reach the aviary gates ahead, turn left through the wide wall gap, then turn left, immediately right and right again to reach a fingerpost. Turn right to reach the wall and then turn left to reach a door in the bottom corner of the garden. Go through this door to reach the Terrace courtyard garden. Head diagonally left through the courtyard via several flights of steps, to reach the bar. Head into the bar for some well-earned hospitality.

If you would like to buy a small memento from your adventures in Swinton Estate, why not head over to the Estate Shop (accessed via the Country Club and Spa).

Remember...the best way of following our walking guides is to use the iFootpath App (iOS and Android) where you will have all the information in the palm of your hand and see your exact location on the live map as you travel. You can also add comments, photos, ratings and track your own routes.

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network Swinton Estate Trails: Top Lake Loop Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by iFootpath and the author swintonestate and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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6 Gallery Images for: "Swinton Estate Trails: Top Lake Loop"

11456_0swintonestate1536217114 Swinton Estate Trails: Top Lake Loop Walking Guide Image by: Swinton Estate
Uploaded: 06 Sep 2018
The Walled Garden
11456_1swintonestate1536217115 Swinton Estate Trails: Top Lake Loop Walking Guide Image by: Swinton Estate
Uploaded: 06 Sep 2018
The Walled Garden
11456_2swintonestate1536217115 Swinton Estate Trails: Top Lake Loop Walking Guide Image by: Swinton Estate
Uploaded: 06 Sep 2018

11456_3swintonestate1536217115 Swinton Estate Trails: Top Lake Loop Walking Guide Image by: Swinton Estate
Uploaded: 06 Sep 2018
The Terrace Bar
11456_0swintonestate1536217235 Swinton Estate Trails: Top Lake Loop Walking Guide Image by: Swinton Estate
Uploaded: 06 Sep 2018
The Saxon coffins
11456_1swintonestate1536217235 Swinton Estate Trails: Top Lake Loop Walking Guide Image by: Swinton Estate
Uploaded: 06 Sep 2018
The well

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