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Sywell Reservoir Trail

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Sywell Reservoir Trail
Author: Claire, Published: 07 Mar 2017 Walk Rating:star1 Sywell Reservoir Trail, Northamptonshire. Digital walking Guidestar1 Sywell Reservoir Trail, Northamptonshire. Digital walking Guidestar1 Sywell Reservoir Trail, Northamptonshire. Digital walking Guidestar1 Sywell Reservoir Trail, Northamptonshire. Digital walking Guidestar0 Sywell Reservoir Trail, Northamptonshire. Digital walking Guide
Northamptonshire, Ecton
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Sywell Reservoir Trail
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot Sywell Reservoir Trail, Northamptonshire. Digital walking Guide
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A 3 mile circular walk in Sywell Country Park, Northamptonshire. The walking route is a simple circuit of Sywell Reservoir. Formerly a drinking water reservoir the site is now managed by the county council as a country park for wildlife and recreation. There is plenty to entertain the whole family on the site, with play areas, wildlife gardens, picnic areas, woodlands, meadows, bird hides, a cafe and visitor centre.

Sywell Country Park is open every day except Christmas Day. The route is relatively flat, with just a couple of slopes. Half of the paths are compacted stone but the remaining sections are grass paths through the meadows and these can be very muddy in winter and after wet weather. You will need to negotiate 8 kissing gates but there are no stiles or steps on route. All the kissing gates sit alongside wide farm gates which are usually unlocked, but this cannot be guaranteed. There is still a pretty stretch of 0.8 miles before the first gate is reached, if the gates pose an access problem for you. Dogs are welcome in the park and dog waste bins are provided at regular intervals. Some of the meadows are grazed by livestock for conservation at some times of year. There are public toilets in the car park at the start of the walk. Allow 1.5 hours.

Sywell Country Park is located on Washbrook Lane, about 1 mile north of Ecton and 6 miles north-east of Northampton. Follow the brown signs from the A4500. The site has its own pay and display car park and the fee is £3 per day all year round (correct Mar 2017). Approximate post code NN6 0QX.

Walk Sections

Start to Dam Wall Junction
Start to Dam Wall Junction

Start point: 52.2774 lat, -0.7798 long
End point: 52.2785 lat, -0.783 long

Standing in the car park with your back to the toilets and visitor centre, walk to the far left-hand corner of the car park. Join the path that leads you steadily uphill, alongside the long water channel with its stepped weir.

This cascade is within the byewash channel, forming the overflow from the reservoir. It releases water into a local stream. Whilst Anglian Water no longer owns the reservoir itself, it does have emergency powers over the water. These were last used in August 1984 when water from the reservoir was used to flush out a pollution incident in the River Nene.

Part way up the cascade, turn left across the bridge to enter a picnic area. Follow the stone path as it swings steadily right around the outer edge of the picnic site. At the top of the picnic area you will come to a junction of paths, with the dam wall to your right and the reservoir visible ahead.

Dam Wall Junction to Bird Hide
Dam Wall Junction to Bird Hide

Start point: 52.2785 lat, -0.783 long
End point: 52.283 lat, -0.7913 long

Go straight ahead on the surfaced path, with the reservoir on your right.

From 1906 to 1976 Sywell Country Park was a working drinking water supply reservoir and today it still contains reminders of its industrial past. The working buildings have been converted to become the visitor centre and cafe and the access areas form the car park and footpaths.

Further along, you will come to a wide wooden gate and kissing gate ahead. This marks the entry point for Hayes Wood Wildlife Refuge (and dogs need to be on leads for this next stretch). Pass through the kissing gate and continue on the surfaced path through the woodland, swinging steadily right. There are several nest boxes and feeding tables that attract lots of birds and we were lucky enough to see a sparrowhawk.

Eventually you will come to the first bird hide on the reservoir, accessed via a fence-lined stone path on your right. If you want to take a small break, this makes a good place to pause and enjoy the woodland wildlife.

Bird Hide to Spindle End
Bird Hide to Spindle End

Start point: 52.283 lat, -0.7913 long
End point: 52.2873 lat, -0.7827 long

When you have finished at the hide, return to the main path and turn right along this to continue your journey. At the end of the woodland section, you will come to a second kissing gate. NOTE: You may come across livestock at times in some of the next few meadows. Go through the gate to enter Hayes Meadow, and turn immediately right (initially following the line of fence on your right).

Stay with the obvious meadow path, which swings steadily left with the reservoir clearly visible again on your right. Look out for the wildfowl on the reservoir, cormorants can often be seen perched on the submerged fence posts near the water’s edge.

The third kissing gate leads you into the next stretch of meadow, known as The Holmes. Continue ahead, passing a belt of silver birch trees on your right. Pass through the fourth kissing gate and follow the meadow path as it swings left to reach the fifth gate.

Go through this and continue ahead (alongside the fence on your left). Just after passing a bench (Sue’s Seat) on the left, you will see a waymarker post with a blue arrow at a fork. Fork right here and follow the grass path leading you diagonally downhill to reach the bottom right-hand corner of the meadow. Turn right through the sixth kissing gate to join the stone path which leads you across the north-eastern tip of the reservoir, known as Spindle End.

Spindle End to End
Spindle End to End

Start point: 52.2873 lat, -0.7827 long
End point: 52.2777 lat, -0.7797 long

Follow the stone path as it swings right, leading you through Silver Meadow, with the reservoir now clearly visible again on your right. Now simply follow the wide stone path ahead, passing through a seventh kissing gate along the way, to reach the second bird hide on the reservoir. This hide is particularly well placed for watching the waterfowl.

Rejoin the reservoir path (with the water still on your right) and pass through the eighth (and final) kissing gate. You will reach a path junction with the dam wall on your right. Turn right heading towards the dam wall, with its beautiful red brick octagonal valve tower (you will see an adventure playground through the hedge on your left). Do NOT continue onto the dam wall, instead fork left immediately beforehand.

Follow this surfaced path meandering downhill, with the grass slope of the dam wall on your right. At the bottom of the slope (with a set of steps on your right), turn left and this path leads you past the Butterfly Garden, the Amphibian Pond and a play area all on your right. These three attractions sit on the former site of the Filter Beds that would have purified the drinking water.

Beyond the play area you will come to the car park ahead where the walk began. From here you can explore the play areas and visitor centre should you wish.

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network Sywell Reservoir Trail, Northamptonshire. Digital walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2017 by iFootpath and the author clairesharpuk 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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7455_0Richard1488874713 Sywell Reservoir Trail, Northamptonshire. Digital walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 07 Mar 2017
View from the first Bird Hide - March 2017
7455_1Richard1488874713 Sywell Reservoir Trail, Northamptonshire. Digital walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 07 Mar 2017

7455_2Richard1488874713 Sywell Reservoir Trail, Northamptonshire. Digital walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 07 Mar 2017

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