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Semer Water Nature Reserve

From the air Semer Water resembles a pearl lying in the heart of Raydale. Ducks and waders wheel over the nature reserve with the calls of curlew, oystercatcher and snipe filling the air.

Semer Water is the largest of only three natural water bodies in Yorkshire; a glacial lake which was formed at the end of the last Ice Age when huge amounts of glacial till blocked the outflow.

Crooks Beck takes the water from three feeder dales upstream through the nature reserve. There is a full range of habitats from open water with swamp species like yellow water lily, through to fen, marsh and willow carr to developing ash woodland on the driest part. The sandy shore supports a fine growth of needle spike-rush and an abundance of sedge species dominate and it is here that the waders feed. The willow species are challenging with many hybrids but bay willow dominates.

Top Tip:

Visit when the ice breaks up, its music echoes around the dale.

Once the ground-nesting birds have fledged the nature reserve is grazed with cattle and sheep and excess rush is cut in late summer when possible.

Recently a belt of mixed ash wood has been planted on the eastern boundary as part of a project to slow rainwater run off into the lake. Much of the site is an old lake bed which still floods regularly and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust also control a wedge of the lake to a central buoy. The level of the lake was lowered by 3ft in 1937 and the old shore line is still visible.

Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife book, which has detailed information on all of Yorkshire Wildlife and Sheffield Wildlife Trust’s reserves, is available to buy now from our online shop.

Public Transport

Bus service to Bainbridge then walk up the River Bain footpath to the lake and on to the site.


Take the A684 Leyburn-Hawes road and exit at Bainbridge. Follow signs for Semer Water. Park at Low Bean Farm for a small charge and take the footpath opposite the farm across the fields to the nature reserve. There is also limited free parking in Stalling Busk.


Want to see more of Semer Water Nature Reserve before your visit? Have a look below.

Semer Water Nature Reserve photos in our Flickr group


Nearby nature reserves

Yellands Meadow Nature Reserve
7 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Ashes Pasture
10 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Brae Pasture Nature Reserve
11 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Low Blean Farm
North Yorkshire
Map reference
SD 918 866
Great for...
a family day out
Best time to visit
Nov - Sep
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
37.09 hectares

Hazardous to explore the reserve away from footpaths; if you plan on leaving the footpaths please contact the Trust for a plan of ditches etc. Contact the Trust for disabled access information.
Walking information
Please keep all dogs on leads.
Car park on lakeside or in villages nearby.
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01904 659570