Lake Semerwater in Wensleydale is The SECOND largest lake in Yorkshire.
Semerwater July 31st 2005

Lake Semerwater occupies a remote and tiny dale off the upper reaches of Wensleydale and can be reached from the A648 Between Hawes and Aysgarth. A road leads South from Bainbridge and, after a two mile journey, the shores of Semerwater come into view.

There is a small car park on the water’s edge and the lake is popular with anglers and sailing enthusiasts. It is also very rich in wildlife and its surroundings offer pleasant walks.

A steep hill leads from Countersett to the waters’ edge. The lake avoided by the villages and houses, has a loneliness which adds to its charm. It covers 104 acres, but can flood to double the size, spreading over the marshy land at the head, and the meadows at the foot, making the road impasable. 

The name comes from the old english sae, sea or lake, and mere, which can mean either pool or marsh, giving the whole as meaning a marshy lake.

Semerwater owes its existence to the Ice Age. There was no outlet for the ice from Raydale because of the Wensleydale glacier, in its turn blocked by that of the Vale of York, and as the ice melted, drift dammed the foot of the valley, and a large lake was formed, of which this is a remnant. Eventually the water cut a narrow way through the drift, making the course of the River Bain which is Englands smallest river at only two miles in length.It carries the lake’s waters into the river Ure at Bainbridge, while gills, streams, becks and springs in three small dales (Cragdale, Bardale and Raydale) keep it replenished.

The Carlow Stone, a large rock shaped at one end like a face, and two stones known as the Mermaid Stones, at the foot of the lake, are all Shap granite boulders brought down by the ice. There is a tradition that the Carlow Stone was dropped by a giant as he hurled it from Addlebrough at the devil on Crag Hill. The stone which the devil hurled back fell just short of the summit of Addlebrough; it is called the devil’s stone.
There are many legends and folklore about Lake Semerwater and a sunken village. In 1937 when the water level was very low excavations uncovered an iron-age settlement on what is now the bed of the lake.

  A late Bronze Age Spear head was found on the shore of the Lake

Can be seen at The Dales Countryside Museum Hawes

Semerwater in Angry Mood early 1900s

Lake Semerwater frozen in 1929


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