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Visit the Dales


Semer Water

Like Malham Tarn, this pretty lake set in the lap of Raydale, a side valley off Wensleydale, is unusual in the Yorkshire Dales in being naturally-formed. The pure waters of Semer Water have supported a wonderful variety of wildlife for thousands of years ever since the last glacier melted leaving it behind. Ten thousand years ago, Stone Age hunters came here because herds of deer and wild horses gathered at the lake to drink.

Today the lake has a good population of our endangered native white-clawed crayfish. In July there is a spectacular display of thousands of flowering yellow water-lilies, once known as 'brandy bottles' because of their shape and smell.

As there are only two natural lakes left in the Yorkshire Dales, it's no surprise that legends about the lake abound. One story is that the huge stones on the foreshore arrived from Addlebrough crag, after a fierce battle 'between devil and giant'. The most well-known legend tells of an old hermit who was,refused shelter during a storm. He let loose a terrible flood drowning all but a kindly couple, who had given him sanctuary!

What's going on in the Dales

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Three Peaks

Find out everything you need to know about walking the iconic Yorkshire Three Peaks.

Essential visitor info

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Get outdoors

Find out about walking, cycling, mountain biking and horse riding


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