This is Durham: Durham’s Reservoirs

Get back to nature at the water’s edge; learn to fish and catch your own supper while taking in the stunning scenery

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The Independent Travel

Grassholme Reservoir, in the lovely undulating pastures of Upper Teesdale in the Durham Dales, is the perfect spot for a day out. There is something there for all the family: a four-mile path around the water’s edge, a nature reserve, picnic area, a shop selling ice creams and snacks, and thousands of trout, just waiting to be hooked out of the water.

Anyone can learn to fish – as many of the visitors to Grassholme, and Durham’s other fishing reservoirs, Derwent and Hury, can testify.

Everything an angler could need, from rods and bait to waders, is available from a shop in the fishing lodge at each location; complete beginners can buy a starter pack which provides all the necessary paraphernalia, including a permit for a free day’s fishing. This would normally cost £23 for an adult, and it also allows two under-18s to fish for free. Rangers are on hand at each reservoir to give tips and advice, and to pass on their experience. It is usually not just the fish that get hooked – the angling bug is an infectious one, and first-timers are often surprised at how easily they can become proficient.

All the reservoirs are well-stocked, and with more than 135,000 fish of the highest quality available across Durham this year, most anglers can expect to go home with a good haul – and the prospect of a fresh, locally-sourced supper. But fish is not the only form of wildlife in and around the water, so any family members who can’t be persuaded to try angling can enjoy a gentle walk exploring the meadows and trees near the water. Among the best of these trails is the two-mile loop around Tunstall Reservoir, a scenic mix of woodland, pasture and nature reserve. An astonishing variety of birds, butterflies and small animals can be found here, as well as countless species of plants and trees. There’s more than enough on offer here, and at the other reservoirs in the region, to ensure everyone can have an enjoyable day in the fresh air.

Learn to fish

For those who have no idea how to attach a bait to a hook, three-hour try-it sessions are available at Derwent Reservoir and other fisheries in the area.

Pay £30 (£15 for children, a reduction of £5 on last year’s price) and you will receive tuition from an expert who will teach you everything you need to know in order to tempt a trout on to your dinner plate. Courses run on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Where to stay in Durham

Durham has a host of accommodation options which provide facilities for cyclists and walkers. Click here are a few highlights.

To discover more of Durham’s great outdoors, visit