Semerwater is the second largest natural lake in North Yorkshire, after Malham Tarn. Semerwater is half a mile long, covers 100 acres and lies in Raydale, opposite England’s shortest river the River Bain.
Raydale camping barn is a handy base to explore the area. Semerwater is ideal for those who want to canoe, windsurfer, yacht or fish. Alternatively there are loads of footpaths in and around the area, to take in its beauty.
According to an old legend, Semerwater was once occupied by a prosperous city. One night an old man (or in some versions, an angel in disguise) came down to the city, in search of food and drink. He went from door to door, and at each house he was turned away. Finally, he came to the hovel of a poor couple just outside the town; the couple took him in and treated him with great kindness.
When the stranger was about to leave, he turned to face the town and uttered the curse:
“Semerwater rise, and Semerwater sink, And swallow the town all save this house, Where they gave me food and drink.”
An alternative version as told by locals;
“Semerwater rise, Semerwater sink, drown all the people In the village except for this house which gave me meat”. And as soon as this was said, the waters of the lake rose up and flooded the village, drowning the proud inhabitants and leaving only the hovel of the poor couple on the hillside unscathed