Pitsford Reservoir Cafe

Pitsford Reservoir (Pitsford Water Park) Review

Pitsford Reservoir (Pitsford Water Park)

Gary Box

Variety for dogs
Dog socialisation
Dog waste bins


Lovely walk with reservoir for dogs who love water. Has lots to recommend it but unfortunately the high cost of parking means it’s not a regular for us. Quite a lot of flying bugs in summer and the Willow Tree restaurant is expensive and service poor.


A location Ewelina and I like to visit with Archie our Border Collie is Pitsford Reservoir, also sometimes referred to as Pitsford Water Park. It’s situated a short distance to the north of Northampton and is well signposted as you get near. The entrance I normally use is actually known as Brixworth Country Park where Pitsford Cycles and The Willow Tree restaurant are located. The best Pitsford Water postcode to use if you want to use your sat nav would be NN6 9DG.

Pitsford Reservoir – What I like

As a dog owner there are a number of things to like about Pitsford Water Park. There is ample parking, toilets and a well stocked restaurant though these potential benefits can also be regarded as weaknesses as I will discuss later. The area has a lovely rural feel about it with extensive views which include the large reservoir itself. You can exercise your dog for as long as you want here.

The first time we visited the area one Sunday we walked most of the day which included villages like Old where we stopped at The White Horse pub for a drink and bite to eat. Indeed the Pitsford Reservoir walk distance alone is some 7 miles in length. It should be said that this path around the reservoir is a hard surface so is suitable for people with disabilities. It also means that it’s suitable year round and by sticking to the path your dog won’t get muddy.

Pitsford Reservoir – What I don’t like

Unfortunately things are rarely perfect and that’s certainly the case here. My first gripe is the cost of the parking. The minimum is £3.00 which is for 12 hours. Whilst it might be possible to spend 12 hours at Pitsford Water Park I’d be willing to bet that most people spend far less. As such why not have parking rates for just one hour? Don’t think you will give your ticket to someone else to use once you leave either as the ticket machine is one that asks you to input your car registration when buying the ticket. It’s also coins only so you won’t be able to use your debit card. Thankfully the cycle hire shop seems willing to give you change if all you have is notes.

Another possible downside from a dog owner’s point of view is that some areas are marked as ‘dogs on leads’. This does not seem to be strictly observed however and I’m not sure if anyone would enforce it, especially if your dog is well behaved and has decent recall. The main pathway around the reservoir is popular with cyclists, mainly at weekends. Our own dog responds well when bikes pass him but cyclists rarely seem to acknowledge when you get off the path to let them pass. This seems mainly to apply to MAMIL’s (middle aged men in lycra) who can often be very militant in their hatred of everyone (car owners, pedestrians and dog owners included).

My next negative does not always apply. On my most recent visit there seemed to be swarms of flying bugs that would follow you and hover close to your head. It’s the first time I’ve experienced it but having said that all previous visits were during autumn and winter. Maybe more regular visitors could comment below as to whether this is normal. It can certainly impact on your enjoyment of a walk though. I did not see that many dog waste bins at Pitsford Water Park but that alone would not cause me to give a negative review.

The final thing I did not like about Pitsford Reservoir relates to The Willow Tree Restaurant which I’ve previously mentioned as a positive! Now their menu and opening hours are more extensive than most places where I have walked dogs. The problem is that the restaurant is expensive and service poor by which I really mean slow. Staff will sometimes chat to themselves and ignore customers in the queue. Things don’t improve once you’ve placed an order though as there are long delays and things don’t always arrive together. I thought maybe I was just unlucky in the service I received but looking at reviews on Google it seems a common complaint. It’s a shame as otherwise I would see the restaurant as a big positive to those wanting somewhere to walk their dog.

Should you be thinking about visiting Pitsford Water Park you might find the map below from Anglian Water useful.

Pitsford Water Park Map
Pitsford Water Park Map
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    1. I did clearly mention the dogs on leads signs and that I personally always make the effort to completely step away from the path to let cyclists pass. Now I could have the dog on the lead and not move off the path as I would be entitled to do so that cyclists have to pass in single file. If you read my blog posts you will see this is the lowest rated dog walking location I’ve reviewed and one that I have hardly ever visited. I don’t want conflict and prefer other locations where I won’t encounter cyclists. By mentioning the fact that it’s a popular location with cyclists I’m forewarning other dog owners. If you read my review of Sywell Country Park you will note that I mention that the two nature reserves are on lead areas and that the rest is OK for off lead. I also mention that Sywell does not seem to attract cyclists (and as such it might be a better location for dog owners).

      Thanks for the comment though!

      1. I am a dog owner and a cycle owner.
        I like to think I don’t fall into a certain category. I’m middle aged but without the lycra. Maybe the lycra is the game changer here haha.
        End of the day it’s all about manners and respecting one another.
        Something that can feel in short supply wether you are a cat driver. A cyclist or a dog owner

        1. Hi Colin,

          Yes agreed it’s just about manners and respect. The point of my post was to highlight it as a possible issue so that dog owners are at least aware. I find there are much better locations to walk dogs in Northampton and at the end of the day I prefer a hassle free life where possible.


  1. I’m with Gary on this. Cyclists do know that dogs do not like, are frightened of and will react to a cycle. But, do they EVER warn you that they are approaching from behind you? NOT EVER. I always walk my dog, whether signs say to or not, so that he is always under my control. The only time there is ever a problem is when a silent cyclist appears from behind me. They are then irritated that the dog reacts! Runners can be the same. So, I suggest that, because these paths are for all of us to use, this would be a way of us doing so in harmony. I am sick and tired of dog owners being blamed for this and it would be so simple to remedy. All cycles are sold with a bell by law……so why not use them? Just a suggestion but no doubt I will get abuse for mentioning it……ho hum!

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for your comment. I think we are talking about a certain section of cyclists. I’ve had lots of positive interactions with cyclists but they tend to be families our for a gentle ride on a Sunday. The conflict always seems to be with those that take their cycling more seriously, almost competitive. It seems the more expensive the bike and the more lycra the rider wears, the more likely you will get a mouthful of abuse.

      As you say lots of users want to share these places but some cyclists seem to think it’s their personal racetrack / velodrome. Cycling has become a political lobby too. Due to deaths on roads they wanted all trucks fitted with new, expensive technology. Many companies responded with signs warning cyclists not to pass on the inside or similar warnings. When I hear about cycling deaths it’s always struck me that it’s usually with a lorry and these drivers are professionals who in most cases will have undergone far more testing than the average driver.

      Having spoken to other people it seems it’s not just drivers who are at odds with cyclists. Pedestrians are fed up of being run over when crossing at red lights etc. There was recently a story of a women killed by a cyclist who was cycling an illegal bike with no front brake. Apparently he never showed any remorse and even went on social media blaming her!

      Rather than court conflict though I much prefer to avoid places where cyclists like to frequent. Luckily in Northampton there are lots of great places to walk a dog where you don’t fear a mouthful of abuse from cyclists. That’s what frustrated me about the initial comment, had they taken the time to read a selection of my posts they would have seen that I rated Pitsford low and recommend other places instead.


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