John O Gaunts Reservoir is one of four small reservoirs in the valley of Oak Beck situated between Harrogate in the east and Washburndale to the west. The reservoir is at the far end of the parish of Haverah Park the origins of which date back to the medieval period when it was a hunting forest.
The reservoir is the westernmost of the four and, unlike the other three, is situated within the boundary of the Nidderdale AONB. On the OS maps John O Gaunts and its near neighbour Beaver Dyke Reservoir are listed collectively as the Beaver Dyke Reservoirs. However, a Yorkshire Water signpost next to the reservoir clearly gives its name as John O Gaunts Reservoir. Both reservoirs were constructed in 1890 to supply water to Harrogate.
The name is no doubt due to the presence of John O’Gaunts Castle, the meagre remains of a medieval hunting lodge, which overlooks the reservoir and which presumably has a connection with John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and son of King Edward III.
John O Gaunts Reservoir is a lovely and very natural little sheet of water. Hopefully it won’t go the same way as neighbouring Beaver Dyke Reservoir which was commissioned in 2013 and which now lies empty. A couple of commemorative benches, one celebrating 50 years of the local rambling group and the other placed the Stott family of Beckwithshaw to celebrate someone’s 90th birthday, are testament to the fact that while the reservoir may not be well known it is a favourite spot of those who do know it.