Five reasons why cyclists love Rydal Lodge

We have a lot of cyclists staying here, for many reasons, but we’ve whittled down the top five reasons why they love Rydal Lodge.

For starters

There are easy routes for beginners and for families with young children. Literally just around the corner is the start of the road under Loughrigg, a flat stretch of almost two miles where many a youngster has learned to ride.

At the far end, Clappersgate, there’s a short stretch onto the A593, but very soon a left turn onto the quieter Hawkshead road, then loops via Outgate, Barngates (and the famous Drunken Duck) and Brathay, or further afield to Skelwith Bridge, Elterwater or Tarn Hows.

Tarn Hows

Challenging routes

From Rydal Lodge there are some terrific challenging road routes for cyclists. For example, you might want to head out to Langdale and beyond, maybe over Blea Tarn Road, and then perhaps over Wrynose Pass. Or you might want to head in the other direction, in the east, up and over the road known as “The Struggle” to the top of Kirkstone Pass and then down to Patterdale. The views will spectacular; the brakes will be tested!

Lakeland Loop

This is a challenge for the serious cyclists. The Lakeland Loop, at 69 miles, with 2284 ft elevation, is one of the top cycling sportives
and passes within half a mile of our guest house. We watch it go by. Everyone seems to be smiling!

Photo: Mick Hall

The big daddy of them all

The Fred Whitton Challenge, known locally as The Fred, is the toughest one-day event in the UK. At 180k, the route goes over all the Lakeland passes (one of them 30% gradient) , and that means Hardknott, Wrynose, Honister, of course. And then goes past our front door!

Cycling in Whinlatter Forest, Bassenthwaite

Peace of mind

Last but certainly not least, here at Rydal Lodge we offer cyclists security and peace of mind. Your bike is worth a lot to you. If you’ve driven here
with a bike rack, we have plenty of car parking space safely off the road. But most importantly we have a lock-up shed so your bike is safe and secure when you’re not out riding. And dry. (Not that it rains much in the Lakes).

Murder on the Lakeland fells

THERE will be murder on the Lakeland fells this autumn, and guests at a Rydal hotel will be helping to solve it.

A murder mystery weekend will be staged at the Rydal Lodge County House B&B near Ambleside in November.  But there are no actors involved. Guests will be playing character parts for the entire weekend until the murderer is revealed on the Sunday.

Nearby Rydal cave: could this be where the murderer is found?

Helena Tendall, who runs Rydal Lodge with husband Mark, has created the themed weekend in which the fictional owner of a Bowness guest house is found dead in a septic tank.

“No one is above suspicion as dark secrets emerge,” says Helena. “Illicit affairs, fraud, suspect sausages, plots for revenge and drug addiction are all intertwined in the life and death of our victim.”

Helena Tendall: writing murder plots

It’s an elaborate plot, but Helena has form; she used to run a business called To Die For…Murder Mystery, writing her own plots, and providing every guest with a separate booklet with their script for each scene.

A member of Ambleside Players and a woman of great imagination, Helena’s previous “murders” have included entire days with ramblers searching for clues in the countryside, a poisonous blowfish dropped into a coffee cup, words written in blood on the floor, riddles that provide clues, and a top chef imprisoned for poisoning wedding guests at the Ritz.

This time, along with clue hunts in the countryside around Rydal, there will also be a pub lunch included, a wine tasting game on arrival, and dinner at Rydal Lodge during which Acts 3 and 4 will be revealed.

Secret gate at Rydal Lodge garden: follow the clues

“It’s great escapist fun, and we have a fantastic location here for our guests to do some sleuthing in the countryside,” says Helena.

The event will be staged over the weekend of Nov 4 – 6, and the price includes the murder mystery, all meals, and two nights b&b. For details see Themed Weekend Breaks (; for more information and to book, email or call 015394 33208.

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World champion gets children ready for Ambleside Sports

Children at our local primary schools are learning the skills of traditional wrestling from a world champion.

Connie Hodgson, the Ladies All Weights world champion at Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, was invited to do some coaching at Ambleside, Grasmere, Coniston and Langdale Schools.

It’s part of the build-up to Ambleside Sports when the Junior Schools Tournament is the first event on the wrestling programme.

“It’s not a haphazard attempt to get youngsters to have a go,” said Ambleside Sports president Jak Hirst. “The children are taking part in training which takes them through the basic holds, moves and etiquette used in traditional wrestling.”

Now mini tournaments will take place in the individual schools and ultimately a team of four will be selected from each school to take part at Ambleside Sports. 

Said Ambleside Primary School teacher Megan Rimmer: “The children can’t believe they’re allowed to wrestle each other in school! They also like the fact that the smaller children with a good technique can bring the bigger children down. Now they are all looking forward to seeing the experts in action at Ambleside Sports.”

The Junior Wrestling Tournament is sponsored by the Ambleside Freemasons Lodge.

Ambleside Sports will be held on Thursday July 28 at Rydal Park. Tickets are available online at

We are a few minutes’ walk away from the sports ground so call us now if you’d like to stay close to the action. Go here to return to our website

The best themed weekends in the Lake District

We have the best themed weekends in the Lake District for you. And they are all right here at Rydal Lodge for you to enjoy.

So whether your interest is art, photography, the outdoors, or just a weekend to die for, we have it all covered.

Learning to paint in our garden

Watercolour painting

One of the best themed weekends in the Lake District offers the chance to capture the remarkable landscape on your own canvas. Accomplished watercolour artist Ron Bailey will run a two-day course here  (September 30 – October 2) giving you instruction, and giving you confidence, to create your own work of Lakeland art. Ron finds this to be such an inspirational place to paint. He’s a talented artist and we were thrilled when he offered to come and share his skills with our visitors. He’s run several weekend sessions already. Book yours here:

Roe deer near Rydal. Photo by Ashley Cooper

Wildlife photography

Here’s a chance to explore the area around Rydal, Grasmere and beyond with the award-winning wildlife and landscape photographer, Ashley Cooper. He’s been all around the world, taking photos on every continent, and focussing especially on the impact and effects of climate change. His work was published in a lavish and much sought-after book, Images from a Warming Planet. And you can see his work on his website

Here in the Lakes he will take out both beginners and those with some experience who want to hone their skills. October 28-30. More details:

Murder Mystery

This is a weekend break to die for, where you will all be playing character parts in a murder plot. You’ll go out on a countryside search hunting for clues, and work as a team to decide who dunnit. Then you’ll get together over dinner to carry on detecting. There will be a prize for the winning team, and we’re starting the weekend with a wine tasting game to get you in the mood. Further details here then email when you’re ready to book.

The writing hut, Rydal Mount

Poetry please

We work closely with Rydal Mount, the home of William Wordsworth, which is only a couple of minutes’ walk from here. So it seems perfect to share our love of Wordsworth’s poetry with you. This themed weekend will include a tour that follows in the footsteps of Wordsworth, across the Lake District. Among other places, this will take you to Dora’s Field, and to Ullswater, the two best places in the Lakes to see the daffodils that inspired Wordsworth. And of course there will be the chance to enjoy some of Wordsworth’s poetry in the house or gardens at Rydal Mount.  This one will be from March 31-April 2, next year, 2023, but we know it will be popular so email us now to book. info@outandaboutaroundrydallodgebandb


Pied wagtail: photo by Ashley Cooper

For this, one of the best themed weekends in the Lake District, we welcome back Ashley Cooper. He will take you out on a gentle stroll of around four miles to look for birds in the local woodland, and along the shores of the rivers and lakes. Ashley is out every day in this area with his camera and binoculars, so he really is the true expert. This break is aimed at novice birdwatchers who would like to learn more and improve their identification skills. It’s from April 21-23 next year, 2023. Email for more information and booking: info@outandaboutaroundrydallodgebandb

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Top wildlife photographer to run course at Rydal Lodge

An award-winning wildlife photographer is to lead a special weekend of tuition at our hotel in the autumn.

The Rydal Lodge Country House B&B near Ambleside has teamed up with the internationally acclaimed Ashley Cooper who will take guests to explore the landscape of the Lakes with their cameras.

Participants will have the opportunity to quiz Ashley on what he thinks makes a stunning and marketable image, as well as having their own work critiqued with many tips and hints on how to improve their photography.

Ashley filming on location

Ambleside-based Ashley is best known as the only living photographer to have documented the impacts of climate change and the rise of renewable energy on every continent on the planet. His climate change work can be seen on his agency site

His epic book, Images from a Warming Planet, was published in 2016, containing 500 of the best images from his global project. The book won the Gold Award in the Green Apple Awards, and copies are owned by Pope Francis, Al Gore, Prince Charles, Emmanuel Macron, Sir Tim Smit, Sir David Attenborough, Chris Packham, Emma Thompson, Chris Bonington and many more.

“We will start with a discussion of what type of imagery people are interested in capturing and what they hope to achieve,” said Ashley.  “Then we will go out into the fields, the local woodland, rivers and lakes to see what catches the eye, whether that be majestic sweeping landscapes, or the smallest leaf detail.”

The photographers will be provided with a picnic lunch, and return late afternoon for a further opportunity to discuss equipment and techniques. After dinner at Rydal Lodge, Ashley will present a slideshow of some of his Lakes-based landscapes and other work, and all participants be given a copy of his book.

On the Sunday, guests can spend the time testing their new skills, with a late checkout of 2pm to give them time to explore more areas around Rydal and beyond.

Helena Tendall, co-owner of Rydal Lodge, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Ashley. His images are used on TV and in books, newspapers and magazines all around the world, and have appeared on the front covers of most UK national newspapers.”

Ashley Cooper’s success as a photographer often lies in seeing what many others don’t, in capturing the smallest details. This paid off when an American pharmaceutical company paid $45,000 for a backlit shot of aerial pollen grains.

For five years Ashley has been the lead judge on the global Environmental Photographer of the Year competition. He also works for a Chilean company on board small, specialist expedition ships taking clients to the Antarctic peninsula, where he has worked as lecturer and expedition photographer.

When not indulging his passion for photography, Ashley is a keen birdwatcher and has also been a member of Langdale/Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team for 30 years.

The dates are October 28-30. For details of how to book, and details of other themed weekends at the Rydal Lodge, see

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The real world of Swallows and Amazons

ON the shelves of our library here at Rydal Lodge, there are books which get picked up time and time again by visitors from all over the world.

The Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome, set in a world that seems very old fashioned, with scarcely-recognisable habits and attitudes, nevertheless seems as popular now as they were almost one hundred years ago.

It was in 1930 that the original story was published, telling the adventures of the Walker children – the Swallows – who meet Nancy and Peggy Blackett – the Amazons – sailing together to an island in a lake which bears similarities to both Coniston Water and Windermere.

Photo by REX/Moviestore Collection Swallows And Amazons 1974, Stephen Grendon Film and Television

They were allowed to spend nights camping on the island, unsupervised. They sailed without lifejackets. They made camp-fires, on the lake shore and on the island. And they went off together – unsupervised – to climb a mountain named otherwise but clearly Coniston Old Man.

Is it the nostalgia for a simpler time when children really were given much more freedom, were told – in a telegram from their father – “Better drowned than duffers, if not duffers won’t drown”? Or is it the exquisite artistry of Ransome as a writer, a master storyteller? Probably a combination of both.

Young fan on board Swallow in the harbour of Wild Cat Island

When we took part earlier this year in a marathon reading of one of the books in the series, Winter Holiday, at the Windermere Jetty Museum, we were joined by people much younger, and much older, than us. A well-known radio broadcaster read a chapter, and so did her teenage daughter. We had an ultra-distance runner, an artist, a university lecturer, a couple of journalists, and a woman who had travelled all the way from Cornwall to take part.

Gallery of readers at the Winter Holiday marathon

Visitors to the Lake District try to find locations from the books. The island the children call Wild Cat is actually Peel Island on Coniston. The lakeside town they call Rio has to be Bowness. The tumble-down hut used as a refuge by Dick and Dorothea in The Picts and the Martyrs can be found on the hillside above the eastern shore of Coniston.

Artist Liz Wakelin was in action at the Winter Holiday reading: here’s one of her sketches

Many books have been written about Ransome, his storytelling, and the search for locations; our favourite is Arthur Ransome and Captain Flint’s Truck by Christina Hardyment.

There are many members of The Arthur Ransome Society, a multi-generational community of like-minded people who enjoy Ransome’s  writing  and “the philosophy of self-reliance”.

But the stories themselves are read and re-read time and again, here in our library, and around the world. When you come to stay, take a little time out to sit and enjoy one of the books. Ask us if you want to know more, or to visit locations from the books, or from the still-popular 1974 film version. It’s a perfect way to immerse yourself in the world of the Lake District.

Swallows and Amazons: Pride of place in our display of the Literature of the Lakes

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Lakes painting weekend to be held again

Aspiring artists are learning to paint in watercolour this coming weekend in the heart of the Lake District. And our tuition package has proved so popular that we plan to run it again in the autumn.

Artist Ron Bailey is treating his weekend pupils to his expert advice and guidance here at the Rydal Lodge Country House B&B near Ambleside.

It’s a perfect setting in the heart of Romantic Lakeland which has been inspiring artists for centuries.

Ron has been involved in teaching art to adults for more than 40 years, using watercolour, oil and acrylic, pen and wash. He paints mainly landscapes in a traditional style but also enjoys doing more contemporary work. He currently has work on display at a gallery in the north Lakes.

Ron finds this to be such an inspirational place to paint. He’s such a talented artist and we were thrilled when he offered to come and share his skills with our visitors. He’s run several weekend sessions already, and this one has been so popular we’ve already invited him to come back again in the autumn.

Our Rydal Lodge, just north of Ambleside, is a riverside B&B set in beautiful grounds at the epicentre of the Romantic movement in the Lakes. Just across the road is Rydal Mount, once the home of the poet William Wordsworth. And also nearby is the picturesque Grotto, in the grounds of Rydal Hall, which was built specially for artists with a window onto a spectacular waterfall. It was designed so that painters could sit in comfort while they captured the view.

But we are also surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the whole of the UK, from the tranquillity of Rydal Water and Grasmere to the majestic heights of Loughrigg fell and the Fairfield horseshoe range of mountains. It’s a dream setting for artists.

The next painting weekend will run from Friday 30th September to Sunday 2nd October 2022 and includes two days’ painting tuition, two days’ bed and breakfast accommodation and light lunches, and a non-painting partner can stay in the same room for a £40 supplement. Prices range from £302.50 for sole occupancy.

Bookings by phone or email only: or 015394 33208

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Gnigel the Gnome meets the record breaker

After our mascot Gnome Gnigel started tackling the Wainwrights – thanks to our guests who were prepared to take him along with them – he then had an exciting night out at Theatre by the Lake and met his hero.

John Kelly, the new Wainwrights record holder, was giving a talk at the Keswick Mountain Festival, and was very pleased to meet Gnigel (they are friends on twitter and facebook already).

Gnigel’s now done Nab Scar and Loughrigg, by the way. Two down, 212 to go!

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Car-free holidays are best for the Lakes

We are going green here at Rydal Lodge with a welcome for guests who can forget about using their cars.

We want to show visitors that they can have a full Lakeland experience on foot, bike or on public transport. We have an on-site car park, a dream location near lakes and mountains…and a bus stop outside the front door.

We, that is Helena and Mark, share growing concerns about volumes of traffic in the Lakes, and the high price of fuel. And we think you really don’t see the best of the Lake District from behind a steering wheel.

So to persuade our guests to relax and leave their car keys behind each day, we have prepared a series of walking maps with easy-to-follow routes, all of which can be done from our garden gate.

Everyone is aware that they need to act more sustainably, and with a greater concern for the environment, and we are in a position to help Lake District visitors do just that

There are five in the series so far, ranging in distance from two to six miles, and including the summit of Loughrigg fell which rises behind our hotel. And there are walks which include the shore of lovely Rydal Water, which can be reached from our back garden whose gate leads directly to Dipper Bridge over the River Rothay.

But more strenuous walks can also be achieved from Rydal Lodge. Just across the road is the path that leads to the start of the Fairfield Horseshoe, with eight Wainwright summits to be bagged along the way,. It’s also easy to reach Wansfell, Red Screes, Stone Arthur, Silver Howe and Helm Crag from here.

Then there’s the convenience of the bus route which passes Rydal Lodge. We have guests who want to climb Helvellyn. So they take the bus to Swirls, walk up from there, and along the summit ridge, coming down either to Wythburn or to Grasmere to catch the bus back. They all say what a good day out it is.

Rydal Lodge is a former historic coaching inn set in extensive, quiet gardens which reach down to the banks of the River Rothay. It’s an ideal place to wind down after a day on the hills, or to curl up inside with a book in the library, or a bottle of wine from the honesty bar. Across the road, ideal for dinners, is the popular Badger Bar.

As well as having a private car park for guests, Rydal Lodge is also used by travellers who come to the Lakes by train, to Windermere, and then catch a bus to their destination.

There are others who bring bikes, and for them, we can advise on the best routes for road and trails. And there’s a lock-up shed where bikes can be stored.

This is what we want to encourage. Everyone is aware that they need to act more sustainably, and with a greater concern for the environment, and we are in a position to help Lake District visitors do just that.

The five mapped walks available for guests are:

  • Rydal Water and Grasmere circular
  • High Sweden Bridge via Ambleside
  • Ambleside via Rydal Park, returning along the Rothay
  • A walk around Rydal Water visiting Rydal Caves
  • The ascent of Loughrigg Fell

For more information and booking email or call 015394 33208

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Welcome to our blog

We’re Helena and Mark, and we want to help you enjoy your stay here at Rydal Lodge. We will bring you news items about our B&B, we’ll tell you what’s happening in and around Ambleside and Rydal, and we will share our favourite photos and videos with you.

Contact us: or 015394 33208

Exploring the area, things to do and see.