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

Return to our website here:

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

Return to our website:

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

Return to our website:

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!

Return to our website:

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

Return to our website:

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

Gnome aiming for Wainwrights record

John Kelly may have run them fastest, but Gnigel the Gnome is aiming to be the smallest to complete all 214 Wainwright fells in the Lake District.

Gnigel is the mascot at Rydal Lodge Country House B&B near Ambleside whose owners, Helena and Mark Tendall, are keen walkers – and enthusiastic run-supporters.

John Kelly at Rydal on his epic Wainwrights run

They were inspired after seeing Kelly, the 37 year old American, on his record-breaking run last week, when he stopped for food in the car park of the pub opposite their guest house.

Gnigel has already been off on adventures with visitors who stay at the Rydal Lodge. But now Helena and Mark are asking their guests to take the gnome with them when they set off on Wainwright-bagging walks of their own.

Gnigel: gnome with big ambitions

Many walkers set themselves a lifetime challenge of summiting every peak in Alfred Wainwright’s seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells. Kelly, a data scientist and father of four from Tennessee in the US, completed them all in five days, 12 hours and 14 minutes.

“Our neighbour James Gibson had an attempt on the Wainwrights record a few weeks ago, and had an amazing run in spite of terrible weather,” said Helena. “We are so close to the action here, and saw John Kelly on a brief stop at the Badger Bar. What he achieved is just awesome.”

Gnigel the gnome: making plans with maps

Gnigel is well placed to start his own Wainwright-bagging. Rydal Lodge lies at the foot of the Fairfield Horseshoe (eight Wainwrights) and in the shadow of the small but beautiful favourite, Loughrigg Fell. The 320-mile (515km) challenge, which includes England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, involves a total ascent of 36,000m (118,000ft).

“Gnigel is ready and waiting for anyone who wants to take him along – and take a photo on the summits,” said Helena. “He’s not going to take up much room in a backpack, after all.”

Rydal Lodge: welcoming walkers
  • John Kelly smashed the record set last year by Sabrina Veerjee – who supported him in this attempt – by about 11 hours. He was also assisted by Nicky Spinks, a breast-cancer survivor, who has broken numerous fell running records, Steve Chilton whose own record was beaten by Paul Tierney three years ago, and Rydal’s James Gibson. Kelly had to abort his first attempt at the challenge last July after suffering with heat and foot problems.

To stay at Rydal Lodge please visit

Exploring the area, things to do and see.