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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