The best walks from Rydal

HERE at Rydal Lodge we believe we have the best location for walkers in the whole of the Lake District. We can cater for walkers of every ability, experience and level of ambition. So if you are new to the Lake District, want an easy few days strolling, or a hike to the high tops, we can share the routes from our door.

But first: please get a map! We have some basic route maps here at Rydal Lodge, but there’s so much fun in learning how to read a map, to plan where you’re going, and better still,to relive the memories afterwards. Don’t rely on your phone. Google Maps is great at ground level, but what happens when your signal disappears in the mountains?  We have friends in the local mountain rescue team and we don’t want to make their lives any busier!

And make sure you have the right kit. Full waterproof and windproof cover if you’re going on the high tops, and decent walking boots. At lower level you’ll manage with trainers, as long as they have a good grip. Take extra layers; it can get very cool even on a summer day. Take plenty of water, and energy-giving snacks. Please, tell us where you’re heading. It’s just a safety net in case anything goes wrong.

But we’ll start with the easier walks, where you won’t be far from civilisation, and yet still in the loveliest countryside in the world.

  • To Ambleside and back via Rydal Park. This is an ideal introduction on your first day here, especially if you’re new to the Lake District, want to get your local bearings, and maybe call in some shops midway. Head south along the main road for 100m and then turn right over Pelter Bridge and walk ahead on the road known as Under Loughrigg. There might be a few cars, but you’re more likely to see hikers, robins, and perhaps a heron on the River Rothay on your left. Just over a mile along here, take the left turn over the old packhorse bridge, Miller Bridge, and then right through Rothay Park into Ambleside town centre. Time for some shopping, a coffee at Zeffirellis, maybe book a cinema ticket for later in the day. Then head up to the main road, turn left (opposite Fred Holdsworth’s bookshop) and walk along as far as a mini roundabout, where you turn right, and soon sharp left onto Nook Lane. Follow this through the yard at Nook End Farm, over historic Low Sweden Bridge, and then downhill with Scandale Beck on your left until you reach a bigger track. Turn right here, and head along towards Rydal Hall. (The field on your left is the venue for the annual Ambleside Sports, held on the last Thursday of July each year.) In the grounds of Rydal Hall, take a small detour into a quiet garden, and round underneath a bridge to the wonderful surprise view at the Grotto. (No explanation: that would spoil the surprise!). Then through the exit, down to the main road, and you’ll be directly opposite Rydal Lodge. 4 miles, easy.
Rydal water
  • Around Rydal Water. Another relatively easy four mile walk, but almost all off-road this time, apart from having to cross the A591. And that’s how you set off, from our door, across the road and up the hill towards Rydal Mount. This was the long-time home of the poet William Wordsworth, and the house and grounds are well worth visiting. Go behind the house, and take the signposted track on the left known as the Coffin Trail (because along here coffins were once carried for burial in Grasmere).  This path follows the lower slopes of Nab Scar, with lovely views of Rydal Water and Heron Island down to your left. Take the first available (steep) track on your left which brings you down to the A591; cross here carefully, and head for the interesting footbridge and a path through the woods. As you leave the trees, take the upper path and follow it round to the left; this is the track known as Loughrigg Terrace, after the fell above you. Down below are more lovely views of Rydal Water. Eventually you will reach one of our seven wonders, the magnificent Rydal Cave which you must go inside; after the entrance stepping stones, it’s all easy going. Back in the daylight, take the rocky path downhill and through the woods to Dipper Bridge, but don’t go all the way to the main road (unless you fancy a pint in the Badger Bar); the secret gate into our garden is here on your right.
Secret gate
  • To Grasmere and back. Here’s a longer walk which starts from our secret garden gate, and heads up to the Terrace and Rydal Cave. But this time, when you reach the end of Rydal Water, continue heading west to the weir that marks the beginning of the next lake, Grasmere. If it’s a fine day, there will be plenty of people paddling and picnicking here at Penny Rock. Follow the lake shore path until it winds steeply uphill to meet the road below Red Bank. This leads down into Grasmere village (do stop off at the delightful Faeryland tea room, where you can take a rowing boat out on the lake).  There’s plenty to see and do in Grasmere, including the lovely Heaton Cooper Studio and art gallery, and another of our favourite bookshops, Sam Read. Then take the road past the church to the junction with the A591, cross over, and take the minor road that leads past Dove Cottage, another home of Wordsworth, and heads above White Moss Common to join the coffin trail route back to Rydal Mount. Where you’ll be glad to stop for a pot of tea on the garden cafe, before heading home to Rydal lodge.
Faeryland at Grasmere
  • Our favourite small mountain, Loughrigg. It may be low in stature, just over 1000ft, but this a sprawling mass of a fell, which many hidden valleys, small tarns, and surprise views. From here at Rydal Lodge, the shortest way to the summit is via our garden gate, over Dipper Bridge, towards Rydal Cave and then take the path behind the cave that heads upwards. Loughrigg is criss-crossed with many paths, but as long as you keep climbing UP, you’ll reach the summit cairn, an OS trig point column, and wonderful views. For variety on the way back, take the path that leads north-west from the summit and will bring you via some newly-built steps down to Loughrigg Terrace, for a scenic stroll back home. It’s a round trip of about 5 miles, but allow around three hours because of the climbing – and the need to stop and admire views.
  • The Fairfield Horseshoe. This is the giant of all the walks from our doorstep, a magnificent and famous circular route taking in eight mountain summits and offering the very best of Lakeland terrain. (Please do ask to take Gnigel, our gnome, with you. He’ll fit in your pocket, and he’s trying to tick off all the Wainwright fells.) Which is a good reminder to take along a copy of Wainwright’s Guide to the Eastern Fells along with a map, for entertainment and education as much as route finding. We recommend doing this route anti-clockwise, so that you’ll finish by descending Nab Scar very close to home. So cross the road, go through the Rydal Hall grounds and along by Rydal Park until a gap on the left takes you towards Low Sweden Bridge. But bear off left before the bridge is reached and follow this path first over Low Pike and then High Pike to the summit of Dove Crag. The route then takes you north west over Hart Crag on very steep and rock ground to the highest point of the walk, Fairfield, at 2860ft (873m). Please be aware that the top of Fairfield can be confusing in mist, so do have a compass with you. The main path leads south west to Great Rigg and then over Heron Pike to Nab Scar. The descent this way is easier terrain, until the final drop down to Rydal on seemingly-never-ending stone steps. Then it’s a short stroll down the lane to the main road and Rydal Lodge – though you deserve a tiny detour north to call at the Badger Bar for a pint. This is a serious undertaking, and although it’s only nine miles, it takes strong walkers around six hours to complete.

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