Rydal – Loughrigg Fell – Loughrigg Tarn – Rydal Water round
Rydal a very small hamlet is situated on a trade route between Ambleside and Grasmere in the Lake District of Cumbria. Rydal is an Old Norse word meaning “valley where rye was grown” and the trade route was a packhorse route until the late 18th century when it then became a turnpike road following the valley bottom. In the 16th and 17th centuries Rydal was a more scattered community of farms, cottages, a hall, three inns, fulling mill, corn mill, smithy and school. The village now a group of a few houses, a church, the Glen Rothay Hotel and Badger Bar, Rydal Hall, Rydal Mount and Cote How. Rydal which overlooks Rydal Water is surrounded by the wooded fells of Loughrigg Fell and Nab Scar. The Glen Rothay Hotel, a coaching inn dating back to 1624, is very environmentally friendly and lets nothing go to waste even the left over scraps of food are fed to the local badger population that roam around every night and this makes good viewing for residents, visitors, locals and photographers. Cote How organic guest house and tearoom is a 16th century historic home and is one of three “Soil Association Licensed” organic guest houses in the UK. Cote How has luxury accommodation with organic, locally sourced full English breakfasts to suit everyone including a full vegetarian and vegan hot menu. Rydal has changed very little over the last 150 years and has been home to many famous names. The village also hosts two events every year, the Vale of Rydal Sheepdog Trials and One Man and his Dog.
Rydal Hall, belonging to the Le Fleming family who have been traced back to 1126 and possibly linked with the 1066 Conquest, is the most impressive building in Rydal both visually and historically. They originally lived at Coniston Hall and came to Rydal in 1575 to the Old Hall which became a ruin in 1681. The New Hall set in a magnificent landscape was built in the 16thcentury by the first Sir Michael Le Fleming it was enlarged in the 17thcentury, altered and refaced in the 18thcentury, the main front door is early 19th century and is now a Grade II listed building. Rydal Hall has 30 rooms all en-suite with a choice of full board, half board or bed and breakfast. There is also a self catering holiday cottage, camp site and youth centre.
Rydal Mount, also dating back to the 16th century, was the home of the poet William Wordsworth for 37 years from 1813 until his death. He was born in Cockermouth in the north western area of the Lake District in 1770. After spending his childhood in Cockermouth he studied at the University of Cambridge, travelled Britain and Europe for 12 years and lived in Grasmere for 14years before settling down in Rydal for the rest of his years. Following his death the Wordsworth’s rented the Rydal Mount until his wife Mary died in 1859. Rydal Mount was later acquired by William’s great, great, great granddaughter Mary Henderson (nee Wordsworth) in 1969. The house and gardens opened to the public in 1970 and is a Grade 1 listed building. The church, The Chapel of St. Mary, was built in 1824 and Rash Field between the church and Rydal Mount, a National Trust area, was bought by Wordsworth and he renamed it Dora’s Field in memory of his daughter, Dora. Rydal Mount and Gardens is open daily from March to October 9.30am to 5pm and in the winter is open Wednesday to Sunday in November, December and February 11am to 4pm. There is a tearoom for refreshments.
Loughrigg Fell, an open access area, is easily accessible as it is surrounded by road with many entrances. The fell, with a summit of 335 metres, is also surrounded by water with the rivers of Rothay and Brathay and the lakes or tarns of Grasmere, Rydal Water, Loughrigg Tarn, Elterwater and just in the distance most of Windermere. The views of the Langdale Pikes, Fairfield horseshoe and the Coniston Fells are wonderful. Loughrigg Tarn is a small natural lake and was a favourite place of William Wordsworth because it likened to “Diana’s looking glass – round, clear and bright as heaven”.
Rydal Water is also a small lake at 1.18km long and varies in width up to 350 metres and is supplied and drained by the River Rothay. The northern end of the lake belongs to Rydal Hall Estate and the National Trust leases the southern half from the Lowther Estate. On the western side there are some steps that lead to Wordsworth’s seat which is said to be his favourite view point in the Lake District.
We park in Cote How car park at Rydal next to the River Rothay. We turn right out of the car park, walk on the road for a short way, go over the cattle grid and turn right and follow the tarmac track over another cattle grid with the River Rothay on our left. We head forward and cross over a third cattle grid and past some houses on the right and stepping stones on the left. When the river turns sharply to the left with a white house in front of us we take the footpath through the gate on the right. The path starts to go uphill alongside Fox Ghyll and after a short way we go through a gate on the left and go over the footbridge and follow the path still going uphill through the Rhododendrons. The path becomes very steep then as it levels out we head forward, going to the right of a stream, to the wall. We walk along the narrow path between the wall on the left and the slope of the fell on the right. At the end of the wall and a plantation on the left we turn left to pick up the track we can see just a short way in front of us. We turn right onto the track and follow the track going over a little stream and keeping to the left of the small pond. There are a few paths but just keep to the main track heading round the edge of Ivy Crag. As we go round the edge Skelwith Bridge is down below and we keep bearing to the right past a bench and head to the wall. We follow close to the wall on a level now and when the wall turns to the left we keep following it downhill. After a short way the track turns left again but we turn right through a gate with a yellow arrow. We head forwards through the field and go over a stile on the left of a gate then make our way to the fence line and the tarmac track on our left and go over a stile next to a tree. We cross straight over the tarmac track and walk across the field to Loughrigg Tarn and follow the path to the right on the edge of the tarn. At the end of the tarn we head to the right of a funny looking tree stump that leans to the left and go over the stile in the wall. We now turn right along the road towards Grasmere. We keep on the road following the signs for Grasmere passing through some buildings on either side of the road and soon the road starts to go steeply downhill. At the bottom of the hill we turn right next to a house into Deerbolts Wood and at the signpost we take the lower path on the left for Grasmere Lake not the right path for Loughrigg Terrace-Rydal. Grasmere Lake is on our left. We follow the path through the wood until we arrive at a weir and then at the footbridge we take the path on the right going uphill. We follow the track uphill and then downhill to Rydal Water, we can see in the distance. We walk on the shore edge and then take the left footpath, keeping to the shore edge, into the wood. We walk through the wood and cross over a bridge on the left into Rydal. We take a quick look round Rydal then make our way back to the bridge. We cross the bridge again and head forwards passing Cote How Tearooms on the left go up some steps and head uphill to the track where we turn left back to the car park.
This is a moderate to hard walk with steep inclines and declines.
Approx 5.5 miles using OS Explorer map OL7.
Rydal is on the edge of Rydal Water just north of Ambleside in the Lake District.
Take the A591 Windermere to Keswick road and Rydal is situated on the A591 1.5 miles north of Ambleside.
Toilets and Refreshments
There are no public toilets on this walk the nearest ones are in the car park at the western end of Rydal Water and at nearby Ambleside and Grasmere. For refreshments in Rydal there is The Glen Rothay Hotel with the Badger Bar and restaurant and Cote How Organic tearoom.