A Walk round Rydal Water

Contributed by Sue Dixon, White Moss House.


This walk round the lovely lake of Rydal Water, in England's Lake District, takes most people about 2 hours. It takes in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world- part of what is often called the "Wordsworth Walk" in England's Lake District.

Hiking is my hobby, and this walk around Rydal Water lake is my favourite walk- I do it at least once a week. This hike is different every time- the weather, the seasons, the light, the wildlife- all constantly change the experience.

This photo above was taken in November- it looks very different in summer, as the picture (right) shows.

The walk begins at White Moss House

This Lake District walk is beautiful at any time of year. As the hike takes less than two hours, it can't really be described as "backpacking" though a good backpack with water, a snack rainwear and a torch is advisable on any hike.

Rydal Water circular walk is a short, low level walk, and it makes an excellent winter holiday walk. You see all of beautiful Rydal Water lake.

You walk along the famous "coffin road", pass Rydal Mount, where Wordsworth lived when he was rich and famous ( you can visit inside the house and gardens).

You can visit the formal gardens at Rydal Hall, and have a great home made lunch or tea in the Old School Tea Rooms. You can stop off at the Badger Bar for a local ale and a pub meal. You can see the famous Rydal Caves If it's warm , you can swim in the lake, or have a picnic. If you are visiting the Lake District at Christmas this makes a perfect short winter walk. If you are visitng the Lake District, take this with you - say hello if you see me!

( all photos are my own)

Start your Rydal Water walk at White Moss.  White Moss is the best starting point for this walk.

If you are staying at our B & B White Moss House, you can leave your car in our cark park and set off from the front porch.( sit on the bench in the picture outside White Moss House to put your boots on!)

Otherwise, park at White Moss Car park, on the A591.

Alternatively you can take a bus, number 555, and ask the driver to drop you at White Moss. Click here for your bus timetable.

Head uphill away from the main road by the side of the postbox. 

The start of the Rydal Water walk is steep- it's good for you!

Look for the post box on the main road, on the same side as White Moss House. Keep the post box on your left, and head up the hill, passing the coach house on your right.

White Moss post box on the A591 at White Moss Common.

White Moss Waterfall will be on your left. Don't go too near. Keep to the right, up the hill.

After about 5 minutes, go through a gate, and carry on up until your reach a path running left to right. There will be a cottage above you. This is our self catering cottage , Brockstone (brock is an old word for badger)

The Rydal Walk now follows the "Coffin Road" 

Turn right on the coffin road and head to Rydal Village.

Turn right in front of Brockstone Cottage
You are welcome to use this photo of Brockstone Cottage from whitemoss at flickr creative commons

This path is the old "coffin route" Lots of Lake District villages ( and also some in other parts of the country such as Cornwall) have "coffin routes"  These are the paths used to carry coffins from villages that didn't have a church to the nearest church.  From Rydal, coffins were carried to St Oswald;s Church, Grasmere.

A local historian told me that the bodies were wrapped in a local Kendal wool shroud, not a wooden coffin. This was enforced in a bylaw, to help the Kendal wool trade! Along the path there are large "coffin stones" to rest the body on. Some of these are still there.

The views from this path are spectacular- over Rydal Water, to Loughrigg, Wansfell, Nab Scar and Silver Howe- beautiful Lake District hills, known locally as "fells"

Once you reach Rydal Village, pause and enjoy it.

First stop Rydal Mount  Take the chance on your walk to visit Wordsworth's home, Rydal Mount

Picture of Rydal Mount thanks to flickr creative commons

There are no shops, but there are many interesting things to see- plus refreshments!

You first come to Rydal Mount, the home of William Wordsworth from 1837 to his death in 1870.

Visit the house, see the beautiful gardens, and maybe visit the tearoom. Its a wonderful stop on your walk round Rydal Water.

Next Stop Rydal Hall.  Visit the historic Rydal Hall, its gardens and its Tearoom

Across the way is Rydal Hall, built by the wealthy local landowners, the Le Fleming family in the 19th century. The hall was sold to the Diocese of Carlisle in the 1950s, and is now used for a multitude of events, retreats , conference and camping. You can even stay in a yurt! The Gardens at Rydal Hall have been lovingly restored over the last 10 years, and you are welcome to visit and look around them.There is no charge, though donations are requested.

If you feel the need for a home made bowl of soup, great sandwiches and superb home made cakes, then call in at the Old School House, Rydal Hall tearooms.

Rydal Village has its own Church, St Mary's  There was no church in Rydal when Wordsworth arrived to live there. That's why the "coffin Road" was needed. William Wordsworth was one of the people who helped raise money to build St Mary's Rydal, and he was later a churchwarden. This is a lovely small church. The garden was redeveloped and replanted by the people of Rydal Village to commemorate the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002.

Enter the churchyard through the gate on the right of the road, walk round the church and out through the gate to Dora's Field.

William Wordsworth planned to build a house for his daughter, Dora, here, but it was never built. Today in spring, it is a mass of the lttle wild daffodils that Wordsworth loved.

Rydal Village has its own pub, the Badger Bar.  At the bottom of Rydal Hill, or Dora's field, turn right and you will see the Badger Bar. Lucky enough to be walking on a hot day? Have a pint and a bar meal in the garden. Cold, or wet? Pop in and warm up by the log fire in this 17th century pub. Call in for a pint of local beer.

From Rydal Village to Rydal lake shore 

Cross the road at the Badger Bar, go through the hole in the wall, and cross the River Rothay on the footbridge. Turn right to Rydal Water, and just keep walking through Rydal woods and then along the lake shore by Rydal Water. There are lots of places to picnic- or even to swim (be warned- the water is very cold, even in summer).

Alternative route from Rydal Village taking in Rydal Caves 

Cross the road opposite the Badger Bar, and go through the hole in the wall, over the bridge, turn right , through the field and through Rydal woods. At the end of the wood, you can take the left path, up the hill, which will bring you to Rydal Caves. The National Trust has put a barrier up with a safety warning- most people ignore this (don't say I told you- its all about Health and Safety!)

Looking out from Rydal cave. Photos thanks to twak and flickr creative commons 

Looking into Rydal Cave
Photo thanks to
foshie and flickr creative commons 

After the cave, walk along the path, forking gently right, until you come to the wall with the kissing gate in it.

Back through White Moss Woods to the start of your walk 

At the end of the walk along the lake shore, the path pulls away from the lake and goes uphill. Look for a kissing gate in the wall on your right, and go back down through White Moss woods to the start of your Rydal Water walk.

White Moss