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A Round of Rydal Water

A circuit of Rydal Water via Loughrigg Terrace and the Coffin Route.

Distance 3 miles (4.8km)

Minimum time 1hr 30min

Ascent/gradient 460ft (140m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Stony paths and tracks

Landscape Rydal Water nesting in wooded vale below high fells

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer OL 7 The English Lakes (NE)

Start/finish SD 348066

Dog friendliness Generally suitable for dogs; grazing sheep, 2 road crossings

Parking National Trust parking (fee), White Moss Common

Public toilets Below road at White Moss Common

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1 From the higher car park, walk above the road, cross the road and descend the steps which lead across the common to gain the track by the river. If you start in the car park below the road, beyond the low barrier, take the track into the wood. Proceed to cross a footbridge (toilets above to the right at this point) and continue until the track nears the river. The two paths from both car parks lead to this point. Pass the bend in the river and continue along the track to bear left. Cross the footbridge over the river. Take the path straight on, through the woods away from the river. Ascend to a kissing gate leading to a stony track. At this point an alternative route bears left by the shoreline of Rydal Water.

2 Take the path above, which bears left to ascend through the bracken to a level path known as Loughrigg Terrace. Traverse left along the path to a fine viewpoint, overlooking the lake, and on to Nab Cottage and Nab Scar. Continue along the path to round the next shoulder and cross a level area of slate waste. Beyond this, find the entrance to Rydal Cave, an old slate quarry. Descend the track directly below this and pass through a larch wood before the track bears right to pass a further quarry hole and caves. Keep along the track, which rounds a little bend before becoming a walled lane that descends between Jobson Close, below, and the woods of Rough Intake, above. Intercept a track and cross it, bearing left slightly, to find a path down to Rydal Water.

3 Bear right to enter woods by a gate. The path leads through the wood and then, with the lake just over to the left, walk through the field to intercept the River Rothay. Cross by the bridge on to the A591. The Badger Bar stands opposite. Bear right along the road until a lane leads uphill to the left.

4 Cross the road and follow the lane up to Rydal church and Dora's Field, then steeper still to pass by Rydal Mount, the home of William Wordsworth. Immediately above Rydal Mount a track bears left. Pass through a gate and follow this track, the old Coffin Route which runs between Ambleside and Grasmere. Stony in places, the track is well defined, traversing through clumps of oaks with a view south over Rydal Water. As the track rounds a bend and intercepts a wall there is a square stone on the right. This is the coffin rest stone, where the bearers once placed their burden for a breather. There is a seat beyond this and then a gate leads through a wall and the track enters the woods above Nab Cottage.

5 Keep along the track and pass through a gate, to dip slightly, before making a short steep ascent. The wall above on the right at this point is an exposed part of the Thirlmere Aqueduct which runs all the way to Manchester. Round the shoulder and make a rocky descent to cross a stream. Keep on to a gate below a house above the track to the right. Through this gate a lane falls steeply down the hillside to the left. Take this lane through the wood to intercept the A591 just above the lower car park at White Moss Common.

This classic walk of breathtaking beauty will I'm sure, be forever associated with the poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850). From all around the world people come to this region of the Lake District to see the landscape that so inspired him. His poetry broke with the strict conventional structure and stylised imagery of his day, to explore the worlds of nature and human emotion in a new poetic language. He lived at Dove Cottage in Grasmere between 1799 and 1808 and at Rydal Mount from 1813 until his death in 1850.

Despite its popularity this outing can never fail to inspire. Each season is different. Whether the lake is clad in ice, or the blossoms of early spring are bursting forth, it is a landscape to soothe the aching soul and lift the spirit. This walk, with a little ascent and descent, visits wood, lake and river. Whilst humanity may never be far away, dippers can often be seen on the river, swans on the lake, ravens on Nab Scar, and roe deer in the woods. The village of Rydal forms a convenient half-way point.

While you're there

Rydal church, partly designed by William Wordsworth, is a building worthy of closer inspection. Behind the church is Dora's Field, with its stand of oaks and pines, and full of golden daffodils between late March and early April. This piece of steeply dipping hillside beneath Rydal Mount, was dedicated by William Wordsworth to his daughter, Dora, who died at an early age.

Where to eat and drink

The Badger Bar at Rydal offers bar meals and a pleasant beer garden, ideal for a hot summer's afternoon. An ice cream van, selling ice cream made in Kendal, often stands near the end of White Moss Common upper car park.

What to look for

Rydal Mount was the last home of William Wordsworth. Open to the public, the house, with its family portraits, furniture and some of the poet's personal possessions, is set in exquisite gardens, designed by Wordsworth himself. Rented from Lady Diana le Fleming who lived in Rydal Hall, it was home to William, his wife and family and sister Dorothy.

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