Located in the south of the lake district national park, Rydal Water is a small and charming lake with stunning views. Around the lake are several beautiful hiking routes, along with wild swim spots, woodland and caverns to explore. Smaller and quieter than its southern neighbour Windermere, there is a lot to see and do around this small lake.
Getting to Rydal Water
Public Transport To Rydal Water
The nearest connecting train station to Rydal is Windermere station. You can then connect with the 555 Bus to Keswick. You can also get a bus from Kendal which also has a train station. The lake district is reasonably well connected but the buses here are not as regular as town or city transport that you may be used to.
Driving And Parking To Rydal Water
Driving around the national parks in England and the United Kingdom is free, you don’t need to book or pay for a pass to get into the park; we are very lucky here. However somethings you should know about driving in the English Lake District.
We drive on the left (most people know this but just a gentle reminder).
The roads are narrow similar to that in Europe, country roads in particular may only allow for 2 small cars to tightly and carefully pass, others may require you to pull in to allow them to pass.
Parking charges vary greatly around the lakes. Get there early to find a spot (you may even find an odd free one if you are there early enough).
The nearest parking is by Pelter Bridge in the small gravel car park over the river (if you were driving from Ambleside). It’s Pay & Display, so ensure you have some change to hand.
You can also park at Rydal hall (but this is £10.00 for the day and cash only).
Alternatively there is sometimes one of the fields opened at weekends leading up to Rydal from ambleside as an overspill. You do still need to pay, but it’s usually £5.00 and goes straight to the local land owner. If you go for the latter keep an eye out for the stepping stones.
What is there to See and Do Around Rydal Water?
Enjoying The Water
There are quite a few points around the lake where there are benches to enjoy the views of the lake or set up a picnic. You could go in the water for a swim. Swimming is permitted in Rydal Water but this should be individual and not in large groups.
Boats, paddleboards and kayaks are not permitted to launch for the public unfortunately. However if you launch and dock from the river you can access Rydal. I believe this in part is to minimise some of the damage and erosion around the lakeshore.
Commercial activity is not permitted on this water unless explicit permission is given. If you are wanting to ask permission for commercial activity you should contact Rydal Estates – Carter Jonas who’s details can be found on the lake district website.
Best Walks and Hikes Around Rydal Water
The Rydal Circular Track
The rydal circular track is a great walk for everyone. If you aren’t used to hiking, or don’t have walking shoes/boots with you then this walk is the best option for you. Even if you are an avid hiker, this lovely walk around Rydal Water has great views all around. It can be accessed in a couple of places from either the village or near the rothay car park.
Rydal Caves Walk
Rydal cave is always a popular walk and not too strenious. On the north side of loughrigg fell (another fantastic walk), this man made cavern attracts walkers, photographers and those who enjoy abseiling.
To get to the cave, you will most likely come from the Rydal circular track and then you turn off up the hill following the well marked track. If you’d like to simply visit the cave and head back this can take about half an hour and is about 1.2km. If you do the full circular with the caves it is about 4.2km long and can be done in a couple of hours or less.
The cave has stepping stones that lead through the water and into the cave where you can walk around. Though the cave isn’t huge, it is a glimpse into the local geology and mining past.
Loghrigg fell is a great extension if you fancy a more extended route. I have done this a couple of times and it’s not too challenging. The last time I took the route and extended towards grasmere before circling back to make a full day of exploring. Though this walk isn’t particularly challenging for regular walker, I would advise having proper footwear (trail shoes or walking boots not trainers).
When you reach the summit of loughrigg fell you will get stunning views of the mountains, loughrigg tarn and Lake Windermere.
Walking From Rydal Hall
Rydal hall is a historic home that has stunning gardens. The restaurant and hotel are gorgeous and charming, if you get chance to stay here or have a meal here then do. It is very close to William Wordsworth home.
Rydal hall is a few minutes away from the lake by car or you can walk from the lake and shouldn’t take long. The lake itself can get quite busy in spring and summer so I like to explore a little further around.
This is where I sometimes end up parking (you do need to pay but it’s a flat rate and away from the busy carparks that are closer to the lake). Additionally there is a gorgeous trail that heads up into the fells behind Rydal Hall.
As you head up the trail you will find well marked paths that run along each side of the river and through ancient forest for gorgeous views over the area. I love this walk in Spring in particular when the bluebells are out (they are everywhere).
As you take the trail further up into the fells the trees will start to thin out. Along the river there are some spots where you can relax and stop to have food whilst listening to the small water falls.
Alternatively, you can go for a in the water The water isn’t deep but don’t underestimate our mild climate, the water is ice cold. Don’t go in alone and be prepared for the cold.
Visit The Family Home of William Wordsworth
Rydal Mount is a stunning country home where the romantic author William Wordsworth lived between 1813 and 1850. Placed close to Rydal water and a stones throw to some of the most icon places around the national park, it’s no surprised his literature lives on to inspire generation after generation. The cottage is quant and charming and everything you’d expect for an English country home.
To visit Rydal mount and the gardens it is just £5.00 and owned by the wordsworth family today.
Final Thoughts When Exploring Rydal Water
Rydal water gets busy in the summer so be sure to get there early or visit in the shoulder seasons. Although it is busy, it is much quieter than both windermere and consiton.
In autumn the colours around the lake and old woodlands are just stunning and will make for a photographers dream.
If you have any questions about visiting Rydal or the lake district, I’d be happy to answer your questions. Either comment below or reach out on social media.
Explore More Of The Lake District, England
• The Lake District Series – Lake Ullswater
• The Lake District Series – Ennerdale
• The Lake District Series – Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite
• High Ropes Tree Tops and Tarzan Swings at Go Ape Whinlatter, Cumbria
• Stott Park and High Dam Walk Near Lake Windermere
Rydal water is a lake with gorgeous views besides the lake. Visiting such a place with natural beauty in abundance would be so rejuvenating. I would love to take the Rydal circular track walk and Rydal caves walk and explore the gardens of Rydal Hall and stroll beside its quiet streams. And definitely would love to visit the iconic residence of legendary poet William Wordsworth. No wonder living in such a surrounding turned him into a great poetic genius.
Wow this is such a beautiful and cute lake and can visualize being there. Thanks for the complete feel of what to expect. Would love to do the Rydal caves Walk in a relaxed way. It appeals as you say it is not too strenuous. Would love to stay in the hotel in Rydal Homes and enjoy nature. Also visit William Wordsworth home Rydal Mount.
Beautiful pictures! I have been to the Lake District before, but not to Rydal Water. Hiking around the lake and up to the cave sounds quite nice actually. I visited the family home of William Wordsworth and was really impressed. I will put Rydal Water on the list for a future visit!
This reminds me of some hiking spots in the Philippines. The Circular Track and Rydal Cave walk reminds me of the animated movie ‘Croods’ for some reason. Perhaps it’s the picturesque view of the place that has a bit of a rugged adventure vibe.
Such a beautiful place! I did not know that the national parks in England and the United Kingdom are free. That is amazing! We here in the U.S. pay quite a lot of money to get in to the parks. That of course goes to the up keeping of the park but it limits who can afford to visit places like this. I think a visit to Rydal Cave would be on our list.
We are very fortunate here. I certainely don’t object to national parks charging though to help look after them. We instead have a charities called the national trust, british mountaineering council that help to manage land access, conservation and other things to keep this sustainably working.
I have seen some pictures of Lake District and always found it to be beautiful. This is the first article I have read however to an actual Lake of the place. Rydal Water does look inviting and I would love to take a walk around it plus visit the Cave. Very nice stories of your exploration there.
I am yet to travel to the Lake District. Hopefully I will make it there this summer as I’ve made a new friend who happens to live near Windermere. Rydal Water looks very picturesque, with plenty of things to do around. I would definitely like to hike around the lake, as that is one of my favourite activities in nature. I would also like to swim in the lake, on a sunny and warm day. I think it’s good that you can’t launch your own water sports equipment, this way the shores are protected better.
We visited Rydal Water a few years ago and loved it! The area is so beautiful to walk and hike around, and it’s so peaceful too. We did the caves walk and it was so rewarding once we finally arrived! I really hope to visit again, we missed seeing Wordsworth’s house.
That’s really some breathtaking scenery. I like the cave and the walk around the area. Visiting William Wordsworth’s home would be a pleasure. It just feels and looks like a heavenly region, so green and serene.