Things to do in Rydal

It’s easy to go straight past the unassuming and tiny village of Rydal on your way to the ‘bright lights’ of Grasmere or Ambleside as you drive the A591, but it’s definitely worth a stop.

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Let’s take a little look at what Rydal has to offer…

On the surface, it’s just a handful of houses, a hotel and a church, but it’s a place with an illustrious literary and artistic history, with residents and visitors including William Wordsworth, Hartley Coleridge, Matthew Arnold, JMW Turner, John Constable and former US President Woodrow Wilson, to name but a few.

There are also historic houses, mystical caves, and roaring waterfalls to keep you occupied.

Visit Wordsworth’s last home at Rydal Mount

Although William Wordsworth is most often associated with Dove Cottage in Grasmere, it was 16th-century Rydal Mount that he loved most – and he lived there from 1813 until his death in 1850.

Rydal Mount Website >

015394 33002


Still owned by the Wordsworth family

It’s still owned by the Wordsworth family today, and Wordsworthians from all over the world have visited over the years to follow in the poet’s Lake District footsteps.

And, it was also from Rydal Mount that he put the finishing touches to his most famous poem – ‘Daffodils’ in 1815.

Inside the house

Inside the house, which still looks much like it would have done when Wordsworth was living there, you’ll find many of Wordsworth’s possessions and first editions of his work.

Don’t forget to take in the gorgeous views of Rydal Water and Windermere from the windows on the upper floors too.

Gardens and Tearoom

The green-fingered poet was also responsible for designing the five-acre garden that surrounds the house. Featuring fell-side terraces, herbaceous borders, rock pools, trees planted by Wordsworth himself, a summer house and an ancient mound, it has been kept very much how it was when William was tramping around in his boots and gardening gloves.

And, if you’re in need of refreshment and some homemade cake after all that wandering around, there is a tearoom in what was the old saddlery above the coach house.

Enjoy the daoffodills in Dora’s Field

Wordsworth bought a patch of land, originally called Rash Field, when he was threatened with eviction from Rydal Mount by his landlady.

His crafty intention was to build a house on it and block the lovely view of Rydal Water – happily, his landlady relented and allowed the Wordsworth family to carry on living there and the house was never built. 

But, and here comes the sad bit, when William’s beloved, talented (she wrote travel journals) and devoted daughter, Dora, died of tuberculosis, William and his wife were utterly heartbroken. So, as a memorial to Dora, he planted the field with hundreds of daffodils.

Now owned by the National Trust, Dora’s Field as it is now known, is still a sunny blanket of yellow every spring.

Find peace at St Mary’s Church

Built in the Gothic Revival style in1824 by Lady Le Fleming of Rydal Hall on a spot Wordsworth helped her choose, and designed by Kendal architect, George Webster, St Mary’s Church stands on a rocky fellside, which means you’ll find no graveyard there.

Wordsworth worshipped at the church (and was later the church warden for a decade), as did the poet Matthew Arnold’s family, who lived nearby. Inside you’ll find memorials and plaques to people with local connections, as well as four stained glass windows, including one which commemorates two of Dora Wordsworth’s step-daughters. 

Look out for Wordsworth’s small memorial plaque on the wall.

Beer and badgers at the Glen Rothay Hotel

Supping locally brewed ale and spotting badgers sounds like a good way to spend an evening to us.

And the food at the Badger Bar’s pretty darn decent too.

Badger Bar Website >

015394 34500


400-year-old country pub

Part of the Glen Rothay Hotel, you’re going to love this cosy, traditional and friendly 400-year-old country pub with its wonky floors, wonky walls and toilets built into the rock face. But let’s talk about the badgers first.

Resident Badgers

As night falls the resident colony of badgers venture out into the grounds to feed – keep quiet and you can usually get quite close to them. Check out the live ‘Badgercam’ at dusk and you might spot them sniffing around, but you’re better off getting yourself to Rydal and seeing them in person – and enjoying some of that good food we mentioned earlier.

Pub Grub

The ‘nothing fancy’ menu is made up of classic, freshly cooked, delicious pub grub, including fish & chips, burgers and steaks, curries, Cumberland sausage, and proper home-made pies. Veggies and vegans won’t go hungry either.

And, the Sunday roast is worth writing home about.

Spend some time at Rydal Hall

While you can’t go inside Rydal Hall unless you’re staying there, you can wander around the 30 acres of magnificent grounds, woodland, and Thomas Mawson-designed formal gardens for free.

You can also visit The Grot – a Victorian viewing station designed to take in the splendour of Rydal Falls, and discover the unique statues dotted around and about the woods.

Rydal Hall Website >

015394 32050


The gardens

While you can’t go inside Rydal Hall unless you’re staying there, you can wander around the 30 acres of magnificent grounds, woodland, and Thomas Mawson-designed formal gardens for free.

You can also visit The Grot – a Victorian viewing station designed to take in the splendour of Rydal Falls, and discover the unique statues dotted around and about the woods.

The grounds

Weave your way through the woodland behind the hall on the sculpture path, which starts at the Old Schoolhouse Tearoom, and discover interesting sculptures in wood, stone, metal ceramic and textiles.

Then, on the other side of the house, visit the secluded and peaceful Quiet Garden with its ponds, informal planting, and pathways leading to Rydal Beck. 

Keep your eyes peeled for red squirrel spotting too.

The Grot

Make your way from the Quiet Garden to the waterfalls and take your seat in The Grot, a small, 17th-century viewing station (and one of the first of its kind to be built in England) especially constructed for tourists to take in the spectacular view.

Rydal Cave

Located above Rydal Water on the northern side of Loughrigg Fell, you can find Rydal Cave. It’s actually formed from the result of mining rather than being a natural cave but is no less interesting for that.

The large, mystical cavern is often filled with water at the entrance (it doesn’t get too deep and you can usually spot some small fish) but a stepping stone path means your feet can stay dry as you explore the rock formations inside the cavern.

The View

More interesting we think, is the view back out towards the large cave opening – the silhouetted edges look like a row of jagged teeth.

There are some spectacular views from the nearby hillside too.

Nab Cottage

Look out for Nab Cottage on the shore of Rydal Water, once the home of writer and laudanum lover, Thomas de Quincy, and later, Hartley Coleridge, son of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

How to get there?

To get to the cave, park at the White Moss car park and wander through the woods up to the track above Rydal water that leads to the cave entrance.

Along the way, there’s a small collection caves to the left before the final climb, the summit, and Rydal Cave proper.

A walk round Rydal Water

Wordsworth liked to picnic on the shore of Rydal Water and lyrical inspiration often struck while he was munching on his lunch and gazing at the views of Loughrigg Fell and Nab Scar.

You might feel equally poetic as you take a gentle stroll round this picturesque lake. It’s only a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide so it doesn’t take long to get round – about an hour and a half. It’s a popular walk so you there’s no danger of you going wrong as you wend your way round the shoreline.

You can also extend the walk by taking a detour up to Loughrigg Terrace and having a mooch around Rydal Cave.

Escape the bustle to a Cottage in Rydal

For a sleepy cluster of houses between Ambleside and Grasmere, Rydal has a lot to offer, from lakes, to caves, right on its doorstep.

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Discover the authentic charm of less-visited villages and trails, providing a true sense of the region’s culture and history.

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