The Lake District Guide

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Accommodation Guide

Eating Out

Mountain Walks

Valley & Lakeside Walks
Ullswater walks
Langdale walks
Grasmere/Rydal walks
More Grasmere walks
Ambleside walks
Coniston walks
Windermere walks
Gummer's How
Gummer's How (2)
Hawkshead walks
Buttermere walks
Ennerdale walks
Wasdale walks
Derwentwater walks
Borrowdale walks
Keswick walks
Ullswater walks
More Ullswater Walks (1)
More Ullswater Walks (2)
Tarn Hows
Holme Fell
Staveley walks; Loweswater
Castlerigg Stone Circle

Things To Do, Places To Go

General Lake District Information

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Easy Lake District Valley and Low-level Walks

Walks around Grasmere & Rydal

Click here for more easy walks around Grasmere and Rydal

Easedale Tarn, Grasmere

Although Easedale Tarn is isolated in the fells above Grasmere, it is easy to reach from the village. It is a popular walk for beginner fell-walkers, with a real feel of being in the mountains. This route begins in Far Easedale, allowing you to enjoy the peace and quiet before climbing to Easedale Tarn and encountering the crowds who have ascended from Grasmere. However, in winter crossing Sourmilk Gill where it leaves Easedale Tarn is normally impossible, necessitating a circuit of the lake, in itself almost impractical due to the boggy ground and inlet streams around its shore. So, a walk best reserved for the spring, summer or autumn!

Distance and terrain: 7.5km (4.5 miles), including the 1.5km circuit of the tarn. Straightforward walking for the most part, a steep climb to Easedale Tarn and some rough ground during the descent.

Parking: Use the National Park car park in the village, just north of the shops on the B5287.

Walk along Easedale Road, away from the village centre. Pass the entrance to the Youth Hostel, and just after the Glenthorne Quaker Centre take the gate on the left onto the permissive path which takes you off the road. You rejoin the road at Goody Bridge and just past the farm, the road swings right. The footbridge in the trees on your left is going to be on the return route, so don't be tempted by the sign to Easedale Tarn. Continue along the road, past the gateway to Lancrigg Hotel, and the road takes you across a field, with the sharp pinnacle of Helm Crag directly ahead of you.

Once past a small cluster of houses (including the engagingly named Little Parrock), you come to a fork. Go right (signed Far Easedale and Helm Crag), onto a rough track which leads up to a metal farm gate. Go through the farm gate (ignoring the sign on your right, which lures you off to the Wordsworth memorial and the hikers' tea barn) and then bear left to another fork in the path. Go left, signed Far Easedale and Borrowdale. The path takes you between some fine examples of dry stone walls and across a number of fields. It is an easy route to follow. One intriguing point - who thought to plant a monkey-puzzle tree out here in the middle of nowhere? (It is by the field entrance, just before you reach two stone barns on your right.)

This path feels very isolated. When you reach the stone barns, you can glance across the valley to see the swarm of dots heading up the more direct route to Easedale tarn.

A few minutes after the barns, you reach Far Easedale Gill, which is a pleasant, bubbling companion as you follow it upstream. The path brings you to a long wooden, footbridge. Cross over and you can see the footpath to Borrowdale winding across the fell ahead of you, disappearing into the head of the valley. 40m from the bridge, the path forks. Go left and climb steeply past a split boulder and a footpath marker.

The path climbs to the top of the field on your left, then, at another pair of marker posts, it veers off to the right. Keep climbing and after ten minutes or so you come to Sourmilk Gill and another view of the main path to the tarn. Keeping to your side of the gill follow the path around the boggy bits. Dogs are very useful here as they tend to rush ahead and you can tell by the various splashing noises which routes to avoid.

This boggy section gets horribly wet in winter and there are occasional lines of stepping stones. Not enough, however, so don't hesitate to abandon the path and climb to firmer ground when you need to. The path is running roughly parallel to the river, although it is out of view most of the time, concealed by the bracken. The path finally approaches the gill and then suddenly you arrive at Easedale Tarn.

The tarn is very pretty, with impressive crags on three sides: from the left, these are Blea Crag, Slapestone Edge, Tarn Crag and Greathead Crag. There is usually a seagull perched on the rock in the centre of the tarn. You could cross the beck and head straight downhill but if it is relatively dry underfoot, it is worth circling the tarn. Heading anticlockwise around the tarn, the perspective changes dramatically. As you reach the far side, the path climbs to avoid boggy sections and you should work your way up to a major footpath which continues out of Easedale and on to Stickle Tarn and the Langdales. Once you hit the path, turn left and follow the route back to Sourmilk Gill. The entire circuit takes about half an hour.

As you reach the Gill, the path forks. Go right or you could end up circling the tarn forever. After walking downhill for 20m you have a tremendous view of Helm Crag and Grasmere, with Fairfield on the far side of the valley. The route downhill is fairly straightforward, though rough underfoot in places. After fifteen minutes or so you come to the first of the cascades in Sourmilk Gill. The rock pools just below are great for a paddle on a hot summer day.

The path drops down to a stone wall, through a kissing gate and joins a farm track across the fields. Keep to the track, through an ornate metal farm gate and across another field. At the far side, over a concrete bridge, there are two farm gates. Go through the left gate and back alongside Easedale Beck. The path leads into the woods, takes you across a footbridge and you are back at Easedale Road by the Lancrigg Hotel. Go right and seek out one of the tea shops in the village.

Rydal Caves and Rydal Park

4 miles [6.5 km]

This walk gives the best views over Rydal Water and takes you to the man-made caves of Loughrigg Quarry. Wordsworth enthusiasts can visit Rydal Mount, the home of the poet for thirty-seven years. The walk has the merit that, with luck, one can arrive back with reasonably dry footwear.

Park the car on one of the Ambleside car parks. Walk on along main road towards Grasmere and Keswick. The curious Bridge House is passed. Its origin is something of a mystery but one theory is that it was built by someone to avoid paying land rent. Cross over to right hand side of road. When the pavement ends at a drive entrance cross the road again with great care. After half a mile the cricket field is on the left, and after this there is a wood above the road level. At the end of this wood there is a gate into a field. Go through the gate.

There is no apparent path in the field, but slightly to right of front, beyond a slight knoll, is a group of trees. Head for the right of these. There is only a right of way across the field. Continue past the trees on the same line and the river will be reached and the stepping stones. Cross these with care to join road at the other side. Turn right. Go through the gate by the cattle grid and continue along the road to another gate and cattle grid. Turn left down the lane through another. Follow this lane until an iron gate is reached which leads onto fell land and distinct tracks. Take the upper track, and at the seat there is a perfect view over Rydal Water. The crags across the lake are Nab Scar. The cottage at the foot was the home of Hartley Coleridge, son of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and friend of the Wordsworths.

Follow the track up, through woodland. After a bend right a conical crag will be seen and Loughrigg Quarry has been reached. If you go to the left of this crag the smallest cave will be seen across a gully. Go back onto the track and continue up, zig-zagging left then right through some attractive larch trees. The big cave can then be seen and entered.

The platform of waste opposite the cave entrance is a natural rock garden. Although there is little soil here, if the land was not grazed by sheep it would soon be colonised by the larches, silver birch and ash trees which can all take root in the quarry waste. Where sheep cannot reach seeds will germinate.

Follow the track back to the view-point scat, then descend towards lake and a kissing-gate will be seen in the wall on the right. Go through this into the wood. Follow it to a footbridge. This brings us onto the main road again. Cross it. Turn right towards Ambleside but go left up the nearby access road. Rydal Chapel is on the left. Wordsworth helped to choose the site where it was built and worshipped here regularly. If it is daffodil season then go through the chapel yard to Dora's Field beyond, to see a golden carpet.

Go on up the road. Some old cottages can be seen on the left. Just above them is Rydal Mount which is now open to the public. Our way from here is on the right. Just above the entrance drive to Rydal Hall, which is a conference centre and not open to the public, there is another entrance onto a lane. Follow this through the yards of the buildings, turning right at the end after crossing the bridge, then bearing left at the Y junction.

This is Rydal Park. It is the private park of Rydal Hall and there is no access off the lane but we can enjoy the walk along this pleasant lane none the less. There are some fine trees and the well cared-for fields can be an unbelievably bright green. They are the scene of the well known Rydal Sheep Dog Trials.

The main road is joined again through some tall iron gates. Cross the road to the pavement on the far side. Continue left to Ambleside, about a third of a mile.

Grasmere and Loughrigg Terrace
3.5 miles [5.5 km]

Grasmere is Wordsworth country. This walk is a classic walk of the Lake District. No lover of Wordsworth can miss it. Every lover of the Lake District must do it at least once. But it is very popular. Allow two and a half hours for the walk - but much longer if you want to lounge with a view across the lake, or linger at Grasmere church, Dove Cottage or the Wordsworth Museum.

The walk starts at Whitemoss Common. This is a mile south of Grasmere on the Ambleside road. From Ambleside it is about 2.5 miles along the Keswick road. Park in the car park on the common. Walk down to the river Rothay and then walk upstream to the footbridge. Cross it and go directly upwards into the wood. The track is soon well-defined. At the fork keep upwards, and at the end of the wood go through the kissing-gate. Beyond is a track onto open fell. Turn right onto it and climb a steep zigzag. The seat near the top offers an excellent view back over Rydal Water. The fell here is owned by the National Trust and there is free public access. But your walk continues over the brow of the hill. There is a glimpse of the foot of Grasmere Lake, and there is a view over the river to Pennyrock wood.

There is a quarry waste heap from an old quarry to the left of the track as you proceed. If the slate is searched, a piece can usually be found with a pattern of ripples. Cut and polished, this type of slate is very decorative. Strike the slates together and they sound almost metallic with hardness. These two qualities have helped to make the Lake District slate highly valued all over the world.

As you walk further round along the track a fuller view of the lake is opened up with a rough-cragged summit of Helm Crag behind. The shape of the 'Lion and the Lamb' is not too obvious from this point.

The best view of the lake is at the seat just before the track is broken away by a beck. Close beyond this beck a faint track can be seen descending to the lake shore. Descend this slowly. A bog near the bottom can be avoided by turning left just before the hawthorn tree, to follow another small beck down. The lake shore is another place to linger before turning left along it to a wall and a kissing-gate leading into Deerbolts Wood. Turn down to lake shore again and continue on. You soon leave the wood by a stile. There is now a permissive footpath continuing by the lake shore shingle. The fields are farmed and are not open to the general public so you should keep to the path. Delightful views over the lake and its island open up. The fell on the right, at the head of the lake and most dominant, is Seat Sandal (2,365 ft). The path continues over stiles when it ends path turns sharp left to the road above through a stile.

Join the road and turn down right. Watch for traffic and keep well in. Walk right down to the village. At the first junction on the approach, turn right, and go past the nursery to join the T junction. Turn right to St Oswald's Church. Enter the churchyard by the second gate. The Church, the oldest part of which dates back to the 13th century, is worth a visit. Its alterations over the years make it an architectural curiosity, but of course it is famous for its Wordsworth associations. The floor of the church until the 19th century was earthen, and was strewn with rushes. The rush-bearing ceremony is still followed by the local children on the Sunday nearest to St Oswald's day (5th August).

The graveyard is on the eastern side of the church. William Wordsworth and his wife Mary are buried under a simple stone near the river side. Dora Quillinan, their daughter, is buried in the next grave. North of these can be found the grave of Hartley Coleridge, the eldest son of Samual Taylor Coleridge, the great poet who was Wordsworth's friend of earlier days. Hartley, himself a writer, lived at Nab Cottage overlooking Rydal Water.

Leaving the church, cross the bridge, and continue on. The field on the left is the scene of the well-known Grasmere Sports. At the main road junction cross and go up the lane directly opposite. Dove Cottage will shortly be seen, standing back a little on the left shortly after the first buildings. It was the home of Wordsworth in his most inspired years between 1799 and 1808. Afterwards, for twenty years, it was the home of Thomas De Quincey. The house is open to the public on weekdays. The Wordsworth museum is opposite, down the little lane.

Continue up the road until a duck pond is reached. Turn right along the road just after this. As this road is ascended another view of Grasmere opens up on the right. At the top of the road the woodland is left, and the road is on open fell with a view down to Rydal Water. A better view can be obtained from the grass bank to the left, but the lake is in view all the way down to the road to Whitemoss Common, and our starting point.

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