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More easy walks around Grasmere & Rydal

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The Rydal Round
3.5 miles [5.5 km]

William Wordsworth was a resident of Rydal for 37 years. He must have spent much of his later years just looking at Rydal Water. It is a gem best viewed in the quiet solitude of the breaking dawn.

The walk described must have been done by Wordsworth hundreds of times. It goes along the lake shore, by the old track below Nab Scar, and passes Rydal Mount, his home. The walk starts at White Moss Common. This is about two miles from Ambleside towards Grasmere on the Keswick road, the A591. Shortly after passing alongside the shore of Rydal Water, which is on the left, there are reedbeds, then very shortly afterwards the open area of White Moss Common comes into view. The main car park is on the left. From Grasmere towards Ambleside, White Moss Common is reached after one and a half miles. When the shore of Grasmere is left, the road swings sharply through woodlands to the left. Where the wood ends the common begins. Look for the main car park on the right.

On leaving the car walk towards Ambleside, and before reaching the bridge, turn left up the stony track. As this climbs it becomes a green track, and at the top joins a well-defined track at a T junction. There is a little pool to the left of this point. Wordsworth used to swim here. A walk up the hillside to the left offers some pleasant views.

At this T junction turn right. The track, changing to a footpath, is clear all the way, between walls. After a while there are open fields to the right, then open woodland containing trees which must have been old when Wordsworth walked this way. The track ends at Hart Head, the top of the hamlet of Rydal. Rydal Mount, Wordsworth's home until his death in 1850, is seen below on the right.

Turn right and descend. The entrance to Rydal Mount will be seen, right. Descend down the hard road. The entrance to Rydal Hall will then be seen on the left. This was the seat of the Le Flemings, one of the Lake District's largest landowners at one time. Rydal Hall is now a conference centre, and not open to the public.

Continue down, past the church. If the daffodils are in bloom, go through the churchyard, and into the little wood beyond-Dora's Field. The flowers here were planted for his daughter, Dora, by Wordsworth. The site of the church was also chosen by the bard. He occupied a front pew, but voiced his dissatisfaction at some of the interior detail which was unrectified for a long time. Continue down to the main road. Cross the road and turn right. In a short distance, looking left you will see a footbridge. Cross this to the far side into the wood, and turn right. The path wanders through a wood, with the river Rothay coming out of Rydal Water, on the right. It ends at a kissing-gate, and the lake is in front.

Follow the path which goes along the lake shore. Continuing on the lake shore path, a wall is reached and you must leave the lake, go through the gateway and follow the track on. After about half a mile there is woodland over the wall on the right, and the path climbs steeply ahead. Look for a kissing-gate through the wall on the right. However, before going through it, if your energy is up to it, a climb to the brow of the hill ahead gives a grand view back across Rydal Water. There is a seat on this high point.

Go through the kissing-gate and descend through the wood. Ignore path right (not a right of way) but continue down. The path at the bottom goes through a wettish section, and soon there is a footbridge. Cross it and you are on the lower portion of White Moss Common. Follow the path round right to the car parks.

Grasmere to Allcock Tarn
3 miles [5 km]

A popular walk from Grasmere is to Allcock Tarn. At over 1,000 feet above sea level, Allcock Tarn can be reached with care by the ordinary walker not equipped for the high fells, provided that there is no mist and no ice and snow. It is, however, a testing climb and it is not a good idea to attempt it on the first day of a holiday. The not-so young should take a great deal of time over the ascent. The beauty of the walk is really in the descent.

Park your car in Grasmere village. Broadgate Meadow car park is the best position. It is the first car park one sees on approaching the village centre from Keswick; it is through the village centre, and just on the way out towards Keswick, from the Ambleside side. Leave the car park and turn towards Keswick. Before joining the Ambleside to Keswick road, the road from the village forks. Take the right fork which joins the road opposite the Swan Hotel. Cross the road and go up the road to the right of the Swan. Bend left with this road and ignore the junction right. Shortly after this junction a narrow lane will be seen on the right going up between stone walls.

At first glance it could be mistaken for a private drive but although it is surfaced it has no gate. The lane goes up alongside a tumbling beck in a gully pleasantly green with mosses and ferns.
There is a gate at the top. Go through this, and immediately turn right over the footbridge. Follow the footpath, which goes up with the ghyll on the left and the wall on the right. The path turns right to follow the wall and an ascent is made of some neat stone steps. Path eventually turns left still following the wall but after following it round to a gateway, it-leaves the wall and ascends by a grassy path. The stone bridge that you can see below houses the Manchester water pipeline from ThirImere. After a few minutes, look back. The nearest fell across the valley is Helm Crag. On the craggy summit, on the left, you might make out the shape of the Lion and the Lamb.

The path runs upwards, still between the ghyll left, and the wall out on the right. The ghyll is Greenhead Ghyll, and the valley is the scene of Wordsworth's 'Michael'. The way is steep and you are advised to take the path steadily. When the wall bends off farther to the right, take the branch path to the right to follow the wall direction. This is important. Allcock Tarn is above and to the right. The path that ascends all the way with the ghyll goes on to the Fairfield ridge - over two miles off course and 1,500 feet higher. You presently leave the wall with a slight turn left to ascend stone steps, but still leaving the ghyll at an angle and still climbing. The path then zig-zags, and in places divides as panting walkers have tried variations, but it re-joins further on. The important thing is to keep on climbing. There are occasional rock steps, and the path turns between crags. The path eventually levels out a little. A wall can again be seen in front running parallel with the path, which bears left a little on grass. This point, if you look towards Helm Crag, looks level with that crag's summit. You are in fact only a little lower. To its left you can see up Easedale. The waterfall is Sourmilk Ghyll.

As the path levels, the beck from Allcock Tarn falls to its left. The wall is again near to the path at the other side of an outcrop, and there is a cairn at the path side. Round the outcrop an iron gate will be seen in a wall ahead and a National Trust sign. Keep to right to avoid a bog. Go through the iron wicket gate and you are at the tarn. Continue on the path to the right of the tarn. At the far end just above the dam there are some fine views. Ahead Windermere can be seen and, if conditions are clear, right beyond to Morecambe Bay. The mountains from left to right are the Coniston Old Man range, with Wetherlam on its right; Pike o'Blisco and the nobbly summits of Crinkle Crags; Bowfell; The Langdale Pikes; High Raise; Ullscarf. Nearer and to the right of Helm is Steel Fell. The Helvellyn range is to the right of this.

The main path continues past the dam to an iron gate but your path branches right off it to a wall gap with iron bar across it. Climb over this iron hurdle with care. At the other side bear left a little round a crag and then bear right, and go between crags. There is an eagle's-eye view of Grasmere village. A grass track descends towards the village but there is a branch, left, to a crag viewpoint which is worth taking. This commands the best view of the village and Grasmere Lake with its attractive island. From the crag the path goes off right then zig-zags left, and meanders pleasantly on grass. In places the path is built up on terraces and there are fine views across Grasmere. It crosses a small bridge over a waterfall, follows the beck down, and enters among some weather-beaten larches. Eventually you reach an iron wicket gate which bears the notice 'Brackenfell'. The terraced path eventually reaches a point near a yew tree. Ignore gate in wall but continue on our pleasant grassy zig-zags. Looking right from about here over Dunmail Raise, if conditions are clear, there will be a view of Skiddaw to the north of Keswick.

The path passes a little fish pond overhung by larch trees, takes a dive under a spruce tree, presently turns left, and there is a little crag on the right which gives another good view over Grasmere. You then go through an iron gate and into a wood and between a fence and a wall. Go through the wooden gate, into the open and along a hard track. When this joins the macadam lane by an iron seat, turn right and descend, to cut the corner, by the narrow path. The lane is joined to the right of the duck pond. Turn right . At the foot of this hill, behind the two yew trees on the right is Dove Cottage, the home of William Wordsworth in his most productive period . Continue to main road. Cross with care and go down the road opposite into
Grasmere village and the car park.

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