A walk around Rydal Water – reflections and nature

Rydal Water, as far as the main bodies of water go within the English Lake District is one of the smallest. But it is one of the most beautiful.

The circular walk around it is just 3 miles and relatively flat, so this is a walk that many standards of walker can undertake.

Rydal Water itself is only just over a Kilometre long and 3 to 4 hundred metres wide, so a circuit of Rydal Water is a walk that so many can enjoy, even the kids can enjoy the walk.

If you are in the lakes there can’t be any excuses not to really. The A591 between Ambleside up to Grasmere, then Keswick is a huge tourist trap, a road that a majority of Lake District visitors will travel.

BaldHiker Retreats

Heading north from Ambleside, and not long before Grasmere, keep looking left, Rydal Water will appear and be tempting you. It is sometimes called ‘Wordsworths Walk’ due to the walk passing by where he used to live at Rydal Mount.

Rydal water reflection

I use this walk around Rydal Water as a head clearer myself. Amongst a busy day in the area it is great to just pull in here and walk around without a care for a couple of hours or more.

Parking and Start Point

There are option for parking and where to start the walk. You could start in the village of Rydal itself but I personally prefer to use White Moss Car Park at the western end of the lake.

The postcode is LA22 9SE and it is a pay & display car park like most in the area.

I like this car park better for getting straight into woods and nature from the start of the walk. I go in an anti-clockwise direction.

Setting Off

Leaving White Moss car Park head south and into the woods. You will cross a bridge over the River Rothay and be straight into nature, lovely.

The woods only last a few hundred metres so enjoy them. As you come out of the tree line you have the option to turn left or right. The right turn is where we go to climb up Loughrigg Fell. For this walk we turn left and onto the shoreline path of Rydal Water.

Here you walk the easy path along the south shore. Plenty of places to stop and admire the views. You are beneath Loughrigg Fell with the hill called Nab Scar on the opposite side.

Nab Scar reflecting in the lake at rydal water


On a calm day here the reflections are incredible, the green fells and clouds reflecting superbly in the water.

fells and water reflecting in the water, cumbria

There is something really magical about being beside water on a calm day. You can sit at the water’s edge and watch the colours not just above the horizon but below too.

bird reflected in the lake at Rydal Water

If you want a small detour on this side of the lake you can turn right a few hundred metres up the slopes of Loughrigg and explore the Rydal Caves.


It is not just about a hike or landscapes though, there is nature great or small all over the place here, just sit for short while near the water’s edge or in the woods and it will all appear.

You will see insects, birds and animals all around you. It is never a good call to just walk non stop for this reason in my opinion.

Damselflies bright blue, dancing over the water in large numbers.

a group of damselflies over the water
damselfly on a log

Where is beautiful water there are always ducks aren’t there? What a beautiful area they have.

It is so peaceful here on some days that this duck let me get quite close and he did not wake from sleeping.

duck on a rock

If you come here in the summer, at either end of Rydal Water, in the woods on the River Rothay you will find lots of Grey Wagtails jumping around by the water. In fact birds of many kinds you will see if you want to relax and stay still.

single rock in the water

Dogs and Wild Swimmers

Rydal Water is not just a place for walkers to enjoy. It is a perfect dog friendly walk.

People enjoying a picnic whilst their dogs enjoy a paddle in the shallow waters and exploring the rocks.

two dogs enjoying a paddle in rydal water

Rydal Water is also a very popular place for wild swimmers. Not just on a calm day like this, but I have seen people braving these waters in all kinds of weathers.

swimmer in Rydal water

The size of the lake and the accessibility appeals to all kinds of people who enjoy being beside, on or in the water.

dog looking at me on the walk

The Rydal End And Return

At the far end of the lake you will start to see signs of life again. The hotel and boathouse overlooking the water.

hotel overlooking rydal water
boathouse rydal

At this end there is a lovely cafe to enjoy some refreshments.

Once you meet the A591 again, turn right for just 200 metres and turn left up the lane passing the tea rooms.

The path will be seen off to the left where you start heading back along the other side of the lake.

house reflected in rydal water

Again you will gain magnificent views across the water but this time you are walking under Nab Scar and looking across to Loughrigg Fell. I love the variety.

rydal water scene

When you eventually meet a junction of footpaths, take the left and head back down to the car park you started at. A walk enjoyed and hope the ice cream van is in the car park as usual.

the lake district in summer

Route Details

Distance – 3 miles

Time – 1.5 hours

Download the GPX – Rydal Water Circular Walk

rydal water walk map
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  1. Sarah Colliver says:

    Wow! So glad I saw your picture on Twitter. You are super talented and the photographs are stunning. The water is so clear it makes me want to paddle! You capture the essence of the places you shoot and make me want to visit! Thank you! I look forward to seeing more of your articles. 🙂

  2. Grace @ Green Global Travel says:

    Wow. Rydal Water looks like a beautiful, peaceful place!

    1. Paul Steele says:

      it truly is Grace, thx

  3. Gordon Eaglesham says:

    Stayed in Grasmere a few years ago – really very scenic by both Rydal Water and Grasmere lake. It’s a shame the road noise ruins the ambiance slightly. Easedale Tarn is worth a walk.

  4. Travel Karolina Patryk says:

    Great and beautiful photos

  5. Ruth Livingstone says:

    Beautiful photos. Inspiring description of a lovely walk.

  6. Chris Older says:

    While under going a triple bye pass operation in London hospital your photos have high lighted the real beauty of the Lakes especially those of Rydal Water today, reminding me of great holidays. The shear beauty of your photos is a great lift & challenge to get back on the trail again very soon. Thank you so much.
    Yours, Chris Older (Kent )

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Hi Chris. I am glad you like the pics.. We wish you a full and speedy recovery.

  7. Mike Stewart says:

    You have managed to make me homesick yet again!!!! Stunning images.

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Hi Mike.. sorry and thanks 🙂

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