Grasmere and Rydal Water

4 mins read
Rydal Water
Rydal Water by Vivienne Crow

Two Charming Lakes

Grasmere and Rydal Water are located in the Lake District National Park in Cumbria, England. Grasmere lies to the east, while Rydal Water is situated southeast of the village of Grasmere. These two lakes are among the smallest in the National Park. A half-mile stretch of the River Rothay connects them.
Grasmere is the larger of the two lakes and features a beautiful wooded island owned by the National Trust. The island serves as a habitat for a small heronry, adding to the natural charm of the lake. On the other hand, Rydal Water is slightly smaller and is known to have a couple of smaller islands. In winter, Rydal Water can sometimes freeze over, creating a picturesque sight.

Rydal Water

Walking Circuit of the Lakes

For those who enjoy walking and hiking, there is a walking circuit that allows visitors to explore each of the lakes separately. Additionally, a combined circuit of both lakes is also possible, which covers a distance of a little over five miles, providing a great outing. Along the way, the route offers several highlights. One is Loughrigg Terrace, a scenic path that runs along the lower slopes of Loughrigg Fell which offers stunning views of Grasmere below. During spring, the slopes are adorned with vibrant bluebells, creating a captivating sight.

Grasmere lake with a rowing boat
Grasmere Lake with a rowing boat

Rydal Caves

Rydal Caves, situated above the southern shore of Rydal Water, are a series of quarried caverns made of slate. One can reach the caves by following a path from the Pelter BridgeΒ car park which is pay and display. There are stepping stones crossing the pool at the mouth of the most easily accessible cave. The walk to Rydal Cave is an easy one to do with young children. If you enjoy exploring caves go to our blog post “Top 5 Lake District secret caves“.

 take from inside Rydal caves
Taken from inside the Rydal cave

Take the Old ‘corpse road.’

One popular option for those walking around both lakes is to take the old ‘corpse road’ above the northern shore of Rydal Water. In the past, before St Mary’s Church in Ambleside was consecrated, this route was used to transport coffins from Ambleside to St Oswald’s Church in Grasmere for burial.

Boat House Grasmere
Boat House Grasmere

Wild Swimming

Grasmere and Rydal Water are also perfect for water activities. Motorboats are not allowed on either lake, making them particularly suitable for swimmers. If you park at Pelter Bridge its a short walk to a good swimming spot in Rydal Water. If you get there early enough you will have your own private beach. Canoeing, kayaking, and rowing are permitted on Grasmere but not on Rydal Water. Visitors can rent rowing boats from the Faeryland tea garden on the north-western shore of Grasmere.

Wild swimming - Rydal Water
Rydal Water – Wild Swimming


For those planning to visit Grasmere and Rydal Water, there are several parking options available, such as White Moss Car Park, Pelter Bridge Car Park.

Overall, Grasmere and Rydal Water offer a serene and picturesque landscape, making them a delightful destination for nature enthusiasts, walkers, and those seeking peaceful boating and swimming experiences.