Rydal Caves – A Fun Walk in the Lake District

If you’re driving past Rydal Water when heading toward Grasmere or back to Ambleside in the Lake District National Park, you very well may have seen people walking up to what from the road looks like a hole in the hillside. However, get closer, and you’ll see it’s the incredible Rydal Cave. Living in the Lake District, UK, we’ve done this popular Rydal Cave walk many a time and absolutely love it!

It’s a great one we’ll often do in the summer on a weeknight evening, and over time we’ve picked up a good few hints and tips to share with you so you have the best experience. In that time, we’ve often been lucky enough to get the caves to ourselves.

When you’re inside the cave, it’s just such an atmospheric place to spend some time. We’ll often find ourselves just walking around and looking at and exploring all the rocky areas inside and listening to it as it echoes. Whether you’ve visited before or not, this article will take you through all our favourite spots and what else there is to do in the area – because there is a lot!

The area is incredibly beautiful and there is so much to see, we can’t wait to show you through our recommendations below just how tranquil and diverse this area is! There are also lots of micro adventures and ways to approach the Rydal Caves walk that can turn it into a full day (or two) of fun.

Rydal Caves is a great walk too if you’re short on time, as it can be done relatively quickly. It’s also a great one for kids too, and they love exploring the caves. Whichever route you do from our outlines below, and however long you spend, we know you’ll enjoy it.

Rydal Cave

Local tip: Download all your maps in advance, including your satellite navigation if using your phone. You can now download offline Apple Maps, which is invaluable when visiting the smaller villages in the Lakes with little signal. Doing so means you can search for places you want to visit easily on the go.

Table of Contents

Where Are Rydal Caves?

The map above gives you the location for the cave itself and the main car parks you can use to visit them (there are more, but we think these ones are the best). Rydal Caves are nestled between Grasmere (the mere/lake itself) and Rydal Water, and in terms of Lake District towns, the caves are between Ambleside and Grasmere.

The iconic Loughrigg Fell sits behind it (which is a great fell walk in its own right that you can add onto your Rydal Cave walk – more on this route below). In fact, we found out that Rydal Cave is man-made and actually used to be called Rydal  or Loughrigg Quarry, and quite lovingly, the slate taken from mining in these areas was used on the beautiful houses that adorn the neighbouring towns and villages.

The caves are a popular spot given that Ambleside and Grasmere are key areas for people to stay when they visit the Lake District. However, there are plenty of car parks and other places in the area to explore off from these walks that it never really feels overly busy (except for peak weekends and bank holidays).

Depending on where you’re based, or where you’re staying, you could very easily fit the walk up to Rydal Caves into the beginning or end of your day out. It’s ideally positioned when you’re driving through the Central Lakes either heading towards Keswick or even a short detour from one of the best routes into the Langdale’s.

How to Get to Rydal Caves

Bus: One of the best ways to get to Rydal Caves is by bus. We often find that the car parks are overrun, especially in Grasmere in the summer and at weekends. It also often works out cheaper than the parking, too!

We’ve found sometimes we’ve actually had to veto plans because they’ve been so busy – as there are a lot of walks that start from there. So, getting the bus is a really valid option and we’re so glad it’s been made easier in the area. In the summer, the operator will often do reduced price ticket too.

Depending on where you’re coming from and which direction, you can get the 599 bus. You want to get off at the White Moss Common stop, which is literally just outside the White Moss Car Park. The full timetable for this bus can be found here. This bus starts at Bowness-on-Windermere and goes along the side of the lake, past Windermere and Ambleside, finishing up in Grasmere.

Alternatively, you can take the 555 bus which runs all the way from Kendal (and before that Lancaster) to Keswick. It takes the same route mostly as the 599 but avoids Bowness-on-Windermere. You still get off the bus at White Moss Common. Here is the map.  

Train: The train is a bit trickier as there is no direct station close to Rydal Caves. The closest train station is Windermere, and from there you’d either need to get the 599 or 555 bus up to White Moss Common to start the walk.

Both buses stop at Windermere train station. That said, it really isn’t a bad option either and there are plenty of trains and buses running through the day!

Car: One of the easiest options to get to Rydal Caves (and the one we most often use in the week and quieter times) is by car. Whilst there are some brilliant public transport options in the Lakes now, we do find we often rely on our car to get to places which aren’t as easily served as it just makes things easier and makes stop offs at other places make more sense too.

Looking out onto Rydal Water
Looking out onto Rydal Water from the path up to Rydal Caves from Pelter Bridge

Where Do You Park to Visit Rydal Caves?

There are quite a few car parks that serve the Rydal Caves hike, some of them are closer to the caves themselves, and others start from nearby towns, such as Grasmere. This obviously varies how far you’ll have to walk to reach them. We always find that the car parks closest get busy, especially in summer.

For example, White Moss gets busy because there are other walks in the area, as well as giving access to Rydal Water and Grasmere which are pretty popular to go sit by when the weather is nice. So, keep this in mind when deciding which walk you want to do, and let this determine when you do it.

The parking in the Lake District is a bit contentious to be honest – there are a couple of agencies who control the car parks – and the prices are generally always going up (which everyone finds frustrating). However, this shouldn’t put you off because you will generally find a space (and sometimes it can be really quiet) so we’ve outlined the best car parks for Rydal Caves below.

We would strongly advise against parking in laybys on roads nearby. There are a couple of roads nearby where we’ve heard people say you can park, but it creates a problem. In the last few years, the Lakes has seen a big influx of visitors, which is great.

However, a lot of people hoping to park for free are parking in spots that actually block the narrow roads, making it impossible for emergency vehicles to get past and sometimes even normal vehicles, too. Quite a lot of the time, they’re not areas even intended for parking – they’re passing places, so this creates an even bigger problem. The restrictions are also always changing too – so what we write now may well have changed by the time you visit! We personally don’t think it’s really worth risking it and just pay when we want to visit.

rydal caves walk from pelter bridge

Pelter Bridge Car Park, Rydal Water

Location: Ambleside LA22 9LW, just south of Rydal Water
Facilities: No toilets or food and drink facilities – so go before you arrive!

Cost: £5 for 2 hours, £7 for 3 hours, £8 for 4 hours, charges in force 24 hours a day, Monday to Sunday. You can pay with card, contactless and by RingGo at this car park. Please note that prices are correct at time of writing, you should always go by what the parking meter says at the location and double check this.

Pelter Bridge Car Park is the best one to aim for if you want the absolute shortest walk up to Rydal Caves, which follows Route 1 of our walks below. It is quite small however, there is only space for 15 cars so it can get busy as it isn’t just the starting point of the Rydal Caves walk, but many others in the area.

It’s open 7 days a week, and like many of the other car parks in this area, it is now chargeable 24 hours a day. So, make sure you book your parking accordingly. This is probably our favourite spot to park if there is space, as it allows you to do a nice evening walk and you will generally find there is a good in and out flow of traffic from here.

White Moss Car Park, Rydal Water

Location: Ambleside, LA22 9SE, nestled just after Rydal Water and before Grasmere. Please note, this car park is now called ‘White Moss Lower Car Park’  but can still be searched for using the information provided above.

Facilities: Public toilets adjacent, just at the start of the walk to Rydal Cave. No café or refreshments

Cost: £5 for 2 hours, £2.20 each additional hour. Chargeable all day Monday – Sunday. Can pay by card, cash, contactless and phone. You can also use the RingGo app – location 41172). Though we wouldn’t recommend this as signal is patchy and if you book it in advance there is no guarantee of a space. Check the website in advance for up to date information and make sure to check the parking meter upon arrival.

Where to start with White Moss Car Park – it really isn’t a favourite of ours, and it isn’t a favourite of many people. It’s main saving grace it that it’s large, has space for 80 cars and has toilets next to it. The parking system is run on a numberplate recognition system, and unfortunately, some people who’ve visited have been subject to getting a fine for just driving in and out not having been able to find a space.

There’s also been a lot of people who have paid for the parking they needed through RingGo and still received a fine, even though they had enough time booked. This parking is run by a private agency, and it just doesn’t seem the best.

We’ve personally never experienced a problem when we’ve parked here, but we also don’t really like parking at this spot because it always feels like this could be the time something happens, and you end up getting a fine for no reason. Our advice – use one of the other car parks if you can and save this one for a last resort! If you can’t find a spot at Pelter Bridge and fancy the longer walk, park in Grasmere.

Rydal Water Car Park, Rydal Water

Location: Ambleside, LA22 9SE. Right between Rydal Water and Grasmere. Please note this car park has recently changed name to ‘White Moss Higher Car Park’  but when you search on a map, you can still find it by searching for Rydal Water Car Park, or using the same post code above.

Facilities: No facilities, but open all year, 24 hours a day

Cost: £5 for 2 hours, £2.20 each additional hour, charges in force 24 hours a day, Monday to Sunday. The parking information provided is correct at time of writing, please check the parking meter upon arrival. Payment using cash, card, contactless and RingGo (location 41171) available.

rydal water car park

Similar to White Moss car parks, this car park is handled by a private company and uses numberplate recognition to work out how to charge you for your visit. Where some people get caught out is because they don’t realise that they charge you from the moment you enter the car park.

So, if you try to pay using the RingGo app, you need to factor this in, and not from when you actually pay. However, this is a relatively decent sized car park so you are likely to get a spot (though be aware that if you hover, you will need to pay for this time too).

Stock Lane Car Park, Grasmere

Location: Stock Ln, Grasmere, LA22 9SL
Facilities: Electric vehicle charging (1), disabled spaces, no toilets

Cost: £5 for 2 hours, £6 for 3 hours, £8.50 for 24 hours, enforceable 24 hours a day. You can pay with card, cash, contactless and phone. RingGo works here – location ID 37319, and there is signal enough to pay. Please check for any changes to prices when you arrive at the parking meter.

stock lane car park

The Stock Lane Car Park in Grasmere is well placed for one of the longer walks we’ve outlined below from Grasmere to Rydal Caves. It has 52 spaces so there is a decent amount of room and there are a good few car parks in Grasmere, so it’s likely you’ll get a space.

It is worth keeping in mind though that Grasmere gets very busy at weekends, and there have been times where we’ve struggled to get a space. So, if you do go on a weekend, try to get there earlier or a little later in the evening.

Red Bank Road Car Park, Grasmere

Location: Red Bank Road car park, Grasmere, LA22 9PU
Facilities: 6 disabled spaces

Cost: £2.20 for 1 hour, £3.90 for 2 hours, £5.10 for 3 hours, £9.40 all day, enforceable from 8am until 8pm. No cash payment options. You can pay by card, contactless and pay by phone (location ID is 9919). Parking costs and times of operation are subject to change, always check when you arrive to see what restrictions are in place and up to date charges.

red bank road car park grasmere

This is a decently sized car park that allows you to do the walk from Grasmere up to Rydal Caves. It has 77 spaces so you are usually likely to find a space – though as with Stock Lane above, it can get busy.

Our best advice would be to go earlier or later in the day to guarantee a space, and also book slightly more parking than you think you need, just to be on the safe side. The thing that’s great about this spot as well is that you’ll go loosely past the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop, which as we’ve outlined below is well worth a visit!

We’d also recommend a short detour to Freda + Ray coffee shop if you get chance too. They do an excellent flat white which is perfect to walk with to the lake and caves.

Broadgate Meadow Car Park, Grasmere

Location: Broadgate Meadow, Broadgate, LA22 9TA
Facilities: Disabled spaces

Cost: £5 for 2 hours, £6 for 3 hours, £8.50 for 24 hours, enforceable 24 hours a day. You can pay with card and phone. RingGo works here – location ID 37313, and there is signal enough to pay. Check at the car park for any changes to parking costs before heading out on the trail.

broadgate meadow car park

This is another decent car park from Grasmere that allows you to do a longer walk up to Rydal Cave and has 70 spaces so you’re likely to get a space. Likewise with this car park, you get to walk through Grasmere so this can be a nice way to add in looking around the village at either the start or end of your walk.

There is a decent sized Co-op very close to this car park which is great for picking up a few provisions, as well as loads of independent cafes and restaurants – all are lovely so take your pick. This car park is also a good place to start the walk to Easedale Tarn from, which we’ve outlined as another walk you can do in the area later on.

Rydal Road Car Park, Ambleside

Location: 1-3 Rydal Road, Ambleside, LA22 9AY
Facilities: Disabled spaces

Cost: £2.20 for 1 hour, £3.90 for 2 hours, £5.10 for 3 hours, £9.40 12 hours, enforceable from 8am until 8pm, free after. You can pay by cash, card, contactless, and pay by phone (location ID is 9917). Correct at time of writing, but this is subject to change. Always check at the car park that you’ve paid correctly before heading out on your walk.

rydal road car park

If you’re planning to do walk 4 from our list below, then the Rydal Road Car Park in Ambleside is the best spot to head to. It’s a pretty decent sized car park, and far bigger than any of the ones in Grasmere – it has 181 spaces. However, Ambleside can be busy and therefore this car park can be busy too. So, keep that in mind.

As this car park does put you on the outer edges of Ambleside, we would really recommend going for a walk into Ambleside when you’ve finished to look around, it’s also a good spot to get some post walk refreshments. See below for our suggestions of things to do in Ambleside which includes some of our favourite food/restaurant suggestions.

How to Get to Rydal Cave

The only way to reach Rydal Cave is on foot – you have to walk, but the good thing is, this walk is relatively accessible for a lot of people. The great thing about Rydal Cave is that there are various ways you can get to it. Each route is a fun variation, and you’ll get to see lots of different things on your way.

Each of these can give you a slightly different feel of the Lake District, and this is what we love so much about the area – the variety. You really won’t be bored on any of these routes.

What’s also worth mentioning is that there are various routes available depending on the length you want to complete and also trail conditions. Some have more ascent and descent than others (though all do include the final ascent up to the caves which can feel a little steep depending on your tolerance to cardio).

Below, we’ve outlined four of our favourite routes, with trail maps and as much information as possible to help you decide which route is right for you. You can of course combine any of these routes with the suggestions we’ve made later on in this article for ways to extend your walk. Whichever route you do, we’re sure you’ll enjoy it.

how to get to rydal cave

About our walking maps: We use Outdooractive to give maps to go alongside our trail guides. It’s simple to download these routes or print them out by clicking on the map. That will open directly to Outdooractive. You can subscribe to a free plan which allows you to get hold of offline maps. Be sure to download your route in advance to prevent any problems on the trail. 

Route 1 – Pelter Bridge Car Park to Rydal Cave

Starting point: Pelter Bridge Car Park, LA22 9LW
Difficulty:
Easy – well graded paths, with some ascent to reach the cave. Suitable for most, but not suitable for wheelchairs, and depending on mobility, you may struggle inside the cave.
Length: 2.3km/1.4 miles
Ascent/descent:
70m/229 ft.
When to do it:
This is a great trail to access all year round, but the trails can be slippery after heavy snowfall.

  1. As you leave the car park, you’ll walk on the road for the first section as you head uphill. Don’t let this put you off as it doesn’t stay going uphill for too long!
  2. We love the start of the walk as the stone walls are really mossy and there are plenty of trees around. If you visit in the sunshine, the start will put you in a good mood. You’ll continue heading uphill, but this feels pretty gentle, and the path is fairly wide and gravel based.
pelter bridge to rydal cave

3. Shortly after, you’ll come to a gate that you want to go through. This goes to a trail on the left which you want to take.

4. At this point the trail levels out and we’re always taken aback by how beautiful Rydal Water looks from above. So, spend a little bit of time taking in the view before you continue. You’re walking along this flat path for a while now so it’s a lovely one to enjoy.

5. Once you’ve walked along the upper Rydal path, the last section up to the cave does go uphill again. This is a pretty short section.

6. You’ll know you’ve reached the cave when you see a big dark hole in the rock! To get in, you can walk over the stepping stones. They aren’t generally slippery but some can be underwater if it’s been raining very heavily. So good waterproof shoes or boots are a must if you want to explore properly.

7. We always go into the cave via the stones on the right as they feel easier – it is rockier but it’s also manageable. Likewise, if the water isn’t deep, we’ll just walk through in our waterproof boots.

8. It’s a pretty impressive sight when you’re in the cave and you’ll feel like you’ve turned into a big kid again – if you have kids with you, they’ll love making sounds and listening to the echoes.

9. Once you’ve enjoyed the cave and got some pictures, the route back is simple as you just follow the same paths you took in, so just retrace your steps.

Route 2 – White Moss and Rydal Water Car Parks to Rydal Cave

Starting point: White Moss Car Park or Rydal Water Car Park (postcode for both is LA22 9SE) – please note Rydal Water Car Park has recently been renamed ‘White Moss Upper Car Park’ and White Moss Car Park has become ‘White Moss Lower Car Park’. You can still find them by searching the information and postcodes above.
Difficulty: Easy – a longer walk but still with well graded paths, can be made shorter by cutting out the ‘loop’ section after the cave that goes down to Rydal Water by retracing steps from the cave.
Length: 4.2km/2.6 miles
Ascent/descent: 73m/239ft.
When to do it:
This trail is good to walk on all year round, it’s never very slippery except if there’s been heavy snowfall or ice.

  1. The route is pretty much the same from either Rydal Water or White Moss Car Parks so you can pretty much just follow these instructions for both. To begin, head out on the path from the car park – you’ll pass some toilets on your right hand side.
  2. You’ll then pass a bridge which goes over the river Rothay. Keep going on this path through the woodland. There you’ll see a sign that says ‘Woodland Walk’ which you want to follow. This is a pretty start to the walk amongst the trees.
rydal cave from white moss

3. This path then reaches a sign that says ‘Rydal Caves’ which goes off to the right and is the first real uphill section so far. Take that path.

4. At this point you’ll keep walking up hill until you reach a sign for Rydal Cave which points straight uphill.

white moss walks lake district

5. This part of the trail is a little bit rocky but it’s also quite wide and the gradient is never too severe. Shortly after walking along this trail, you will reach Rydal Cave.

6. At this stage you can follow points 6, 7 and 8 from the previous walk.

7. When you’ve finished in the cave, you have two options for your return. The first one would just have you going back the way you came. The second option is our favourite as you’ll walk down and out the other side of the cave, which is the option we’ve provided on our map. We much prefer this as it allows you to take in the pretty Rydal Water before returning to the car park.

8. If you take this route option, you’ll take a right out of the caves and walk along the upper path. At the bottom of the hill, take a left turn onto the shore of Rydal Water.

9. Keep following this path along the shore, until it moves away from it. You’ll then reach a fork in the path, and you’ll retrace your steps at this point through the woodland for the last section back to your car.

Route 3 – Grasmere to Rydal Cave

Starting point: Grasmere – any of the car parks there will do!
Difficulty: Moderate – a descent distance but on good paths with minimal ascent. Some walking on the road out from Grasmere but mostly quiet route.
Length: 8.1km/5 miles
Ascent/descent:
90m/295 ft.
When to do it:
All year round – can be slippery after heavy snow

  1. This route is one of the longer options, but it’s one of our favourites as it takes in both Grasmere Lake and views of Rydal Water too. As you head out of Grasmere, you’ll want to follow signs that say Grasmere Lake.
  2. For the first section there is a walking path on the side of the road, but as you turn right and keep walking on Red Bank Road the road narrows off. However, it is very quiet, but do just keep an eye and ear out for cars.
  3. This road is really pretty, and we love looking at the houses on the road side and the stone walls that adorn the side of Grasmere Lake.
start of grasmere route

4. You’ll keep walking along Red Bank Road for a while as it crosses two cattle grids. Shortly after, you will see a turn off path from the road that goes down to the lake shore. Take this and follow it down to the shore.

5. From here you can follow the lake shore path and take in the views. We love taking a break here either for a swim or to eat a picnic. It’s a lovely way to make a day of it.

path down to grasmere lake

6. Keep following the lake shore path along until you reach the end of the lake, and at this point it joins the inlet for Rydal Water.

7. Here, there will be a path that forks left, and a path that forks right up the hillside. You want to take the path that goes up the hillside to the right.

grasmere lake

8. Keep following this trail uphill until you can see Rydal Water clearly ahead of you from above. At this point you want to take the fork to the right that heads to the cave.

9. From here you can then follow points 3-6 from the previous route and then retrace your steps back down to where you’ve parked your car in Grasmere.

rydal cave in the evening

Route 4 – Ambleside to Rydal Cave

Starting point: Any of the car parks in Ambleside, but the closest are the ones in the upper end of town. Rydal Road Car Park is generally best – LA22 9AN.
Difficulty:
Moderate – similar length to route 3 but with almost double the ascent.
Length:
7.9km/4.9 miles
Ascent/descent: 175m/574 ft.
When to do it:
All year round, paths can be icy after heavy storms and wintery conditions

  1. As you come out of the car park, cross onto the road, Smithy Brow and then shortly after take a left onto Nook Lane. You are walking along the road for a little bit but it’s pretty quiet, but just keep your eyes and ears alert.
  2. This road/lane will start to gently head up hill. You want to carry on along here until the lane stops and it turns into a footpath. This is when you’ve reached Papermill Coppice. This is a lovely section of the walk through trees.
ambleside to rydal cave

3. Take the left hand path here, and then when you meet a junction that bears both to the left and right shortly after, take the left fork in the trail. This heads downhill.

4. At the end of this trail, take a right and this will take you all the way to Rydal. This is such a quiet section of the route and you’ll also pass the Formal Garden at Rydall Hall as the path bends down to the left – we love this part!

rydal mount

5. The path joins a small road that’s used to access Rydal Hall straight ahead. Cross over it and continue on the path that bends around St. Mary’s. This is a nicer way to get to the road crossing and has less of a section on the road!

6. Cross the road here then walk along on the right for a very short time until you see another trail straight ahead of you. This immediately goes across the river. Follow the track through the woodland until you reach a narrow lane and take a right and follow this up.

river rothay from ambleside

7. From here, you can follow route 1 for the rest of the walk up to and down from Rydal Cave.

8. When you’ve completed this section, just retrace your steps back to Ambleside, as above.

rydal caves walking route

Exploring Rydal Cave

Be sure to watch our video above to give you a feel for how atmospheric Rydal Cave is when you get there! The cave is really fun to explore and whilst it may look a little unassuming from the road as you drive past, you’re always amazed when you enter it just how big (an echoey) it is.

We love how atmospheric it feels from inside and if you walk to the back, it can feel quite eerie. Especially if you visit on a dull day. The dripping water and hollow sounds just add to that.

One of our favourite things is the view from the back of the cave, which gives you a striking image as the cave frames the wonderful fell views out in front of you. If you visit on a still day, you may also see reflections in the water at the front of the cave, which even more adds to the atmosphere.

When entering the cave, there are stepping stones that allow you to get in. Whilst the right hand side ones may look tempting, we always prefer the left hand side ones for ease. They’re never really slippery and we’ve never fallen in – so you should be good!

The stepping stones also make a great framing for the cave too – we love the way these look in the water with the surrounding hills in the background. No matter how many times we visit, we still love it here – there’s something really cool about being able to go inside a cave, working like a picture frame for the outside views. We’re sure you’ll love it too.

Ways to Extend Your Hike to Rydal Caves

There are plenty of ways to extend your hike at Rydal Caves if you want a longer route and want to spend more time outdoors. The great thing about this area is there are lots of trails that branch off at different points so you could easily extend. This gives you a great opportunity to appreciate what else is in the area and get a different perspective.

We personally love adding a walk in around Grasmere too, if you’re feeling up for it. Especially if you hike to Rydal Caves from Grasmere village itself. There are some wonderful views of the area from Grasmere Lake and the lakeshore itself is so calm and just a great place to stop off and make a bit longer of it with a picnic (or even have a swim).

Another favourite is Coffin Road or the Coffin Route (more on that below) which gives you a higher perspective and some really lovely fell views at points. A trip to Ambleside, if you’re in the area, is always an addition we love too. Below, we’ve outlined some of our favourite additions to give you some ideas of what you could include.

Rydal Water seen from above is particularly beautiful framed by the surrounding trees

Loughrigg Fell Circular

Another great way to extend the Rydal Caves walk is to take in Loughrigg Fell, which sits just above the caves. In fact, if you’re newer to fell walking, Loughrigg Fell is a good one to take in as it has some pretty special views from the top. We love the fact you can see out to Lougrigg Tarn too – which is another area we’d recommend exploring.

We class the Loughrigg Fell circular as a moderate route. It is quite steep in places and there are a lot of gravely sections that can feel loose on the way down. However, having done Loughrigg Fell from most routes possible, we think the route up from Rydal Caves is perhaps the best one on your body – as it isn’t quite as steep as some of the others!

That said, the first section uphill is pretty steep, but then it does level out (thank goodness) a bit more toward the summit of Loughrigg Fell. None the less we think it’s really worth the effort.

If you add this onto your Rydal Cave hike you could easily do this extra section added onto the rest in 3 hours total. That involves stopping to take photographs, which you’ll want to!

You can park at any of the car parks listed above that you’d use for Rydal Caves. This is one we particularly love toward sunset as the views are just breath taking on a sunnier day. It’s a 4.7km/2.9 mile trail – here’s the link to an AllTrails map for the Loughrigg Fell Circular that we usually do.

views from loughrigg fell
One of the views from Loughrigg Fell

Coffin Road

If you’ve looked at any of the walking maps we’ve provided so far, you may have noticed over the other side of Rydal Water is a path called the Coffin Route or Coffin Road. This interestingly named path has some history to it. This was used in the past to take coffins to the only consecrated burial ground in the area, which was at St Oswalds in Grasmere.

What we like about the Coffin Road is that is allows you to get a higher up vantage point on Rydal Water and the mountains that surround it. Whilst it is pretty much next to the road, you can rarely hear the cars either.

You can take the route below we’ve outlined for walking around Rydal Water as this does take the Coffin Route in. But you can also do a really lovely variant from Ambleside too, which makes it quite a different experience.

There is a lot to see on the way, like Dove Cottage, Rydal Hall and Rydal Mount. 6km/3.8 miles one way with 260m/856 ft. of ascent. It’s a much longer route, and is more challenging, so it may be best saved to do on its own, but it’s well worth doing if you can. It’s – this AllTrails Map outlines it in more detail.

coffin route
The Coffin Route is a great way of seeing a different side of the Lake District

Walk Round Rydal Water

The walk around Rydal Water is also really lovely. We really love Rydal Water as the lake is just stunningly clear and you’ve got mountains peering off in all directions.

It’s also a walk you can add on to Rydal Caves very easily, especially if you want a longer walk. This walk also takes in the previously highlighted Coffin Road or Coffin Route as well, which is a nice way to see Rydal Water from above at a different angle.

The AllTrails route that we’ve linked to has you starting off from around Pelter Bridge Car Park, but you also pretty much pass White Moss Car Park on your way around the circuit anyway. So it would be the most tiny of detours to park here too (or get the bus to/from).

It’s a 4.5km/2.8 mile circular, with 189m/623 ft. of ascent and descent. So it does add a chunk to the existing walk, but totally doable. Be aware that whilst this is a lovely spot to visit in the summer in the evening, it can get quite insect heavy, especially with midges. So, either go with bug spray on, or don’t leave it until too late.

shores of rydal water

Walk Round Grasmere

We love Grasmere, it’s a beautiful village and has that Lake District charm. It’s quite a fancy area and you’ll notice that if you look at any of the hotels that adorn the streets.

Aside from that, it’s nice to just walk around and take in the little streets and lanes. It gets extremely busy in the village over weekends as there are a lot of pubs and restaurants, so parking can be a nightmare. But if you go a little later in the day, you will find a spot.

We’d recommend going and getting coffee from Freda + Ray. It’s a really lovely independent place and their coffee, in our opinion, is the best in the village. They also do really nice sweet bites and really good sausage rolls!

You can of course walk around Grasmere Lake too, here’s a link to an AllTrails route we’d recommend. It’s 5.1km/3.16 miles with 266m/872 ft. of ascent and descent.

If you also want another suggestion for a beautiful walk (though this is most of a day in itself), head up to Easedale Tarn from Grasmere. You can also add on Helm Crag too, if you want.

This is one of our favourite hikes in the area. Easedale Tarn itself is a beautiful place, but the views on the way up the fell side are spectacular. You’ll also be treated to the amazing Sour Milk Ghyll on the way up.

There are a couple of swimming spots in the waterfall pool on the way up, but this can get very busy and is becoming subject to erosion, so please do keep that in mind. Here’s the link to an AllTrails route that will take you from Grasmere to Easedale Tarn. You won’t regret it if you do it – it’s one of our favourites!

easedale tarn walk
We never get bored of the stunning views on the Easedale Tarn walk

Detour to See the River Rothay Stepping Stones

If you park at Pelter Bridge Car Park, then you are really close to the River Rothay Stepping Stones. They are really worth the detour to go and see. Even if you’re not parked at this spot, we’d recommend it anyway.

What we love is that there are so many amazing fells to climb in the Lake District, but it doesn’t always have to be about that. There are so many picturesque, chocolate box scenes to take in that don’t involve going up big hills.

These charming stepping stones frame the crossing over the River Rothay between Ambleside and Rydal Water. Here’s a Google Maps link to their location. From the Pelter Bridge Car park its roughly a 10 minute walk to the stepping stones, and from the car park you’ll head down the ‘Under Loughrigg’ path.

Alternatively, if you’re walking up from Ambleside, it’s about 40 minutes in. The River Rothay Stepping Stones make a great picture and you can get some interesting perspectives by taking your photo from a little lower, having the stones towering in the foreground with the fells rolling off in the background.

river rothay stepping stones

Try Some Grasmere Gingerbread

If you decide to park up in Grasmere, or even if you just decide to walk into the village, then you absolutely want to go and try some Grasmere Gingerbread! You will likely know you’ve arrived as there will probably be a queue down the street – this place is very iconic to the area. If you have time, it’s worth waiting (and it’s usually pretty quick moving).

As you get toward the door of the Grasmere Gingerbread shop, you just get hit by this intense smell of ginger and sweetness. This gingerbread has been made to a unique recipe since 1854!

Sarah Nelson, a Victorian, was the first person to make it in the village, and it’s really special. It’s like a combination of a biscuit and a cake and it’s just mouth watering.

We were sad to find out a while back that the recipe has changed recently. It used to be completely vegan but now contains milk. We really hope this changes back soon! It’s such a quaint place to visit – and you’ll want to get one of the bigger packs. You’ll regret it otherwise.

grasmere gingerbread
The always busy gingerbread shop!

Have a Drink at the Badger Bar

When we first walked past the Badger Bar, we jokingly said that we hoped there were actual badgers there. Well, we weren’t wrong.

Outwardly it’s just a lovely pub, with a warm and cosy atmosphere as you walk inside. It’s a nice place to go after a walk – especially if it’s been raining! They have great beer and great food.

However, the thing that makes it different is the badger colony that lives in the grounds of the pub. Every night, the pub feeds them and has a badger feeding for you to see.

Badgers like quiet so if you are, you’re more likely to see them and have them come close to you. It’s just a unique experience! April to October is the best time for seeing them – and we would recommend adding this into your visit, even if just for fun.

badger bar ambleside

Swim in Rydal Water

No matter which way you walk to the caves, you’ll either walk past Rydal Water or see it from above. It’s an inviting spot for a swim, and one we love! It’s a very picturesque spot, and on a calm day, the water and views are just amazing.

The best spots for swimming at Rydal Water are over the other shore from the car parks. These are the best spots because they are quite gravelly and much easier to get in and out.

In fact, the best spots are pretty much straight under where you can see the mouth of the main cave. The swimming spot is about a 15 or so minute walk from Pelter Bridge Car Park, or 20 minutes from White Moss.

If you want to combine swimming in Rydal Water with visiting Rydal Cave, and you park in Pelter Bridge Car Park, you’ll need to turn off at the junction for Rydal Water on the outbound path. If parking at White Moss, it’s pretty much just on the way. On this map, we’ve marked the location that we think is best to swim from at Rydal Water.

Swim in Grasmere

If you walk to Rydal Caves from Grasmere itself, you will walk along the shore of Grasmere and be familiar with it. Even if you walk in from White Moss or similar, we’d still recommend heading over to Grasmere to just take some time to relax by the shore. Swimming in Grasmere is always one of our favourite things to do when we visit Rydal Caves and this area.

Grasmere is a really lovely lake to swim in, and it’s actually a good one if you’re not so used to swimming, as unlike Windermere there are no motorized boats on the lake. Our favourite entrance spot to the lake for swimming is as you reach the lake shore from the upper path from Grasmere village (point 4 in our Grasmere to Rydal Caves walk above).

This is a really nice entry section as it has lots of flat gravel and some benches scattered along the path around here to get changed if needed. We’ve provided a Google Maps location for you below for this.

If you’re also looking for other areas to swim in the Lake District, we’d recommend reading our 22 Best Places for Wild Swimming article which contains many options around here within a clickable map.

grasmere swim

Take a Boat or Kayak on Grasmere

Grasmere is a really nice lake to enjoy and find your bearings when it comes to water sports. We’re just getting into canoeing, and we tend to find some of the bigger lakes with larger motorised boats a bit off putting.

Grasmere is great for this as it’s closed to bigger boats (and there’s no real mooring area for them anyway). You can take a paddleboard out on the lake easily enough – the only thing is bringing it down. The closest place to park for this is White Moss Car Parks, listed above, which sits pretty much between Grasmere and Rydal Water.

If you park in Grasmere itself you will have to walk along to the lake, which is a distance. If you want to paddleboard, you’ll want to be able to carry your board easily on your back.

If you want to rent a small rowboat, there is a place on the shore called Faeryland Grasmere. There is extremely limited parking here, so it’s best chatting to them in advance. All details including prices can be found on their site linked above.

They also told us when we visited that if you want to rent a kayak or paddleboard, you can rent from elsewhere and they offer launching from their site. You would need to arrange transporting the kayak or paddleboard yourself, and they charge £10 for launching which includes all day parking on their site.

This is a really nice way to see and experience the lake from a different perspective. On a sunny day, there couldn’t be anything more perfect. The island in the middle of Grasmere is particularly nice to go out to as well.

faeryland boat hire
The idyllic setting of Faeyland Grasmere

Visit Wordsworth’s House and Garden

If you’re into history, you may be interested to visit Wordsworth’s House and Garden which is a really short distance from Rydal Caves, in Grasmere village. We think it’s well worth it as it’s really interesting to learn more about Wordsworth and the impact the local area had on his writing.  

When you do a Google search, you may find that there are actually two Wordsworth residences, with one being in Cockermouth which is quite a distance from where you’ll be for Rydal. The one you’re looking for is just outside Grasmere and is called Dove Cottage. The address is Town End, Grasmere, Ambleside, LA22 9PP. Here is a Google Maps location for it to help you, too.

We think the cottage from outside is really pretty and has that real old English feel, which is so quintessential to the area. There are also gardens and a museum (the garden is lovely too) where you can learn quite a bit about Wordsworth’s time living here.

It’s such a lovely place to spend some time looking around – apparently Wordsworth described the area as paradise, and we have to agree (although we may be biased).

It is quite expensive to get in – it was 15GBP the last time we visited per person, but it’s worth it, we think. It’s open Tuesday – Saturday from 10am – 4pm. Last entry is at 3:20pm. We’d recommend going to the Wordsworth Grasmere website in advance for up to date details and if there have been any price/opening time changes.

wordsworth dove cottage grasmere

Explore Ambleside

Ambleside is such a lovely place to explore, and even though we live in the area and drive through many times a week, we still love going and having a look around. Depending on where you’re staying when you visit, it’s a nice place to either go before or afterward either for lunch or dinner. It has a real buzz to it.

It’s also a great place to go look around some of the quintessentially Cumbrian architecture which building’s make heavy use of the slate quarried from the surrounding fells (like Rydal Cave). In the daytime, there are loads of really lovely little independent shops that cater to all interests. You’ve got Bath House and Herby Jacks which stock Pure Lakes beauty products.

We particularly love going to The Rattle Gyhll which is a deli and stocking up on a few nice food items from. They also do an incredible range of artisanal ciders which you’ll definitely want to try.

In terms of food, there is a lot to choose from, Bellis Café & Bistro is great for breakfasts, situated on Rydal Road. Then there’s Tacos del Sol tucked down on Cheapside for lunch – their staff are really friendly, and their food is so good. Doi Itanon is also great for Thai food – they’re located on Market Place and are open usually for dinner.

If possible, we’d say give yourself a couple of hours to look around Ambleside. It’s not a big place, but you’ll be glad you stopped and gave it a moment of your time.

Equally, if you wanted to venture a little further out of Ambleside, you could visit Chesters by the River, which is an amazing bakery and coffee shop who make the most amazing cakes! From Chesters, you may also enjoy the Tarn Hows walk, which is relatively close by too. 

What to Take with You for a Walk to Rydal Caves

Going out for a walk to Rydal Caves does not need to be complicated when it comes to what to bring with you. This just needs to be the essentials that you’d take for any hike.

Depending on your hiking already, you may well have your backpack set up, but if you’re unsure, you can use our day hiking checklist to help you know what you should pack depending on the season. You may also want to read our what to wear on a hike article, too. 

That said, the Lake District has its own set of unique weather and trail circumstances that mean there are some specifics you will want to consider. Below we’ve outlined what we think are the most important things to bring with you.

what to wear rydal cave

Good Waterproof Hiking Shoes or Boots

Since moving to the Lakes, we seem to wear hiking boots and shoes all the time. From experience, you’ll want to make sure you bring good waterproof footwear. There is a pretty good chance that you will encounter somewhere boggy at least once on your walk, and ventilated running shoes don’t really cut the muster if you don’t want wet feet.

It rains a lot here, and you should always be prepared that it may rain, no matter what the weather forecast has said! When you reach the caves, there is a lot of water, and so it’s just a good idea to make sure you’re prepared. We’ve written a number of guides on the best waterproof hiking shoes, the best hiking boots and the best hiking shoes to help you decide which is right for you.

waterproof hiking shoes
The Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX Hiking shoes are a great waterproof option

Waterproof Coat

Much the same as a good pair of waterproof hiking boots or shoes, a waterproof coat is pretty much a non-negotiable in the Lake District. We never go out on a hike without a waterproof coat in our bags, just in case.

No matter what the weather report says, there is always the chance of rain here. Sometimes those rain showers can be really short, but if you get caught out you can end up very soggy! So, we always advise to bring a waterproof just in case.

A good, packable one is the best option, so it doesn’t weigh down your bag too much. You also want something that is lightweight, so it is versatile for both the summer and colder seasons. Our guide to the best waterproof rain jackets for hiking covers ten and includes lots of buying advice to help you choose the right one.

waterproof coat
We've been impressed with The North Face Dryzzle Futurelight Rain Jacket

Daypack

A daypack is a really good idea for your walk to Rydal Cave. Whilst the most direct walk is pretty short, a day pack will allow you to keep everything together and bring a rain jacket just in case.

If you’re wanting to stay out for a little longer, it’s a good way to store your drink and snacks as well, and if you want to swim, a good way to store your stuff. We’d recommend something light and small for your Rydal Caves walk, like the Rab Tensor pack. Which is more than big enough for what you’ll need here.

rab tensor day pack
The Rab Tensor Pack is the perfect size for day adventures

Map

Let’s face it, most of us use maps on our phones now for navigating on walks, don’t we? There is nothing wrong with that at all, but there are a couple of things you can do just to make things easier.

The first is to make sure you download all your walking routes beforehand to your phone. Make sure everything is synced up properly. Just to double check, put your phone on Airplane mode and make sure they open.

It’s also a good idea to bring a portable phone charger with you just in case you run low, and just make sure your phone is charged before you head out on the walk. We always put our phones on airplane mode for navigation in this area. There is signal here, but it’s not quite enough for Outdooractive maps to load.

Putting it onto airplane mode just stops your device from struggling to load your map on cellular and just opens from the offline map you have saved. We still like to keep a paper OS map in the bottom of our bag, just in case anything should happen, too. We generally think it’s better just to be a little bit over prepared so you can just focus on enjoying the walk.

Compass

Similar to a paper map, it’s a good idea just to air on the side of caution and carry a compass with it too (and know how to use it). To be honest, we keep these things in the bottom of our day packs anyway as a go to, and have them there more for bigger adventures, but we still just carry them on smaller walks anyway.

A compass doesn’t weigh very much, and it gives you that extra layer of security. Knowing how to use it is the most important thing, as is reading the basics of a map. Our guide to the best hiking compasses rounds up 8 inexpensive options that will sort you out with what you need.

Torch

The caves get very dark and so a torch can be a really good way to see more of this wonderful place. It’s especially helpful if you visit on a slightly darker day as it can make it feel even more dingy! You could likely just use the torch on your phone – and most people do. But you could also bring a separate torch in your pack.

We always carry a head torch with us anyway just in case we’re caught out at night later than we’d planned, and we find these much easier than carrying a torch. You can just put it on your head, so it keeps your hands free for exploring. Our favourite (and we’d recommend this as a great general hiking torch) is the Petzl Actic Core, which recharges over USB and its battery life lasts for ages.

Hiking Poles

Depending on exactly what walk you do, and how you feel hiking you may benefit from some hiking poles. We personally love them – Fay uses them all the time and finds they make a really big difference to stability and how your knees feel after.

If you want to do a longer walk, involving something like Loughrigg Fell, Easedale Tarn or Helm Crag from Grasmere, there are some steep, loose gravel sections that really benefit from what hiking poles can offer. Hiking poles don’t need to be complicated and we’d recommend a folding pair that can be put down really easily in your day pack so you can just take them out when you need them. Our guide to the best trekking poles covers 12 solid options, including buying advice.

trekking poles
The Leki Cressida FX Carbon AS are some of our favourites for their packability on the trail

Cold Water Swimming Gear

If you fancy going for a swim in either Rydal Water or Grasmere as a side to visiting Rydal Caves, then it’s a good idea to make sure you go with the right gear. You don’t need much for swimming, but it’s important to remember that depending on when you go, the water can be very cold.

We would recommend having neoprene swimming boots at least to help keep your feet that little bit warmer, but also for walking over the rocks to get in. Most lakes in this area have a rocky base so it just makes it more comfortable.

A good changing towel is a great buy as well, and can pack down really small into your day pack. We have a whole article on essential gear for cold water swimming that goes into more detail on this and will help you get prepared.

cold water swimming gear
Neoprene boots are a good buy for swimming in the Lake District

Fun Facts About Rydal Caves

Whilst Rydal Caves are nestled away in the hillside and can be hidden from the road as you drive by, one of the things that we love, much like the rest of the Lake District, is that this area is absolutely teeming with life. One of the things that makes the caves most interesting is the fish that you’ll likely (or may not) see in the water there. We’re not entirely sure how they get there, but if you look close enough you may see very small fish. We can’t seem to work out where the inlet is coming to for them, but none the less, it’s an interesting sight!

Its history is also quite interesting too. In the 19th century it was well used as a quarry and is actually man made. You wouldn’t really picture that today, as it looks completely taken back by nature.

It was also not always called Rydal Cave – and was actually called Loughrigg Quarry whilst it was in use for slate mining. If you were also a fan of the TV show ‘The Witcher’ then you may recognise the caves from a scene in series two, episode seven (Voleth Meir) where the character Jaskier takes a bath there!

Can you swim in them? You can, but the water levels can vary throughout the year at Rydal Cave, and depending on the time of year you visit, it may be very low, so we’d not advise it. At certain times it can be enough for a splash around, but for a proper swim, we would recommend either Rydal Water or Grasmere Lake.

Something you may well miss if you don’t know about it is the second (or rather first) smaller cave which is just a bit off from Rydal Caves. It’s about 800 or so metres from the start of the walk if you’re going from Pelter Bridge, and there is a fork in the path not long before the main cave. It’s much smaller than Rydal Cave, but it’s still a cool place to visit.

We’re personally not huge fans of the smaller cave as it can be a bit difficult to get into, especially when it’s been raining because there are some steep step downs. There also aren’t really any views out from it, so it’s more a place to explore than photograph. When you’ve been to the smaller cave once, you likely won’t go back. So, we will usually avoid in favour of the bigger, main cave.

rydal cave at sunset

Tips on How to Take Great Rydal Caves Photos

One of the things about Rydal Caves is that it can be difficult to get good photographs of it. When you’re toward the back of the cave looking out, there is a really big difference in dark and light (the dynamic contrast range) coming from inside and outside the cave. Here are some of our tips to help you get the best photographs of the caves.

Exposing for a High Dynamic Range (HDR)

When you’re stood inside the cave, one of the biggest challenges is the high dynamic range – this is the difference between the highlights (bright light outside) and the shadows (darkness in the cave). If you want to get ‘the shot’ of the cave with the mountains in the background outside the cave, then exposing properly for HDR is going to be your best bet.

Your eye adapts to this a lot more easily than a camera does, and when you are stood in the cave, you’ll be able to see some of the detail in the cave and outside the cave easily. Unfortunately, cameras don’t do that as easily – even your phone won’t do it as well as you’d like. If using a digital SLR, or stand alone camera, you want to expose for the highlights (outside the cave) more so than inside the cave.

This means straight out of camera it will look darker in the shadows – but it is generally easier to pull back detail in the shadows than it is in lost highlights (as there is no information in the image). If you’re using a phone, you can usually adjust the brightness slider when you’re taking a photograph, you want to adjust this so that outside of the cave is correctly exposed, which will have the inside walls of the cave looking darker on the screen.

You will need to do some adjustments to your image afterwards to bring it into a good place. Depending on how you edit your images, either on your phone or computer, this is fairly similar.

You will want to look at pulling up the shadow detail until the detail inside the cave is correctly exposed against the outside. On an iPhone, this is in ‘edit’ when you look at your photo, and you can scroll through the settings that appear at the bottom of the screen.

You can play around here with both the shadows and highlights settings. If you’re editing through something like Lightroom, you’ll need to go into the ‘develop’ tab, and the ‘shadows’ slider is within the basic adjustment tab.

rydal caves near ambleside

Bring a tripod

The caves can be very dark and shutter speeds can become too long to hand hold as a result, with this in mind a tripod is a handy thing to bring with you. It’s also a good way to get a shot of yourself in the cave if you’re on your own or want to get a group shot. If you’re in need of a tripod, you may want to check out our guide to lightweight tripods for hiking.

Wide angles

If you really want to get the overall feel of the cave and also get that iconic shot looking out, you’re going to need a wider angle. If you’re using a digital SLR, a wide lens – something around 18-24 will give you the best shot of the caves. At a push, a standard 24mm will do the job.

If you’re using your phone, opt for the widest lens it has for the shot of the caves. If you don’t have a shorter lens, and depending on your editing skills, you could also look to shoot your images as more of a panorama, and then stitch them together afterwards. We have a whole article on creating panoramas here.

Go at the right time

That iconic shot in the cave can feel like its miles away from you when you get there as there are so many people. However, the best way to get that shot is to either be patient (there will be gaps in the crowds) or to go early in the morning when there are less people there. In the evening mid-week is also often a good shout too.

Look for different views and angles

Whilst there is a pretty iconic shot to be had from right at the back of the cave, there is also a lot more to see in the caves than just this viewpoint. There are some really interesting textures that warrant photographing and your attention too.

Whilst everyone else is focused on getting that iconic shot, it leaves you space to look at what else there is. Spending time doing this also means you’re not just getting that same shot as everyone else, which we always much prefer to do and often leads to the best results.

Conclusion = Are Rydal Caves Worth Visiting?

Whilst the Lake District National Park has some of the most stunning and challenging mountain walks in the United Kingdom, we’re passionate about showing there is so much more on offer than mountains alone. The Lake District has some of the most chocolate box views you could hope to see, and one of the things we love about the Rydal Caves walk (and whichever version you do) is that there are so many incredible views from it.

From the variety of seeing Rydal Water and Grasmere to exploring in Rydal Cave itself, we’re pretty sure you will love it as much as we do. Plus, it’s a great place to take kids – exploring the cave and hearing the echoes will keep them amused for ages.

Rydal Caves also looks straight at local history – and as a manmade cave, it is connected and central to slate mining that was once a key activity in the area. It’s amazing to see how nature has taken it back now. Outside of the caves themselves, the area surrounding has so much to see and do as well.  From enjoying the quaint village of Grasmere, through to some of the other walks in the area like Easedale Tarn, Loughrigg Fell and taking a swim in either Rydal Water or Grasmere Lake.

Rydal Caves can understandably get pretty busy at the weekend and in nice weather, so be sure to plan your visit accordingly – we often find ourselves going on a weeknight evening. So, if you have the flexibility on your side, we’d certainly recommend this.

We’re sure you’ll love Rydal Caves as much as we do and we hope you enjoy exploring more of the Lake District’s beauty!

rydal water light at sunset
Rydal Water lit up toward sunset

FAQ

How long does it take to walk to Rydal Caves?

This will really vary depending on where you park – but if you park at the closest car parks, such as Peter Bridge, White Moss or Rydal Water, we find it roughly takes about 30 minutes or so up to the cave and then similar back down.

Obviously, everyone walks at a different pace, so take this as a very rough estimate and dependent on circumstance! You’ll also want to factor in time to spend at the cave too, especially if its busy.

Where do you park to visit Rydal Caves?

We’ve listed a whole range of car parks for Rydal Caves and their information higher up in this article. However, the most obvious car parks are Peter Bridge Car Park, White Moss Car Park, Rydal Water Car Park or any of the car parks in Grasmere if you want a longer (and beautiful) walk there.

Is Rydal Cave free?

Yes, Rydal Cave is free to visit itself. Obviously, you have to pay for parking, but the Cave itself is open and free 24 hours a day to visit.

Can you swim in Rydal Cave?

You can, yes, but there are better spots locally. In summer, it is likely that the water is a lot lower, so may only be deep enough for paddling. You can’t guarantee that the water levels will be high enough at any time really. If you want to swim, we recommend either Rydal Water or Grasmere Lake instead.

light on a cow in field

How much is the car park at the Rydal Caves?

The car parking really varies, and what we write here is likely to be invalid in a few months’ time as it feels like they’re always putting the prices up! The best thing to assume is you’re going to be paying around 5GBP for a couple of hours and up to 10GBP for a full day, which is in line with a lot of the major car parks in the area. If you park in Ambleside (though a much longer walk) you can often find cheaper parking.

Is Rydal Cave pram friendly?

Of course, we can’t comment first hand on this, as we don’t have a pram, but we would say that Rydal Cave is not suitable for prams or pram friendly at all. We don’t think you’d enjoy (and likely really struggle) with getting the pram up the hillside.

Whilst it’s a short climb up, it is steep and can be muddy with very narrow tracks up. When in the cave it’s quite rocky. If you’re wanting to take really young children, your best option may be to hire a baby backpack from one of the local outdoors shops in Ambleside or depending on where you’re staying, Keswick.

How deep is the water in Rydal Cave?

This can really vary through the year. We’ve seen it be up to ankle height, and sometimes it’s a very shallow pool. A lot depends on rain fall (which we do get our fair share of in the Lake District).

rydal water on a hazy day
Rydal Water looking picturesque on a hazy afternoon

Is Rydal Cave man made?

Yes, Rydal Cave is in fact man made. Whilst it may have been taken back by nature now and looks very much natural as it stands today, it was once used for mining slate that is so prevalent and famous in the area.

Can you walk around Rydal Water?

You can walk around Rydal Water. There is a circular walk which allows you to walk on the shore of Rydal Water on one side, and on the fellside of Nab Scar on the other. This is also known as The Coffin Route that we’ve gone into more detail on above.

The walk is just under 5km/2.8 miles and involves just under 190m/623ft. of ascent and descent. You can start this from the White Moss car park or White Moss Common really easily. Here’s an AllTrails Map for this route. We think this is a really pretty route and well worth adding to your list!

rydal water at sunset in summer

Can you walk around Grasmere?

It is entirely possible to walk the whole way around Grasmere, in fact, it’s something we’d advise as it’s a really lovely walk. The walk sets off from Grasmere village and cuts up the hillside on the other side of the road into the village. It then joins the lake shore for the second half.

So, it’s a really lovely way to see the lake from above and at shore level. Here’s a link to an AllTrails map of the walk – it’s just over5km/3.2 miles with 265m/872 ft. ascent and descent.

Is Loughrigg Fell an easy walk?

Easy is relative. At this point, we’ve hiked up Loughrigg Fell from most of the routes, and they’re all steep. We’d say the route up from Rydal Caves is the least steep, but it’s still steep. There’s also loose gravel which can be a pain on the way down.

We’d say if you’re looking for something of a fell walk to ease you in, it is a good one. However, you may not breeze up it as quickly as you think. So just go prepared and give yourself time to do it.