Grasmere and Rydal
Grasmere is a 'must see' village attracting visitors from all over the world, and justifiably popular as a venue for a self-catering holiday in any season. Beautifully located in the very heart of the National Park the village was once the home of William Wordsworth who lived at Dove Cottage which is open to the public. The Wordsworth family are also buried in the churchyard in the centre of the village.
The village centre is charming with its village green and attractive white-painted cottages, interesting shops and galleries and lots of cafés, tea-shops and hotels serving lunches and evening meals. The village has enough shops for all your everyday needs including a bakery, well stocked grocery store, even a chemist and, of course, there is the famous Grasmere gingerbread to try! The Heaton-Cooper gallery is across the road from the village green with its permanent exhibition of Lakeland paintings by the Heaton-Cooper family and a great choice of prints and originals for sale at all prices.
The Vale of Grasmere abounds in wonderful walks with valley rambles up Easedale and on to Easedale Tarn or the truly delightful Grasmere and Rydal round which takes in the famous 'coffin' route to Rydal and skirts around the shores of both Rydal Water and Grasmere Lakes. Other footpaths take you over the low pass to Elterwater or on a short steep scramble to the top of Helm Crag, known locally as 'The Lion and the Lamb'. Other favourite walks include Silver How and also Loughrigg Fell reckoned by many to offer one of the finest views in Lakeland.
The high summits of Fairfield and even Helvellyn can be started from the village as indeed can the tops of Sergeant Man, and even the Langdale Pikes be reached from the top of the Easedale Valley.
If walking isn't enough you can also enjoy rowing on Grasmere Lake...take a picnic out to the little island at its centre, or maybe ride the open-topped bus to Ambleside before walking back to Grasmere by the country lanes. Touring by car couldn't be easier with Keswick to the north and Ambleside to the immediate south you can explore all parts of the National Park.
Wordsworth said that the Vale of Rydal was, 'The loveliest spot that man hath ever found'.
The tiny hamlet of Rydal lies equidistant between Grasmere and Ambleside and is much loved by Lakeland visitors in all seasons. Wordsworth lived here after his move from Grasmere and his famous home and garden at Rydal Mount is open throughout the year. Rydal Church is well worth a visit and the millennium garden is much appreciated by everyone. A gate from the church garden opens into Dora's Field, which was once bought by Wordsworth for his daughter...come and see the riot of daffodils in spring.
Over the years Rydal has been home to many famous names and in addition to the Wordsworths you can also find the former home of Thomas Arnold of Rugby and the cottage where the Armitt sisters lived. Rydal Hall has a wonderfully restored Mawson garden which is open to the public and there is a good tea shop which is very popular with walkers. With so many walks in the area this must be one of the best locations for 'walks from the door'.
The nine mile Fairfield Horseshoe starts here as does the Rydal Round including the path known as the coffin trail which meanders along the hillside to Grasmere. Rydal Caves are located on the west side of Rydal Water from where you can get onto Loughrigg Terrace and also up Loughrigg Fell. The well-known Glen Rothay Inn and its famous Badger Bar are a focus for walkers with bar meals available and a beer garden where you can rest your weary legs at the end of a busy day.
Two of the finest sporting occasions in the Lakes are held in Rydal every year - the Vale of Rydal Sheepdog Trials draws enthusiasts from all around and if you enjoy 'One man and his dog' this could be for you, whereas Ambleside Sports is a great day out for all the family with everything from fell running, cycle racing, hound trailing, Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, country stalls and the very popular children's races.
With its picturesque setting, delightful Rydal Water and fine mountain scenery Rydal is a perfect place for either a romantic or a family holiday at any time of the year.