Grasmere and Rydal Water are two of the loveliest, yet most accessible, lakes in the Lake District.
This popular loop takes the old Coffin Route from Grasmere to Rydal, passing two of the former homes of poet William Wordsworth, before following the shore of both lakes. The route follows good paths but there are some steep ups and downs and short rough sections.
From Grasmere to Rydal
Few villages can have more beautiful surroundings than Grasmere. Encircled by fells and overlooking the peaceful shores of its eponymous lake, it is no surprise that it is a must-visit location for visitors.
To begin the walk follow the B5287 towards the main A591 running through the valley. Cross the main road and follow the lane on the other side of the mini roundabout, which leads directly past Wordsworth Grasmere.
Wordsworth Grasmere comprises the former home of poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy at Dove Cottage, as well as a recently revamped museum. It does a great job of bringing the poet and his sister to life and providing an insight into their work.
Follow the road past the cottage until you reach a crossroads with a wooden sign. Follow the sign, which points towards Alcock Tarn and the Coffin Route. Stay on the tarmac lane, passing another sign which points towards the Coffin Route. The tarmac eventually gives way to a gravel path.
The Coffin Route was traditionally used to carry the dead from Rydal and Ambleside for a Christian burial at St Oswald’s Church, in Grasmere. Walking the route, it is hard not to reflect that the person in the box had it easier than those carrying them, as the path undulates quite steeply at points. En route, you can also spot the large stones which were placed beside the path and used to lay down the casket and give the pallbearers some relief.
The Coffin Route eventually emerges onto a tarmac lane at Rydal Mount. Rydal Mount was another home of William Wordsworth, where he lived with his family from 1813 to 1850.
Turn right where the Coffin Route meets the tarmac and head downhill to the main road. Turn right here and walk beside the road for a short distance before crossing the road to take a footbridge over the river, just by the Badger Bar.
Rydal to Grasmere
Turn right from the bridge and follow a path that leads through the woods and alongside Rydal Water. The path breaks out into the open before coming to White Moss Woods. Here the path splits, with one strand heading through a gate into the woods and another heading uphill by a wall. Both are signposted to Grasmere.
It is better to stay on the path that runs by the wall, which then heads over a little shoulder and drops down to the lakeshore by Grasmere. The views across Grasmere towards Dunmail Raise, Helm Crag, Steel Fell and Seat Sandal are lovely and even better when mirrored in the water on a windless, clear day.
The path is easy to follow (and usually quite busy) and continues alongside the lake before taking a sharp dogleg inland towards the road. At the road, turn right and follow it all the way back to Grasmere.