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Rydal Water

Rydal Water, which once was known as Rothay Water as the River Rothay flows through it, has been described as a jewel in the heart of the lakes, and yet it is often passed quickly on the road, scarcely noticed, around two or three miles north of Ambleside on the road to Keswick. The lake stretches from east to west on the southern side of the road as it twists between the hills on its northerly passage toward Grasmere. Less than half a mile of the River Rothay separates the two lakes.

A Heaton Cooper - Sunset, Rydal Water
Sunset, Rydal Water
by A. Heaton Cooper

Those who do not pass it by find one of the beautiful settings which so stimulated the Lake Poets. Alfred Heaton Cooper captured much of the atmosphere of a Rydal Water sunset in the painting shown here.

Wordsworth lived for over forty years at Rydal Mount, and Thomas de Quincey occupied nearby Nab Cottage for several years. Up above the lake, on the hillside, is Wordsworth's Seat, a spectacular viewing point, while on the south side is Rydal Cave, a product of old slate workings on the north-facing side of Loughrigg Fell.

Rydal Hall is near the lake, the present 19th century mansion being based around a much earlier building, and although the house is used as a conference and retreat centre by the Church of England Diocese of Carlisle the gardens are open for public viewing (and there's a tea shop). Rydal Hall was the home of the Le Flemings, a leading Westmorland family which included an eighteenth century Bishop of Carlisle; they previously resided at Coniston Hall.

Rydal Water is one of the smallest of the Cumbrian lakes at less than a mile long and only about a quarter of a mile across at its widest point, but lack of size does not detract from the beauty. Apart from the traffic along the eastern shore road it is a peaceful place. No boating is allowed on the water. For fishing permits contact a local tourist information office.


 

 

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