Whilst Grasmere was beautiful – and on an ordinary day, I would happily have waited two hours for the gingerbread shop to open – we decided to make the most of the sunny weather (and our limited time) and hike back to Ambleside. After all, what’s a trip to the Lakes without going on at least one walk? Fortunately, the Lake District offers walks for people of every age, ability and interest – and it was easy to find one to suit our needs. If you missed my two previous posts about our weekend in the Lake District, you can find them here and here.
Leaving the centre of Grasmere behind, we turned out of the village on Red Bank Road, a twisty country lane lined with dry-stone walls which snaked towards Grasmere Lake (part of the River Rothay).
Walking up Red Bank Road, we passed some chocolate-box cottages, before the road began to descend again and we finally noticed the riverside path. Lesson learnt: have faith in your destination; we thought we’d walked too far and turned back to check, only to realise we just needed to keep going round the bend! The view of the mountains set against the lake from Grasmere Lakeshore was spectacular, and if that wasn’t enough, the clear blue skies dotted with clouds provided beautiful reflections across the lake.
The path is well-maintained (by the National Trust), and as such means this walk is popular with photographers, walkers and wanderers alike. Along the shoreline, there were several well-camouflaged fishermen (we even saw one catch something!) and – for once – the geese we encountered didn’t try to chase us away.
Continuing along the path, we passed through Deerbolts Woods, an expanse of woodland belonging to the High Close Estate and also maintained by the National Trust. In the woods, you can either stick to the main path, or walk right along the shoreline of the lake; we opted for the latter.
Re-joining the main path, we noticed this strange skeleton on the ground – any suggestions for what it might be?!
At this point, we reached the large gravelly beach – for want of a better word – at the southern edge of Grasmere Lake. Besides the avid – and amateur – photographers, there were plenty of walkers picnicking on the grassy slope, and dogs splashing about in the shallows.
From here, we decided to continue on towards Rydal, taking the lower route which skirts the River Rothay, as opposed to the higher route which leads to Rydal Caves. Crossing the bridge, we entered Penny Rock Woods; from here it’s a further 3 miles to Ambleside. Once through the woods, we decided to walk around the southern side of Rydal Water (again, part of the River Rothay), as this route seemed more peaceful.
The fells surrounding Rydal Water looked worth exploring, though for this visit we had to content ourselves with a ground-level view of the surrounding area. The water was unbelievably clear – though the patrolling swans rather put me off venturing too close!
At this point, signposting went a bit array, and being without a map (not recommended, but we hadn’t really planned this walk in advance!) we weren’t entirely sure which way to go. Luckily for us, help was at hand in the form of an older couple armed with an OS Explorer map of the area! Apparently, the pedestrian bridge across to Rydal had been washed away during Storm Desmond, back in December 2015. They recommended that we walked through the next wooded field, and then turned up towards a country lane, turned left and crossed at the next stone bridge. Following their advice, we headed off into the next field and were greeted with the sight of some adorable fluffy grey sheep!
Although we were told we could take an alternative (and more scenic route) back to Ambleside, upon reaching the stone bridge we decided to simply head back along the main road, as time was not on our side. As we approached Ambleside from the north, Lake Windermere came into view and it wasn’t long before we reached the small town centre. Coming into the town from this direction, we saw Bridge House, a relic from the 17th century.
Now owned by the National Trust, this curious structure was built centuries ago by a wealthy family, who needed to access their lands on the other side of the beck and used the building to store their apples. Since then, it has been a weaving shop, tea room and a cobbler’s, amongst other things. I firmly believe the National Trust should try and open it to the public, as I’d love to venture inside this characterful building!
We then decided to make the most of the sunny weather and pay a visit to the neighbouring Apple Pie Café to pick up some traditional Ambleside gingerbread and a bite to eat for lunch. We followed this up with a wander around the village (and a mint chocolate chip ice cream) before catching the Go Lakes 555 bus back to Kendal, where we explored the remains of Kendal Castle before heading back to Leeds.