Rydal Caves is one of the top places to visit in the Lake District, especially for families with children because this cave and walk will keep them entertained!
Located not far from Ambleside and Lake Windermere is a hidden gem of the Lake District – Rydal Caves! What’s best about this cave is there are many ways to visit Rydal Cave and do the Rydal Caves walk meaning you can turn the outing into what you want, short and sweet or long and hilly!
And, because this is part of the nature of the Lake District, it is one of the free things to do in the Lake District (aside from the parking fee).
What I also loved about visiting here is that a walk is needed to get to the cave along with some planning no matter where you start, and whilst it still gets busy, especially in the summer and on weekends this does help reduce the crowds in comparison to easy places to visit like Lake Windermere.
In this Lake District travel blog, I’m going to help you out on how to get to Rydal Cave and do the Rydal Caves Walk in a number of ways because I loved finding this gem in the Lake District and one of the top attractions in the Lake District.
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Is Rydal Cave Worth Visiting?
Yes! Whether you have children who want to spend some time in the cave playing and exploring, or you just want to see the cave and keep moving, Rydal Cave is worth visiting!
When I visited, it was just my husband and I, we were looking for a circular walk in the Lake District we hadn’t done before and through AllTrails we found Rydal Caves and a circular walk along Loughrigg Fell.
We visited on a Sunday in late summer so the cave was pretty busy as you can see from my photos but for us, this was okay, we went in, saw it and then continued our walk which took us over the top of the cave and up Loughrigg Fell giving us amazing views of 3 different lakes on the way before finishing.
When we return with my stepsons, we’d probably spend longer in and around the cave and then do a shorter walk and even have a swim in the river because you go can swimming near Rydal Caves too.. more on that below!
Is Rydal Cave natural?
It is worth noting that Rydal Cave is not a natural cave. It is man-made as a result of slate quarrying. 200 years ago it was supplying roofing slate to nearby villages!
How to Get to Rydal Cave
There are a few different ways to get to Rydal Caves and do the Rydal Caves walk. The main thing to note is that a walk of around 15-20 minutes along a footpath is required from wherever you park to get there.
You can’t park up and visit the cave straight away.
Rydal Cave Car Park
These are 3 close car parks to Rydal Cave.
From either of the car parks, follow your map on Google map which will show you the footpath, or look for signs to the cave.
From White Moss Car Park and Rydal Water Car Park, you’ll need to go along the River Rothay slightly, then cross a bridge and through White Moss Woods a bit but it is marked by signs and can be easily followed via Google Maps.
When doing the walk to Rydal Caves, you might find the path splits up in sections but it will meet back up to take you on the final path to Rydal Caves. As long as you keep Rydal Water to the side of you and don’t veer too high up onto the fell, you are going the right way!
Depending on which way you arrive at Rydal Caves will depend on how to get here, however, it’s likely you’ll have to pass through Windermere and along Windermere Lake to get to Rydal Cave. In the summer, this road gets busy so keep this in mind when planning your Lake District day out!
Rydal is the closest village to Rydal Cave and the closest car park to the footpath of the walk is Pelter Bridge Car Park so if you’re looking to park in Rydal you can park here, or find parking elsewhere in the village and walk from there.
On the other side of Rydal Water Lake, you’ll find White Moss Car Park and Rydal Water Car Park pretty close together. There is no village here.
These car parks are not particularly big and do get very busy in summer, especially on weekends so you may need to visit more than one to get a space or wait for a while.
Make sure you look out for details on how to pay for parking at these Rydal Cave car parks.
Rydal Cave Map
Here is a map with the above car parks detailed and more places to visit near Rydal Caves mentioned in this post.
Are you allowed inside Rydal Cave?
Yes, visitors are allowed in, although this is a man-made cave, it is a natural attraction in the Lake District with no ticketing.
I visited at the end of summer and people were paddling in the water, especially children and others took their dog inside. There were some stepping stones which helped avoid the deeper water for people not wanting wet shoes and as you got to the back of the cave there was sand without water to stand on.
I imagine in winter the cave fills with more water so it might not be possible to go inside without appropriate footwear.
Rydal Caves Walk
I’d say Rydal Cave is one of the easy walks in the Lake District (you can see more of my suggested easy Lake District walks here!). When I visited the cave was pretty busy and people were there with babies and young children who had walked the 15-20 minute footpath to from where they parked to get to the cave.
Rydal Caves Walking Route
As detailed above, getting to Rydal Caves is just a 15-20 minute walk from one of the three car parks, mainly along a narrow footpath.
We decided to do a full Circular Walk that I found on AllTrails which included Loughrigg Fell too and gave us amazing views over Rydal Water, Lake Windermere and Grasmere.
This circular Rydal Caves walk was challenging with some steep inclines but none of them were too long or too steep. We saw a few families and children doing the hike too showing that whilst it’s challenging, it’s not technical.
From White Moss or Rydal Water Car Park to Rydal Caves
I parked in White Moss Car Park so I’ll detail how to get to Rydal Caves from White Moss but the same applies from Rydal Waters Car Park.
To start with, venture out of the car park along the path of the River Rothay. This is the spot that is great for river swimming if you are looking for wild swimming spots in the Lake District.
Then, cross the bridge that takes you into Whit Moss Woods.
After walking through the woods for a few minutes you’ll see a gate leading onto a field on the left and signs for Rydal Caves.
This footpath splits off a bit but meets back up to follow one footpath all the way to Rydal Cave after about 10 minutes of walking.
Photos of how to get to Rydal Caves:
Rydal Caves Circular Route
As mentioned, our main reason for this walk was a bigger circular walk which took us up to Loughrigg Fell and I really recommend this walk.
It was steep in places but not overly hard at 2.9 miles / 4.3 KM with an elevation gain of 311m and offered incredible views over Rydal Water, Lake Windermere and Grasmere.
This is the route of the walk which can be followed on AllTrails here.
From Rydal Caves, there are no more signs so you need to follow the trail. We visited Rydal Caves first and then walked up the side of the cave which led us to the very top of the cave and continued the trail up.
The trail reaches a few peaks with one offering great views over Lake Windermere, but the main peak is Loughrigg Fell where you’ll see a stone to indicate you’re at the top.
From here we walked down with views of Grasmere Lake all the way down which was beautiful.
Places to Visit near Rydal Caves
To turn this into a full day out you can visit more places nearby.
Close to the village of Rydal are stepping stones over the River Rothay which always offers a good photo opportunity and fun for kids.
If you are a fan of watersports and have your own kayak or paddleboard you can put in the car. I saw many people paddleboarding and kayaking on the lakes. They’d parked at White Moss Car Park. I don’t believe you can rent them from here though.
Nearby Lake Windermere offers lots of things to do and is especially good for families because of its ease. You can do a boat trip or hire a boat and sail yourself. If you fancy another walk you can do the Orrest Head Walk.
Rydal Caves Swimming
Finally, if wild swimming is your thing or something you’ve wanted to try out. Very close to White Moss Car Park and Rydal Water Car Park is this spot where you can swim in the River Rothay.
There’s a nice grass area to relax on too when the weather allows.
There are no changing or bathroom facilities nearby though.
I hope this post has helped you visit Rydal Cave and do the Rydal Caves walk!
- For more of my Lake District and North West England posts see:
- 10 Easy Lake District Walks! Beginner, Short, Flat and Circular Walks!
- Full Lake District Day Trip! How to Spend 1 Day in the Lake District!
- 6 Places To Stay On Your Lake District Staycation!
- 23+ Fun Family Days Out NEAR Manchester!
- 22+ GREAT Day Trips From Manchester!