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Hiking route

Patterdale to Ambleside

Hiking route · United Kingdom
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  • Grisdale Valley.
    Grisdale Valley.
    Photo: Anna Wren, Macs Adventure
A steady climb up to Grisdale Tarn, descending by Tongue Gill to Grasmere. Then a pleasant meander through fields and parkland into Ambleside.
Distance 18.9 km
5:30 h
522 m
605 m
421 m
52 m
From Patterdale you follow the Grisdale valley, with Helvellyn looming large on your right, up to the tarn above. At the summit cairn you descend by Tongue Gill down to the valley of the River Rothey, leading to the tourist honey pot of Grasmere. From here you follow in Wordsworth's footsteps above Rydal Water along the Coffin Route to finish in Ambleside.

Author’s recommendation

There is a real sense of achievement on the ascent into Grisdale, looking back from the corrie summit towards the tarn and the isolated and glaciated valley below. This is a marked contrast to the walk through Grasmere and Rydal which you will share with more people than you have probably seen on the walk all week!
Profile picture of Iain Grant
Iain Grant
Update: October 08, 2017
Highest point
421 m
Lowest point
52 m
Best time of year

Track types

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Safety information

Some of the sections in Grisdale are rocky and can be slippery in wet weather. A number of the streams seem to follow the path at times. Care is needed crossing the main roads, especially in the busy tourist area of Grasmere.

Tips and hints

There is a shop and post office in Patterdale for food & drink, but then nothing else until Grasmere, which has a wide choice of cafes, pubs, shops and restaurants. There is also a coffee shop at Rydal Hall en-route.

Points of Interest 

Wordsworth Museum & Dove Cottage.

Dove Cottage was Wordsworth's home from 1799-1808 and where he wrote much of his poetry. The Museum has one of the largest collections of manuscripts, books and paintings relating to British Romanticism.

Rydal Hall.

Once the home of the Fleming family, the hall is now a conference and study centre.  Red Squirrels can be seen in the surroundings woods and the waterfalls were described by Wordsworth in some of his works.

Coffin Route & Resting Stone.

 The path used to carry the deceased of Rydal & Ambleside to St Oswald's Church in Grasmere. The Resting Stone can the found in the lane shortly after passing Dove Cottage.



St Patrick's Church Patterdale. (148 m)
OS Grid
NY 39289 16138
54.536859, -2.939787
54°32'12.7"N 2°56'23.2"W
30U 503895 6043257


Tourist Information Centre Ambleside.

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00km - Standing with your back to the main entrance of St Patrick's Church, TURN LEFT and walk along the main tarmac road past the Mountain Rescue Centre.

0.25km - At the red post box in the wall TURN LEFT up the tarmac lane signposted to Grisdale. Carry STRAIGHT ON for several kms with the river on your right as the tarmac changes to gravel and then a stoney path.

4.60km - Crossing a wooden footbridge go STRAIGHT ON up the path. Do not cross a second footbridge, but keep the river to your right.

5.00km - At Ruthwaite Hut BEAR LEFT and past a pile of stones, (cairn) following the path for another 1.5kms. Aim for the left side of the tarn, crossing over a stream by stepping stones. Continue on the path up to the summit cairn. ( Do not rely on the hut to provide shelter in bad weather as it is generally locked).

7.10km - From the cairn descend STRAIGHT ON into the the V shaped valley below with the stream on your right. This is a prominent path easily seen from above.

9.40km - By a stone wall BEAR RIGHT on the lower path, down to the stream and cross the footbridge and then BEAR LEFT over the ford. Follow the bridleway all the way down to the main road.

10.50km - Cross the main road and stone bridge then BEAR LEFT following the lane all the way to another junction. TURN LEFT and over another bridge and join the gravel footpath signposted Grasmere. Carry on the footpath eventually emerging out of the park gates down the lane to Grasmere.

12.30km - At the crossroads go STRAIGHT ON passing the church and car park, remaining on Stocks Road until the roundabout.

13.40km - At the roundabout BEAR RIGHT and into the tarmac lane, passing the Wordsworth Museum and Dove Cottage. Continue STRAIGHT ON up the lane to How Top Cottage.

13.80km - On the bend, BEAR LEFT up the hill and follow the signs for the Coffin Route to Rydal. Remain on the higher path for some distance (approximately 2.5kms), until a junction at a lane.

16.20km - At the lane, TURN RIGHT onto the concrete surface then TURN LEFT at the footpath sign for Ambleside.  Passing through the grounds of Rydal Hall BEAR RIGHT past the tea room and over the bridge and continue STRAIGHT ON to reach the main road. TURN LEFT and follow the pavement for approximately 2.5kms into Ambleside.

18.90km - Arriving at the Tourist Information Centre you have reached the end of the walk.


OS Grid
NY 39289 16138
54.536859, -2.939787
54°32'12.7"N 2°56'23.2"W
30U 503895 6043257
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


Boots, waterproof clothing and extra layers are essential for the section over Grisdale. Walking poles may be preferred on the rocky paths and descents.

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18.9 km
5:30 h
522 m
605 m
Highest point
421 m
Lowest point
52 m
Scenic Refreshment stops available Cultural/historical interest Linear route Geological highlights


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