Drip, drop, drip, drop. Little drops of water fell silently from the damp roof into the icy pool below. No other sounds could be heard from the eerie interior of Rydal cave. Gingerly we crept over the slippery stepping stones and watched our shadows disappear as we entered the darkness.
Rydal cave lies above Rydal water in the heart of the Lake District. After enjoying a hearty meal finished with a wonderful vegan brownie we decided to venture out in search of bluebells. Little did we know that on our bluebell explorations we would stumble across one the Lake District’s many epic spots – Rydal Cave. Will you want to go on this bluebell and cave walk during your next trip to the Lake district?
Getting to Rydal Cave
Reaching Rydal Cave is easy compared to many walks in the lake district. The cave is located just under a mile from the A591 road. The walk takes ramblers along well-kept paths until there is a short ascent to the mouth of Rydal cave.
You can park your car in White Moss Car Park or Rydal Water car park. Or if you arrive late in the day, like us, you may be able to park in one of the laybys for free.
After parking our little car in a layby close to White Moss Car Park we started on our cave hike. Our legs were wary as we had already hiked the Langdale Pikes earlier that day. Yet as our visit to the lakes was during May, the best time to see bluebells, I was determined we would go on one woodland walk during our stay. After a quick search to find the best bluebell walks in the Lake district, we decided to walk in White Moss Common through the woods and along Rydal water. Rydal cave lies just above Rydal water.
Bluebells in White Moss Woods
We saw plenty of bluebells during our walk.
The forest floor was covered in a carpet of bright bluebells. As far as the eye could see the spring flowers stood proudly in the late afternoon sun. No longer the rich dark blue which the flowers produce when they first appear, but the paler blue petals were still breathtakingly beautiful.
Their short appearance in the UK makes them even more special. I was very pleased we managed to see the beautiful spring bluebells during our visit to the Lake District. It is said that the bluebells on Rannerdale Knotts are also quite spectacular. At Rannerdale the bluebells do not grow in the woods but on the open hillside. Yet as we emerged out of the woodland onto open hillside, we also saw bunches of bluebells on Loughrigg Terrace. Little tufts of blue swayed gently in the wind.
We carried on along a very well-kept path. This path is suitable for wheelchairs as well as buggies meaning that all can enjoy the views of Rydal water and Loughrigg Fell.
After walking for a little while, a small path wound up the hill to our right. Would this lead to a nice viewpoint? Should we leave the nice flat path in favour of this steep one? The path actually led us to the magnificent Rydal cave.
We left the path which runs parallel to Rydal Water and started to go upwards. Our calves and feet groaned at the prospect of more uphill, yet we were determined and ignored minor physical complaints.
It was worth this short steep climb to reach the magnificent Rydal cave. After a few minutes we reached this epic place.
A few other hikers had also made it to this spot. A little girl was hopping over the stepping stones. Others were taking pictures or having a rest after the uphill climb. Yet they did not stay long. Once the other ramblers left, we had the cave to ourselves. Now we could truly appreciate this eerily beautiful landform.
Rydal Cave used to be known as Loughrigg Quarry. Situated on Loughrigg Fell, the cave is a man-made cavern. The cave was hollowed out due to the demand for slate. The slate was carried down the hillside and delivered to the various surrounding villages where it was used for cottage roofs. It was hard to imagine that 200 years ago this was a busy working quarry as it lies so still and dormant now.
Drip, drop, drip, drop. These were the only sounds in Rydal cave now.
Sleeping stepping stones beckon the adventurous explorer to enter the mouth of the cave. Would you dare to step into Rydal Cave?
Whilst most of the stepping stones were stable a few wobbled. Carefully we began to cross the cave pool. Alex easily hopped from stone to stone. I was more cautious. Wearing my sneakers I slowly crossed the cool waters. The stepping stones were a little slippery and a little wobbly. I almost lost my balance on one of the stepping stones. Yet as I was keen to avoid the icy waters I managed to hop onto the next more stable rock. I was very grateful I did not have to walk back down the hill in wet shoes.
Once we were in the cave, we could hear nothing of the outside world. No birds or cars could pierce the oppressive quietness of the cave. Only the occasional drip, drop, drip, drop dared to make a sound.
The stagnant pool which lay so silently on the bed of the cave seemed dead. Yet the waters in Rydal cave contains an array of life. Small fish swim within the waters. They have no predators so swim peacefully in the dark cave. Insects also quietly skim across the pool.
We later discovered that despite the presence of stepping stones, it is advised not to enter the cave. Rocks are known to have fallen from the cave ceiling in the past. There is no sign stating that it is forbidden. Just be aware that you are entering an abandoned quarry. You are venturing into the dark cave at your own risk.
For us it was worth the risk for some epic moody photography.
From inside the cave you look back at the entrance. The quarry men unintentionally carved out a dramatic amphitheatre. The entrance is now framed by jutting angular rocks. Rydal cave has a certain mysterious beauty to it.
After a few moments of enjoying having the place to ourselves we heard the voices of other hikers approaching.
More walkers accompanied with two friendly dogs found their way to the cave. They patiently let us take a few more pics until their furry companions impatiently dived into the waters. Their barks echoed. The canine sounds piercing the eerie silence that had been so oppressive just moments before.
We took one last look at this epic natural wonder and headed back down the hill.
The walk to Rydal cave is not difficult nor particularly long. If you are looking for an easy walk along well-made paths with a fantastic cave this must be one of the Lake District’s finest rambles. Families, couples and elderly alike will enjoy the walk to Rydal Cave. You could even bring a picnic and make a day of exploring.
Just remember that the steeping stones are slippery and entering Rydal Cave is at your own risk. I guess simply watch out for falling rocks and you should be fine. Even if you decide not to enter the cave, the woodland walk amongst the bluebells, the amazing views of Rydal water and the mouth of the jagged cave is worth the hike.
Would you like to visit Rydal Cave?
Hopefully you been inspired to visit the Rydal Cave in the Lake District National park! Do you think this would be a romantic thing to do for adventurous couples in the Lake District? You could combine a trip here with a stop at the incredible Castlerigg Stone Circle which is just 13 miles from Rydal Cave.
Would you like to take photos at this eerie spot? Would you dare to enter the cave? Let us know in the comments below if you would like visit Rydal Cave in the Lake District National Park.