“ Address: Rydal Mount / Ambleside LA22 9LU / Lake District / Tel: 015394 33002 „
When I was considerably younger than I am now, we would go on holidays and day trips to the Lakes on a fairly regular basis. Whether it was to see family or just too generally have a drive around and look at the scenery. The one thing that's really stuck in my mind was my dad reciting William Wordsworth's "Wondered Lonely as a Cloud" on just about every visit to the Lakes and particular every time we went to Grasmere or Ambleside. As a result on our recent visit to the Lakes my wife and I opted for a visit to Rydal Mount, the home of Wordsworth and his family between 1813 and his death in 1850.
The majority of Wordsworth's live was spent in and around the Lakes and the location of Rydal Mount couldn't be any more central. It is located on the main A59 between Windermere and Keswick. The address for the house is an Ambleside address and the house is situated on the hill side on the right hand side just after you leave Ambleside heading towards Grasmere and Keswick. Just outside the House is a free parking area for about 10 cars, which during our off season visit was fine; however at busy periods I would imagine fills up very quickly. There is additional parking down the hill beside the church, but again at peak season I believe this would be very busy.
The cost of our entry fee was included on the Freedom of the Lakes pass we had purchased prior to our visit. Had we not bought the passes before our visit however it would have cost us £6.50 each to get entry to the House and the Gardens. There is also an option for entry to the Gardens only, which works out at £4. There is a concession for seniors & students for entry to the house, which saves £1 and the costs for Children aged 5 - 15 is £3.00 with no reductions to visit just the Gardens. We took the opportunity to gain entry to both the Gardens and the House and with the level of detail and information on display it worked out to be both interesting and value for money.
From the 1st March to 31st October the House and Grounds are open from 9.30am to 5pm everyday, however in November, December and February the opening times are reduced to 11am to 4pm on a Wednesday to a Sunday. The House and its Gardens are closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and throughout January.
The house itself wasn't built especially for Wordsworth, in-fact it dates back to 1574, although the main body of the house was built in 1750. Once the Wordsworth family moved into the house in 1813 and he redesigned elements of the house over the preceding years to the layout you still see today. The family moved out of the house in 1859, before his great, great Granddaughter bought the property in 1969 and turned it into the tourist attraction it is today in 1970. The house is still in the ownership of the family and they regularly use the small private areas of the house to stay in when they visit the Lake District.
Having passed through the entrance the 4 acres of gardens are laid out before you. They very much laid out in the design that Wordsworth devoted so much time to create. The gardens are made up of Fell side terraces and cover a decent portion of the hill side around Rydal Mount, creating a very peaceful setting. In season there are daffodils, bluebells and spectacular rhododendron bushes to be seen. With the picturesque cottage in the middle of a very pleasant and well throughout garden it certainly makes you feel like you're a million miles away from everything.
The views from the garden are just as impressive and the combination of the Landscaping and views make Rydal Mount a very interesting and pleasant visit even if you are just in the Gardens. There are seats throughout the garden to enable you to sit and enjoy the peaceful surroundings and although the £4 entry to just the gardens may seem a little high; I would suggest that the views, the atmosphere and the surroundings actually make it good value for money.
It's the Cottage element of Rydal Mount that impressed us the most and considering it only costs £2.50 more than the gardens it makes it fantastic value for money. Upon entry you are taken into the Dining Room and a member of staff explains the history of the Cottage and the alterations Wordsworth made, such as moving the study into the attic. This was a nice touch and gave the whole visit a more personal feel; we found that with the introduction it made the rest of the visit far more enjoyable.
Each room within the house has paintings, furniture and letters belonging to the family and Wordsworth himself. The inside of the house has remained very traditional and I think the attraction really benefits from this. With the mixture of the original 15th Centaury flagged floor and supporting beams mixed with the additions from 1750 work really well. The attraction provides an excellent history behind the man whose poetry has really captured the spirit of the Lakes.
Everything within the house is interesting from the study with the family tree on the top floor down to the original features within the dining room. It makes for a really well thought-out and presented attraction that really does provide you with value for your entrance fee.
Café, Shop and Facilities
There is a very small coffee shop on site with homemade cakes and fair trade drinks, which is open only during the summer season. We visited Rydal in the afternoon and didn't make use of the Café, however the cakes looked nice and the prices, given its central Lakes location were pretty reasonable. This, along with a very small shop were located in the old Saddlery, however other than a small selection of local guides and products the shop didn't really offer much by way of souvenirs, however we weren't really looking to buy anything anyway.
Worth a Visit
From our week in the Lakes both my wife and I agreed that this was one of the best attractions we visited. The location is quiet and really quite peaceful and the attraction itself has a large amount of information and history for a building this size. We spent a good 2 hours at the attraction and had it not started raining, would easily have stayed longer within the gardens. It's an attraction that blends the modern appearance of the garden, still very much to Wordsworth's design, with the history of one of the Lakes most famous writers.
It's an area that really seems to inspire the creativity of writers and this is an attraction that lets you see the history behind some of the regions most famous writing. Apart from the parking during the peak season there is nothing negative you can really say about Rydal Mount. The family own the property and use the money raised to keep alive the heritage and history of their famous relative. It's a nice touch and like the family element at Muncaster Castle it really adds to the positive nature of the attraction. I'd really recommend a visit to Rydal Mount to anyone with an interest in literature, the Lakes or Wordsworth as it really combines the 3 element well.