Grasmere - Ambleside by the Coffin Route, bus stop to bus stop

You need to log in as a member of Walkingworld to access the details for this walk. Join or log in above if you are already a member. Access is available to Walkingworld subscribers or you can buy the walk individually for £1.95 once you are logged in.

Our walk is in Wordsworth country. In his 1798 poem 'The Tables Turned', William Wordsworth exhorts the reader to 'Let Nature be your Teacher'. The surrounding scenery makes it easy to see why he felt this. Another famous Wordsworth line 'I wandered lonely as a cloud' is unlikely to be experienced these days as Wordsworth's own promotion of the area has made it so popular.

This route is known as a 'coffin route' because Ambleside had no church in mediaeval times, so the faithful departed had to be transported elsewhere to be buried in hallowed ground. St Oswald's in Grasmere was the nearest place. Some might wonder why the rather tricky overground route was preferred to the much easier option of taking the coffin by boat to St Martin's at Bowness-on-Windermere. Perhaps the boatmen charged too much. Alternatively, it might have been the 'coffin route' primarily for Rydal. What is now the A591 is a 'turnpike' dating from the late 18th Century. A quick search reveals nothing about what the turnpike charge for a coffin would have been.

The walk starts in the hamlet of Townend, close to Wordsworth's 'Dove Cottage' and the Wordsworth Museum:

The route climbs gently on metalled lanes giving brief glimpses of the surrounding scenery. Walkers will almost certainly outnumber vehicles, so if you like chatting to other walkers, make allowance in calculating the time.

When the metalled lane ceases, the footpath is clear and reasonably smooth except for the short section mentioned elsewhere.

After the short tricky section, the path becomes easy again with good views over Rydal Water and the surrounding hills. This section ends by another of Wordsworth's homes, 'Rydal Mount'. This and the nearby 'Rydal Hall' have tea rooms close to the route, so walkers need not lack refreshment.

Rydal Mount's gardens have personal connections with William Wordsworth, so may be of interest to literary visitors. Rydal Hall's gardens are also of special interest, being designed by T H Mawson, arguably the pre-eminent garden designer of the early 20th Century. Little-known nowadays, this article shows why he doesn't deserve to be neglected.

From the immediate environs of Rydal Hall, the route is literally a 'Walk in the park' as it grades gently downwards towards the gate leading to the A591. The north- and south-bound bus stops are within a few yards of the gate, so there is minimal walking along the busy A591.

England - North England - Cumbria - Lake District - South East


Cafe, Flowers, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Lake/Loch, Museum, Public Transport, Tea Shop, Waterfall, Wildlife, Woodland

Walkingworld members near this walk

Distance away
22.4 Miles
Distance away
Distance away