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Rydal Boathouse


Spring Colour at Rydal.

Rydal boathouse on a misty Spring morning with beautiful morning light.

Tucked away on the Eastern side of Rydal Water lies in my opinion, one of the Lake Districts most photogenic locations; Rydal Water Boathouse! It’s well known, that in most circumstances; the best locations are often the hardest to get to but this place certainly marks the exception! Parking is a little harder than it used to be but if you’re ok with pay and display, there is a car park located within a 10 minute walk of this location!

When To Shoot.

Although you could argue that this location can work all year round, it’s definitely a scene that works best in the ‘transition periods’ of the year; Spring and Autumn! In the late months of Spring, you’ll find the foliage surrounding the boathouse covered in beautiful blooms of luminous greens and in the late Autumn months, you’ll find vibrant reds, yellow and oranges!

The most favourable time of day to shoot is definitely in the morning. Not only are you more likely to get calm reflections and even the odd spot of mist but with the sun rising towards the South-East, you’ll be given absolutely stunning side light. That’s if the cloud cover is favourable of course! For these reasons, I’m going to say something which isn’t usually heard of within the landscape photography community and that is that clear skies can actually work for you when shooting here! 

You see, this location usually works better when you use longer focal lengths and make the decision not to include any of the sky. So, it doesn’t really matter if the sky is a boring sea of blue. In fact, the less cloud cover, the less chance of the light being blocked! 

Be on the lookout for high pressure in the weather forecast. This usually means clear skies, low winds and day time/night time temperature differences. The latter point is very important if you’re wanting the presence of mist in your shot. With warmer temperatures in the day and colder temperatures through the night, this increases the chances of high humidity levels. I use a weather app called where you can check all of these weather states in a very detailed forecast! Check out an article I wrote for more information on how to use this fantastic app! 

Rydal Boathouse Autumn reflections.

Autumn Colour at Rydal.

Autumn colours reflecting in Rydal Water on a calm morning.

Rydal Water Boathouse in the Lake Distri

Roadside View of Boathouse

The view of the boathouse taken from the roadside view on a fresh Spring morning.

Foreground rocks on a misty Spring morni

Composition/technique Tips.

You can shoot this location from two different vantage points. Your first option is from the roadside on the Northern part of the lake (image above) and your second option is over on the other side, looking back towards the road. Both sides have good potential but in my opinion, to take advantage of the stunning sidelight you get in the Spring/Autumn months, you really want to be on the side looking towards the road! 

Focal length is quite an important consideration when shooting here. If you’re shooting from the opposite side to the main road, you’ll be quite some distance away from the boathouse. This means that using ultra wide focal lengths will render the main focal point (boathouse) as small and insignificant in your frame. Using longer focal lengths will help to bring your subject to life, allowing the boathouse to stand out and play an important part within your composition! Using a telephoto lens and creating a vertical panorama can also give you fantastic results! 

There are a few bits of foreground interest to work with here but for the main part, the boathouse and small island to the left are going to be your main focal point. From a technical standpoint, it’s all pretty straightforward; compress your scene and lose the sky, manual focus f/11 etc, expose to the right of your histogram making sure not to blow any highlights and away you go. The most important factor at play is going to be the weather! I had many attempts at this location prior to getting the image I wanted at the top of this page. In fact, it took around 4 years of attempts waiting for the perfect conditions! There will be many occasions where you find you have the perfect forecast but just one little thing will be off. Be it the disappointing lack of mist or even too much of it or the light not burning through. All I can say is to just keep on trying and don’t settle for anything that is less than what you’re visualising. Eventually, you’ll end up with what you want and it will be a memory worth far more than the photograph itself! 

Foreground Interest Looking Towards The Island & Boathouse.

A small outcrop of rocks and reeds on the lake shoreline with the island and boathouse peeping through the mist in the background.

how to get here

Nearest postcode for car park: LA22 9LR

Rydal Water is probably one of the easiest locations to actually drive to. It’s located near the hamlet of Rydal between Ambleside and Grasmere and it’s all pretty much main A roads to get to location. The problem lies with parking. Up until recently, there were numerous places dotted around the lake where you could park for free. That was until the landowners decided to ban anyone from parking in the lay-bys dotted around the White Moss area. Instead, you now have to pay the extortionate prices of the private car parks that the landowners own. There’s a lot of debate on the people who own this land and whether their practises are ethical so far as the landscape is concerned but I shall leave that to your own judgement. 

Alternately, I would recommend using a small pay & display car park owned by the Lake District National Park Authority (Pelter Bridge) located about a 10 minute walk West of the lake. 

Take a left out of the car park and then take your first right down a footpath that will lead you towards the River Rothay. Then you’ll want to take the path left, heading towards the lake. You’ll then go through a small woodland and not long the view over towards the boathouse will present itself to you! 

Rydal Water Boathouse Map
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