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Apr 07 2014

Discovering the Charm of Grasmere

I was in the Lake District recently, looking for a place to have some R&R (rest and relaxation), and to discover some lesser-known places.  The thing is, it proved to be quite a challenge.  Firstly, I was limited with where I could go because I didn’t have my car to get around and the Honister Rambler bus, which runs to some of those hard to reach places, wasn’t due to restart for a couple of weeks.  Secondly, although it was low season, it happened to be a busy weekend in the Lake District, so trying to find accommodation with my requirements was a challenge.  I was looking for something that was within my price range, accessible with public transport, close to a village, as well as being relaxing and not too isolated.  I had initially ruled out Grasmere, thinking it would be too touristy.  However, having scoured the Internet in search of accommodation, I managed to find what I was looking for on the outskirts of Grasmere Village, so that’s where I ended up.

Grasmere - Swan Lane

 

It turned out to be the perfect place to spend a few days because of its peaceful surroundings and close proximity to the village.  That gave me the best of both worlds.  I popped into the village every day.  It is touristy, there’s no denying that, but I can understand why William Wordsworth described it as, ‘The fairest place on Earth.’  It’s a charming village; it’s very pretty, especially in springtime with all the daffodils,  it’s surrounded by rolling hills and green fields with grazing sheep, but there is so much more.

The Gingerbread Shop

The smell of freshly-baked gingerbread wafting out of Sarah Nelson’s teeny, weeny gingerbread shop certainly draws you in.  I’m not exaggerating; it is minute, but it’s worth squeezing in to get hold of some of that morish gingerbread.  You can buy other things, but I was there just for the gingerbread, like so many people.  I bought a piece shaped like a flower.  I just couldn’t resist.

Grasmere gingerbread

Wordsworth Daffodil Garden

I loved this garden, especially as I was there in springtime when all the beautiful ‘golden’ daffodils were in full bloom.  But more so because, just as you enter, the first stanza of one of Wordsworth’s most famous poems is engraved into a large concrete slab…

Grasmere - Wordsworth Daf Garden

I lingered at the entrance, staring at those words.  It was weird because, for the first time in my life, I really connected with the poem.  It wasn’t just because I was in Grasmere, although I’m sure it helped.  It’s kind of how I am.  I wander around on my own, alone rather than lonely and, just to clarify, I’m one of those nice white, fluffy clouds, not a grey rain cloud.  The golden daffodils are my family and friends and, of course, the fab people I meet on my travels.  See, it was practically written for me.  OK, maybe not, but you get what I’m saying, right?

If you are lucky enough to have a perfect spring day, as I had, it’s pleasant to stroll through the garden and gaze at all those wonderful daffodils, swaying in the breeze and wonder who all those people listed on the 3000 stones are or were.  If you fancy it, you can sponsor one of those wild daffodils and have your or a loved one’s name recorded in the Book of Friends in the church.

St Oswald’s Church

The church in Grasmere Village was named after King Oswald of Northumbria, who originally founded a church on or near it in 642.  The present church dates back to the 14th Century.

William Wordsworth and his family frequented the church, being as it was their local one.  Wordsworth even planted eight yew trees in the grounds.  This is where he, his family, and others who were close him were laid to rest.

Grasmere church

A Riverside Walk

You can really make the most of the tranquil setting and go for a relaxing stroll along the riverbank during the day or in the evening.  It’s only a short walk, but a pleasant one.

Grasmere - riverside

Allan Bank

Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to visit the house or wander around the grounds.  It’s top of my list for my next visit to Grasmere.  I’m especially interested in the late morning talks I read about on the National Trust’s website.  It’s a way of finding out more about people, history, and wildlife at Allan Bank and Grasmere as a whole.

Grasmere - Allan Bank

Grasmere Lake

Not only does this village have the River Rothay running through it, it also has a lake – Grasmere Lake.  It might be one of the smaller ones in the Lake District, but I’m sure you’ll agree that it is beautiful.  It took me a while to find it but, when I did, I took my time, walking slowly, watching the ducks playing while listening to the water lapping on the shore.

Walks and Hikes 

There are plenty of walks and hikes that begin in the village.  I did two of these: the Easedale hike, which begins on Easedale Road, and a gentle walk to Grasmere Lake and Rydal Water.  You can check on the National Trust website for other walks or you could pop into the National Trust shop in the village.

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A Vegetarian Hotel

I wasn’t expecting to find a vegetarian restaurant in the village, so I was really happy when I found out that there was, indeed, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant.  I have to thank my hotel manager for that because I hadn’t even bothered searching online, thinking it was unlikely.  That’s taught me a lesson.  I will always check now and stop making assumptions.  There are actually quite a few places that offer vegetarian and vegan options in this charming village, but this has a full vegetarian menu.

Apart from all the delicious veggie food to choose from and marvellous surroundings, there is so much history attached to the Lancrigg Vegetarian Country House Hotel, which was once a farmhouse.  Wordsworth, unsurprisingly, had a hand in it as he acted as an agent for a friend of his who bought it.  He is, in fact, ever-present in Grasmere Village.

The evening before I left, I went for a pre-dinner walk around the woods of Lancrigg.  I had no idea at the time that this was yet another place that inspired Wordsworth to write, although I can understand why.  I was physically tired after a particularly active week, but I soon perked up when I stumbled upon some deer roaming around the woods.

Grasmere deer

Location

You can find some of the locations mentioned in this post on this map.

Have your say

Have you followed in William Wordsworth’s footsteps and visited Grasmere?  If so, what was your experience of it?  If not, would you be interested in visiting?

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

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