There is an old Grasmere saying “It always rains on sports day” and quite often it does, however this year was different. I always draw back the curtain on Sports day morning with trepidation to see what the weather is like. This year I was greeted with early morning sunshine, and the promise of a beautiful day.
Visitors had arrived from Scotland, they had visited the Sports before but never seen it on a sunny day. We set off early as we wanted to see the Sea King Helicopter arriving on the field. These are the helicopters you see in the Lake District helping the Mountain Rescue teams.
It flew over the sports field and circled several times before coming in to land.
It stayed on the field for quite some time and people enjoyed getting up close to it. Later in the day it did a simulated rescue with Langdale and Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team.
Previously in this blog I have written about the history of Grasmere Sports, and also about the different sporting events, but there is another part to the day. It is a family event with fun for everyone. This was obvious by the amount of competitors in the children’s races. Maybe we were watching the Fell Runners of the future.
And you can’t have a good sports day without the old favourites like the sack race.
Meanwhile , the four legged members of the family were having their own event.
On another part of the field there was Juggling fun. Think the parents were enjoying it as much as the children!.
But for me the highlight of the day was the tug of war. After various bouts it was decided to have a Vegetarians versus meat eaters event. The Vegetarians won!
Around the field, more entertainment in the form of Grasmere’s own storyteller Taffy Thomas, a Herdy Knitalong, stalls from Made in Cumbria, featuring among others the very talented Lake District photographer Nina Claridge. There was also an interesting Tea Company based in the Lake District called New Leaf Tea Tasters. As anyone who knows me knows, I love tea, but I bought something i’d never seen before. A China green tea called Tiger Leaping Flower Burst. Look away now anyone who knows me as you may be getting it for Christmas. You put the tea ball in boiling water and …..
As the name says, it turns into a flower. Tastes good too. Time for a last look around the stalls before concentrating on the events.
We liked this little display by The Arthur Ransome Society. Good to see the Wordsworth Trust and Windermere Reflections there too.
Meanwhile up on the fellside LAMRT and the Sea king helicopter were in action again.
One of the most popular events is the Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling.
However my favourite has to be the senior guide race.
To see the runners stream up Butter Crags really is one of the most amazing sights.
The atmosphere in the sports field is unbelievable.
It is a real feat of athleticism and has to be seen to be believed.
And first over the line for the 9th time in a row …… Rob Jebb.
The race between second and third place was incredible and all credit should go to both Simon Bailey and Sam Tosh. Fantastic stuff1
And let’s not forget the Ladies.
So let’s let the Adamson Band play us out after a fantastic day at Grasmere Sports and show.
Time to get your diaries out. Grasmere Sports and Show Sunday 24th August 2014. See you there!.
This has been a spectacular spring for bluebells in the Lake District. The very cold weather earlier in the year seems to have really helped them bloom.
I had visited Rannerdale, famous for it’s bluebells a few weeks ago, and had been just a bit early to see them in all their glory.
However there was no need to travel any further than Grasmere. Loughrigg Terrace was a sea of blue, and right beside the main road Baneriggs Wood was looking stunning from the main A591 road. Baneriggs Wood is situated on the opposite side of the road from Penny Rock, the corner you go round as you approach Grasmere Lake. Did you know it is called this because a penny was added on to the rates to cover the cost of blasting through the rock to build the “new” turnpike road to Grasmere. Although the Rydal section was made about 1770, this section was not made until about 1831.
The light was just starting to fade but all around, a sea of blue. Bluebells prefer moist and shady conditions so the Lake District is perfect for them. Some estimates suggest that the UK has up to half of the world’s total bluebell population and most are found in woodland like these.
I am sure Wordsworth enjoyed the Bluebells when he went on his walks around Grasmere. The Romantic poets of the 19th Century, such as Keats and Tennyson, believed that the bluebell symbolised solitude and regret. Well despite being right beside the main road through the Lakes I was still able to find solitude and certainly wasn’t regretting my decision to have a wander through the woods!.
Grasmere is beautiful in all the seasons but when the fell side is tinged in blue, it is certainly a sight to behold.
When leaflets started circulating around the village at the beginning of this year, with the bold banner “unseen for 200 years” I wrote my first blog about the phenomena that is Allan Bank. At that stage it was still very much an experiment. Who knew what would happen. An empty building, on a hill, just outside Grasmere. An unusual National Trust property to say the least!.
So let’s see what has been happening over the year.
This is what the building looked like at the beginning of the year. Run down and unloved. Various paint samples of colours previously used daubed on the outside.
Looking rather good now that enough money has been raised to paint the outside.
People were asked what they thought should happen to Allan Bank. A lot of people seemed to like it as it is. A space to chill out, dream and relax.
It looks as though it isn’t just the visitors who have been having fun either. Looks like the volunteers have been enjoying things too.
Perfect venue for a few events. Having to walk to the house doesn’t seem to have been a problem. This was a book launch for Taffy Thomas.
Totally brilliant for a Skywatch, very little light pollution. This event was a sellout but I hear may become a regular event.
And then there was Halloween at Allan Bank. Lots of Pumpkin carving going on, every one a different face. Even the Victorian viewing tunnel was decorated in a spooky fashion!
And some famous folk found their way up the hill to Allan Bank too. Here are Sherrie Hewson and Amanda Barrie painting the stunning scene of Grasmere from the grounds of Allan Bank.
Then the season moved on, it became colder, and Allan Bank was a great place to shelter from the elements. Handy radiators to dry cold and wet clothing on. I understand that an eco friendly biomass fuel boiler is due to be installed over the winter, saving money and keeping everyone toasty warm.
And even better, just when it started getting really chilly, Allan Bank started selling soup.
The house was due to close for the winter on the 4th of November, however everyone seemed to be having so much fun it is staying open until 23rd December.
And while you might think the best views from the house would be in the Summer, to be honest when the weather is more seasonal, the views can be even more atmospheric.
The house is now decorated for Christmas. It has been a new chapter in the life of Allan Bank.
You know how I said the leaflets said “Unseen for 200 years” ?. Well considering you have to walk to the house, in theory it’s an “empty” house, and it wasn’t even in the National Trust Handbook, can you believe over 27,000 people have made it up the hill to Allan Bank ?. Quite amazing, and many repeat visitors too.
So just over a week to go before Allan Bank closes for the Winter. But don’t panic. Visiting Grasmere in 2013 ?. Allan Bank opens March 18th. Come along and see what is new.
Previous post can be found at “Allan Bank Grasmere. Unseen for 200 years” on this blog.
As a young student straight from Art College I applied for a summer job working in Grasmere Village. My interview took place in the then Prince of Wales Hotel bar. At the time, this was one of the best places to visit and stay in Grasmere. That summer job ended up being employment that lasted more than 30 years. Grasmere has changed over this time and the Prince of Wales has certainly had mixed fortunes, but I am happy to say has now been restored to not only its former glory but far surpassed it as the newly named Daffodil Hotel. Regular readers of this blog will have read my Prince of Wales Then and Now post, and more recently my post The Daffodil Hotel, A New Beginning.
Life in the tourist industry can be a long haul from Easter till the end of season. By the time October comes around we are all starting to flag a bit. But as my Mother-in law used to say “bear in mind these folk could have chosen anywhere in the world to take their holiday, and they have chosen here, make it worth their while”. Wise words!. However time for a bit of “me’ time and where better to try than the newly opened Daffodil Hotel Spa.
Nice to be met with a smile, and we were quickly changed into towelling robes and ready for our Rasul Room Treatment. What I hear you ask is that?. Well the name is of Ancient Middle Eastern origin. We went in to a room where various types of mud had been prepared for us to apply. Some smelt of chocolate, some were anti-aging, you get the picture, and no guesses which I chose !. You then go into another room which has two individual mosaic covered loungers which are heated. Lying on them a variety of relaxing aromas infuse the air, while coloured lights play across the ceiling. After some time the lights then brighten and a shower of warm rain falls from the ceiling to wash the mud away. Wonderfully relaxing!
Next to the pool. A series of different “experiences” awaited. There are six different areas in the pool, all with benefits to different parts of the body. Some lying, some sitting and some standing. Now it was at this point that we realised what a friendly place the spa really was. Watching our fellow bathers standing under three pipes which aimed various amounts of water on to them, everyone in the spa got a fit of the giggles. It was great because everyone was chatting away about the spa, the hotel and Grasmere in general. Lovely to hear such positive views about all three!.
Would have made a great picture someone under one of the pipes but didn’t feel it was really appropriate!
On to the very large sauna and steam room next, and the same friendly banter. A real tonic. And guess what I found in the changing room. My favourite Pure Lakes products.
After a lovely afternoon at the spa we left feeling really ready for the rest of the season. So if you are at the Daffodil Hotel in Grasmere and wake to a day like this.
Why not visit the spa and leave feeling like this!
It’s not often we get a brand new hotel in Grasmere, far less one right on the shores of Grasmere. I had written before about the trials and tribulations of the old Prince of Wales/Waterside Hotel in a previous post “Prince of Wales Hotel, Then and Now”. Lots of people had commented on the blog. They were people who had memories of the history of the old Hotel, people who had worked there, people who had stayed there, and lots of people commenting on their worries of what the Hotel would become.
Well, a new chapter begins here. The Hotel opened on the 26th July 2012 under a new name. The Daffodil Hotel.
At first glance it is obvious that a lot of work needs to be done on the grounds surrounding the hotel, after all it has been a building site for quite some while. However it’s not difficult to visualise what it will become.
While the outside might still need a bit of work, the interior is more than finished. Talk about a room with a view!
It must be one of the most stunning settings for a hotel you could imagine. And what about a room with a balcony overlooking the lake. Yes you can have that too.
There is talk of having lots of natural flowers in the gardens, bluebells, daffodils, just imagine how nice that will look.
Anyway, let’s wander down the hall and see what else we can find. I say wander, but it’s easy to become distracted by the wonderfully quirky limited edition prints hanging there. Worth a look in themselves. Being female I couldn’t help being impressed by the Molton Brown goodies in the bedrooms, and guess what, there is even a Molton Brown room you can stay in, just take a look at this shower.
You don’t need to worry that the character of the hotel has been lost though. There were still plenty of sympathetically restored areas of the original hotel.
Lots of variety in the rooms, some were suites, some had amazingly large baths and bathrooms, it would be hard to pick a favourite.
Lovely little touches like echoing the pattern of the beautiful carpets, on the wardrobes. But I still had to see the bit I was most excited about. The Spa. And what a spa.
To quote a famous retailer ” This is not just a spa, this is a Daffodil Hotel spa”. Not a swimming pool, but lots of different experiences in each area. Talk about relaxing. And as if that wasn’t enough, what about the very large steam room.
Now to have a look at the dining room and bar area. Well this table will do me just fine.
By now I was just about ready to book in, what a shame I live so near. Free Wifi everywhere too. I also had a quick peek in the two reception rooms, and to all the folk who thought the past had been forgotten, one was called the Waterside room, and one The Prince of Wales. Guess which this is.
By now the sun was trying to come out, and as I was going outside I had a little laugh to myself that one kind guest had obviously decided not to dirty the carpet!
There are views from every direction in the grounds. How about this view of Helm Crag.
So there you have it. A new chapter in an old hotel. All that’s left to say is “Cheers” and all the best to the new owners on their exciting venture.
Driving from Ambleside to Grasmere and coming round Penny Rock, the first thing you see is a building standing proud at the head of the Easdale Valley. How many people must have thought “Who lives in a house like that?”. Well really it should be “Who lived in a house like that?”.
It’s a house with a story to tell, so here we go. At the time that Allan Bank was built, Wordsworth was living in Dove Cottage. Along comes a Liverpool Attorney named Mr Crump and decides to build a house slap bang in the way of Wordsworth’s uninterrupted view of the Easdale Valley. At this time Dove Cottage did not have the houses of Lake Terrace in front of it, they were built at a later date, and with the living room of Dove Cottage being upstairs it must have been an annoyance right enough!
Wordsworth said “Woe to poor Grasmere for ever and ever!….. When you next enter the sweet paradise of Grasmere you will see staring you in the face…… A temple of abomination.
A few years later, Dove Cottage had become too small for Wordsworth and his growing family and they ended up as tenants of Allan Bank. Summers were idyllic, and Wordsworth had quite a bit to do with the planning and planting of the grounds. Winters were not quite so idyllic, with chimneys that smoked back into the rooms, filling Dorothy with despair as everything was covered in soot. They lived at Allan Bank for several years, with Coleridge and De Quincy frequently staying or visiting and quite often about 15 people there at the weekends.
Another famous tenant of Allan Bank was Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley. One of the founders of National Trust. He moved there with his second wife Eleanor who outlived him and was a very active participant in village life. She died in 1959 and is well remembered by older villagers. The house had been left to the National Trust by Canon Rawnsley with the understanding that Eleanor be allowed to live on in it till her death.
There then followed several tenants, and that’s how it would have stayed, had it not gone on fire in 2011. The fire was caused by an electrical fire in the roof.
One of the largest fires Grasmere has ever seen, fire engines came from all around. The current tenants escaped unscathed but the building was a sorry sight. Wrapped in plastic sheeting for most of last year it was hard to imagine that any good could come from it.
Spring forward to April 2012 and National Trust have now opened the house to the public. Great excitement in the village about the news that we would finally see inside the building.
Not like any other National Trust house I have ever been in, you are met with a sign saying “Don’t knock just come in”. Next surprise is, it is warm and homely despite being left with the bare bones showing.
Each room has a theme, Friendship, Garden, Writing etc.
There is even a Heaton Cooper room, with information about the famous Grasmere Artists. You can draw or paint your own masterpiece here.
The idea is to see what people think should be done with the building. With this in mind areas of wall have been left for comments.
It is very interesting to see what people are thinking and feeling about the house. Coffee and newspapers are provided and with the fire lit, it’s a perfect place to escape.
You can also wander around and find your favourite room. Twinings tea is also available. Why Twinings you ask? Well when Wordsworth lived at Allan Bank he wasn’t keen on the tea available in Grasmere, and used to send to Twinings in London for tea chests of tea to be delivered. Apparently he spent about £1,500 a year with them. He must have liked his tea! And I am pleased to say the tea available in Grasmere these days is much improved!.
The views from Allan Bank are spectacular and everyone seems to enter the rooms and gravitate towards the window. I have been there several times and even when the weather isn’t so good, the views still amaze.
The grounds of Allan Bank are another reason to visit. The National Trust Rangers could be seen working hard for months, cutting back trees and making paths.
The first thing you see when you go outside is a building that looks like a chapel. It was apparently a billiard room.
It must have been a very nice billiard room, with stained glass windows and lovely detail on the door.
Also in the grounds is a Victorian viewing tunnel.
The Rangers have also created a woodland walk. Fairly steep in places but with wonderful views of Helm Crag and Dunmail Raise.
So the next time you are in Grasmere why not wander up the road at the side of the Miller Howe Cafe and discover Allan Bank for yourself. What should be done with it in the future? It’s time to have your say.
The new season always brings a few changes to Grasmere. Shops open and shut, people come and go. This year however we have a welcome addition to the Village.
As Grasmere is a busy tourist area, the recent loss of our Tourist Information Centre was of great concern to traders and locals alike. With nowhere to welcome our visitors and provide local information it didn’t give a very good impression to visitors from all over the world.
National Trust had previously had a shop at Church Stile Grasmere which had closed some years ago and had more recently been occupied by Taffy Thomas Storyteller Laureate. Taffy no longer needed the whole building (his Storytellers Garden is still located here) so the good folk from National Trust decided to not only open a shop again, but to also include a much needed information Centre.
I have written previously about the history of this Grade Two Listed Building, but a quick resume. Earliest recorded occupant was a Richard Harrison who died in 1662. By the 18th Century the building had become Robert Newton’s Inn. This was visited by William Wordsworth and his brother John, along with Coleridge on their Lake District tour of 1797. It was also a welcome meeting place for coffin bearers who had to carry the dead in all weathers from the Parishes of Ambleside and Langdale to the Church in Grasmere. A more recent resident was Robert Hayes (1859-1947) who had a market garden and specialised in varieties of heather. A far cry from the Hayes Garden Centre in Ambleside today!.
The Information Centre includes a comfortable space for people to browse local Information, pick up a bus timetable, and find out information about local events and walks. It is hoped to eventually have the fire going in the winter which would look wonderful. National Trust properties and areas like Aira Force are featured on the walls. Brochures and information about their properties in the area feature too and with places like Sizergh Castle, Beatrix Potter’s Hilltop, Wordsworth’s House at Cockermouth and the wonderful Townend to visit, there should be something for everyone. Staff are able to download local walks, and it’s hoped that at some stage in the future National Trust Rangers will use the space to meet and chat with visitors and tell them a bit about their work in looking after the area.
Connected to the Information Centre is a National Trust Shop, but not just any shop!. Local crafts and producers are featured, including such favourites as Hawkshead Relish, Herdwick Rugs and even little cute Herdwick Sheep.
Walkers haven’t been forgotten either. Books, maps, Handihikes, and local Grasmere walks on waterproof paper (who said it always rains in the Lake District) are available.
One of the most popular purchases in the shop is the new Tubular Fells map, available framed or unframed which features all the Wainwrights in the form of a London tube map. Very clever!.
So why not pop in and say hello next time you are in Grasmere. Keeping ahead of the times they are even on Twitter @NTGrasmereshop so if you can’t manage a visit in person you can still keep up to date with local news.
National Trust Information Centre and Shop, Church Stile, Grasmere. Beside the Gingerbread shop and St Oswald’s Church in the centre of the village.