Not the Grasmere we know. Covid-19 2020
Grasmere St Oswald’s Church with the door closed. Grass growing long in the churchyard. No snaking line of tourists queuing up outside the gingerbread shop. Easter and Bank holidays with no visitors.
The Coop did an amazing job keeping the village supplied with essentials and were very proactive in keeping the shopping experience safe. Thank you Tom and staff.
Wouldn’t you just know it. The sun blazed down day after day. Going for fresh air and exercise was a pleasure but one couldn’t help feeling it was such a shame not to be able to share with visitors.
After a very wet start to the year we watched as the river practically dried up.
Spare time was spent making masks to keep family and friends safe.
The traditional Grasmere Sports and Rushbearing cancelled. Then, suddenly little shoots of hope.
No the circus hadn’t come to town, however due to the ingenuity of staff, children were at last able to attend school in a socially distanced way.
Herdwick sheep real and otherwise raised a cheer when non essential shops were allowed to open this week.
Hopefully Hotels, and other accommodation providers will follow soon, along with restaurants and pubs.
Visitors we have missed you. It’s been very quiet which although nice sometimes isn’t always a good thing. Let’s all respect each other, follow the safety guidelines and hopefully the sun will keep shining when you come back.
A Year in Grasmere Village 2016
Another year gone, and a round up of what happened in Grasmere Village in 2016. It was a year many won’t forget in a hurry. We might be a small village but there is always something going on. Especially this year, Prince and Prime Minister, Cyclists and Wrestlers it was all happening this year.
After the stress and strain of Storm Desmond it was lovely to discover that a sunny photograph of National Trust Property Allan Bank graced the front of the 2016 Handbook. A great advert for the village.
Unfortunately things were very quiet in the village. The main A591 closed between Grasmere and Keswick and the village literally a cul-de-sac. Various initiatives like free parking were offered but it really was deserted as you wandered round.
We had a visit from the then Prime Minister David Cameron spotted in the school playground.
Snow on the tops in February and then on lower ground too.
Valentine’s Day visit to the Dove Cottage restaurant was a surprise with a cherry “heart” when I cut my cake. Very appropriate and tasty too!.
Meanwhile the environment agency were dredging the River Rothay, taking care to not disturb the crayfish, and these canoeists were quick to take advantage of a new launching area into the river. Storm Desmond was still having it’s effect.
After a dismal Winter signs of Spring were appearing with snowdrops and Daffodils at Wordsworth’s Grave.
The rubble that was piling up on the Sports Field after all the dredging was a perfect viewpoint for this cheeky Herdwick.
Elsewhere in Grasmere and throughout the central Lakes Herdwick sheep of a different kind were appearing as part of the Calvert Trust Go Herdwick fund raising initiative.
Temporary bridges were built on the A591 and a little mini bus started running between Grasmere and Keswick, my goodness it was popular! It ran along the far side of Thirlmere and became quite a tourist attraction in itself.
We had another famous visitor. Prince Charles visited with a trip to the Gingerbread Shop, Wordsworth’s Grave and St Oswald’s Church.
It certainly made the village busier.
April and things were looking up in the village both visitor and weather wise.
An exciting initiative in May brought coloured lights to the mere. Nocturnal Rainbows as part of Lakes Ignite Art installation.
As the tourist season started properly it was still a case of getting the message out everywhere that Grasmere was open for business.
Grasmere does look great in May, blossom and bluebells.
Bannerigg Woods were a sea of blue.
And then at last! Dunmail Raise was open and Grasmere was connected with the North again. Hello Keswick we missed you.
Diessen Brass Band (twinned with Windermere) performed at NT Allan Bank and the music echoed through the valley.
Grasmere celebrated The Queen’s 90th Birthday.
The village looked lovely with flags flying everywhere.
Grasmere Glee celebrated in the Village Hall.
Kendal Mountain Festival kindly brought outdoor cinema to Grasmere and Glenridding to support the flooded villages. The weather was kind and a great time was had by young and old alike.
July in Grasmere means Rushbearing. A rather wet one this year and the Rushbearing Maidens had a rather soggy walk round the village but kept smiling.
But it wasn’t all rain in July, the sun shone too.
August Bank Holiday and the 166th Grasmere Sports and Show. After a night of rain morning broke fair and a good turnout of visitors and locals alike enjoyed the Sports and entertainment on the Sports field.
Competitors travelled from all over the world to compete.
Fire eating was a popular spectator event.
Cycling came to Grasmere in September when the Tour of Britain sped through the village.
The village was decorated with painted yellow bikes.
Halloween in Grasmere meant an abundance of Pumpkins throughout the village.
Unfortunately Halloween weekend itself was a bit of a washout and the pumpkins on the village green looked a bit bedraggled.
Liked these pumpkins outside the Gingerbread shop.
Nights drawing in and streets empty by 5pm as the clocks change. Locals practice a form of reverse hibernation and suddenly you bump into friends in the street who have had heads down all Summer working hard to make our visitors to Grasmere enjoy their stay.
I was very, very lucky to win a holiday to South Africa for most of November so from 24 degrees to -4 degrees, however what a sight as we arrived back.
What a great welcome home!
December in Grasmere, what a joy.
You never know who will be about, Taffy Thomas former Storyteller Laureate was having a wander round the village with some student teachers.
The shops have a huge array of individual gifts you can’t find in the larger towns.
A wander up the hill to National Trust Allan Bank and the sound of bells were ringing out as the Beetham Bellringers played. Very festive.
Just time to put the Christmas tree complete with Herdy bobbles up and that’s nearly it for another Grasmere year. Grasmere Players Pantomime still to see, always a great family occasion.
Wishing all my readers a Merry Christmas and Health and Happiness for the coming year.
Grasmere Sports 2016
After a night of torrential rain it was a pleasant surprise that the weather for the 166th annual Grasmere Sports and Show was dry and fine.
Proceedings were given a rousing start by the Adamson Brass Band, always a crowd pleaser.
Young runners first and there were plenty of entrants for the sprint and fell races.
Meanwhile the crowds were being entertained by Andy Jester who was keeping everyone amazed by a bit of nifty fire balancing and eating.
Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling is always an important part of Grasmere Sports and this year the 11 stone World championships were held in Grasmere. I spotted competitors from Scotland who call their style “backhold”. There were also competitors from Brittany France recognisable by the word Gouren on their tops.
Icelandic wrestlers also took part. Their style is called Glima. Glima was the most widespread sport in the Viking age, and was practiced by both men and women. Glima was so important to Viking society that their god Thor was also the Viking god of wrestling.
More info at http://www.cumberland-westmorland-wrestling-association.com
Time for a cup of tea or coffee, thirsty work this Sports watching!
A new addition this year was Thelma the Tiny Tearoom, while old friends were also doing good business at the Coffee Bug. Too much choice.
Elsewhere on the field our very own Taffy Thomas the Storyteller was keeping everyone entertained.
Further along the field the hounds were going through their paces.
Hound trailing is a very popular event. More information can be found here. http://www.houndtrailing.org.uk
Animals of another type were also attracting attention. Herdwick and other breeds of sheep were shown and discussed.
It’s always good to see children taking part in the good old classic egg and spoon, Sack race and three legged race.
and parents like to get involved too. Balancing a bean bag was very popular with parent and child teams.
Of course the main feature at Grasmere are the Guides Races. An amazing feat as runners head up and down the fell side. This year there was a bonus £500 to run for, for both men or ladies beating the current records. No records broken this year so the money rolls over again to next year.
I really don’t think there is a finer sight than all the runners streaming up the fell side.
It was an exciting race to the finish!
Well done Sam Tosh, Simon Bailey and Rob Hope.
The ladies weren’t far behind.
Sharon Taylor, Steph Curtis and Ruby Sykes ran a brilliant race.
I noticed one of our oldest residents Mary watching the race. Wonder what she thought of the two tigers next to her? Mind you there have been reports of a large black cat like animal at Penny Rock so watch out!
While the race was on I had been keeping an eye on a special bunch of runners. I had met them earlier as they prepared to race for the Rosemere Cancer charity http://www.rosemere.org.uk
Fresh and raring to go, they still had a smile on their faces right at the end!
A friend of mine Alison comes up from York especially to help at Grasmere Sports. She took this great photo of the Guides race flag the night before.
So it will be the 167th Grasmere Sports Next year to look forward to. We do however have another sporting event passing through the village this Monday. The Tour of Britain is cycling through Grasmere this Monday. Can’t wait as several Olympians will be taking part. Just got to decide where to watch it.
Grasmere Rushbearing 2016
Grasmere Rushbearing 2016 was rather a wet one. It became obvious fairly early on in the day that the rain wasn’t going to ease up.
With good spirit everyone dressed for the weather and started to parade through the town.
I thought the owner of Bridge House Hotel in the centre of this photo looked rather happy about something and later discovered she had become a Grandmother for the second time very early that morning!
Normally everyone gathers on the village green to sing the traditional Rushbearing hymns but the ground was a bit soggy so a stop was made on College Street instead.
I couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for the Rushbearing maidens. While everyone else had the benefit of a waterproof coat they had to tough it out in traditional costume.
I noticed more than one person dashing in to Lucia’s for a takeaway coffee to warm up with.
Time to head back to St Oswald’s Church
I think umbrellas brighten up the parade on a rainy day.
Taffy Thomas the storyteller always has a good view point from the Storytellers Garden.
Back at church and time to get inside and dry off before a welcome cup of tea.
Now all the time I was watching there was one thing that I kept thinking. How heavy must the cloth the Rushbearing Maidens were carrying have got as it was absolutely sodden by the end.
So well done girls you did a great job!
Anyone who wants to see photos of sunny Rushbearing parades need look no further than this blog. You win some and you lose some but no matter the weather the show goes on.
Spring at Allan Bank Grasmere
A beautiful Spring day. As Allan Bank in Grasmere (a National Trust Property unlike any other) was open, I decided to take a wander up the hill and see what they were up to. This is the fifth year the property has been open and a while since I have written about it.
The property is a short walk from Grasmere (disabled parking on site) and has the most glorious views of Grasmere. The sun was shining and the daffodils were out. Lambs in the surrounding fields. Paradise!
Grasmere school children were enjoying the grounds as part of their Forest Schools activities. It looked as though they were having an Easter egg hunt.
The Art Room had been changed around over the Winter. Anyone adult or child can just sit down and use the art material provided to paint the amazing view out of the window.
In the kitchen cafe one of the volunteers (they are always looking for more) Janet was making Easter floral arrangements to decorate the tables. Tea and coffee are by donation and you can wander around the house, tea in hand.
Or if you are lucky grab a seat beside the roaring fire in Wordsworth’s Study, pick up a book and relax.
Allan Bank was once the home of Wordsworth and his young family but was also the home of Canon Hardwick Rawnsley one of the co-founders of the National Trust. This is the 150th Anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s Life and Canon Rawnsley was an inspiration to Beatrix when she was a young girl. He encouraged her creativity and also encouraged her in her love of the countryside.
Scattered around the house were cushions with quotes. I particularly liked the ones in the play room.
The play room was just waiting for little Easter visitors with books and toys to enjoy.
Allan Bank isn’t just for children. Upstairs is the Chorley Hopkins Mountaineering Library with a wealth of books on Mountaineering both in the Lake District and beyond.
Just along the corridor is a craft room where visiting crafters sometimes demonstrate lace making, printmaking etc. There are lots of vintage board games in here too. Looking out of the window you can quite often see the resident red squirrels but none today.
Just time for a quick look in the little shop, but the grounds were calling. Sunshine in the Lake District can’t be wasted.
In the grounds there is a fabulous woodland walk with great views. It is steep in places but well marked and resting places to be found. I had a little seat to look at the mere.
Next further up the path with a glimpse of Helm Crag in sight.
And finally Helm Crag in all it’s glory.
Something that hasn’t changed this year, or for a long time before is the old Victorian viewing tunnel in the grounds.
Time for a last cup of tea and tempted to cake by Sophie to round off my visit.
For more information about Allan Bank Grasmere see http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/allan-bank-and-grasmere
Follow them on Facebook. National Trust Allan Bank or Twitter. @AllanbankNT
My previous Blogs with the history of Allan Bank.
Grasmere Rushbearing 2015
Doesn’t time fly past. Another year another Rushbearing Ceremony in Grasmere.
I have written about the history of Grasmere Rushbearing many times in this blog, but it never fails to be one of my favourite days in the village.
After a weather forecast that wasn’t looking good at all, the procession took place with dry weather. I was actually at work but dashed down the hill to view the procession and take some photos. I always have a dilemma about where to stand but my good friend Taffy the Grasmere Storyteller took the decision out of my hands when he offered a cup of tea in the Storytellers Garden to enjoy while watching.
A great Lake District tradition begins.
And here comes the band.
Villagers young and old(er) took part.
Even our local thespian Doctor takes part. Still can’t forget his performance as Toad of Toad Hall in Grasmere Players production a few years ago.
As always the highlight of the parade are the Rushbearing Maidens.
Through the village they process until they reach Moss Parrock in the centre of the village for the Rushbearing hymn. Back through the village again to the Church.
Alex who was holding the cross at the start of the parade had been baking scones all day at National Trust Allan Bank and literally ran down the hill to take part. He looks amazingly relaxed! By now these bearings feel heavier and heavier!.
The Rev’d Cameron Butland leads the way back to church for the Rushbearing service. A little bird tells me this may be his last Grasmere Rushbearing Parade.
So another Rushbearing Parade escaped the rain! See you in 2016.
A good friend who I met through the wonders of Twitter @Loftylion9 was watching the parade with me. She took the beautiful shot below and gave me permission to use it.
Below is a link to the history of Rushbearing that I previously wrote on this blog.
Rainy Day Grasmere. So much to do.
Having a few days off work and awoke to rain. Despite having a sign in my hall saying “A tidy house is the sign of a boring woman” I started doing the job I hate most. Defrosting the freezer. Soon lost interest, and left it to it. Wandered up the village, and saw two people gazing in a melancholy fashion from a holiday cottage window. This got me thinking. There is so much to do on a rainy day in Grasmere, I almost knocked on the door, told them to grab their coats and follow me!.
First port of call, another look round the Lakes Artists Society Exhibition in the Village Hall. This usually runs from end July till beginning of September every summer and is open daily. Founded in 1904 by artist W.G.Collingwood (secretary to John Ruskin no less). Membership is limited to 45 artists all who must reside in the Lake District.
A fascinating mix of painting and sculpture. For more info see http://www.lakeartists.org.uk
Next stop. Barney’s Newsbox on Broadgate Grasmere.
Now while you may have bought your newspapers from here while visiting Grasmere, have you ventured upstairs?. Home to over 20,000 jigsaws, you can’t fail to find something to while away a few hours, or more!
A few pieces, many pieces, jigsaws for young and old, take a look you will be amazed.
Can’t manage to Grasmere, they ship Worldwide. http://www.jigsawsuk.co.uk
Grasmere is lucky to have lots of independent shops, and that’s what makes it so interesting. One of my favourites is Sam Read Bookseller. Established in 1887 this is the place to browse for every type of book imaginable. Snuggle up on the couch of your holiday home or guest house, listen to the rain against the window, and transport yourself into another world.
Situated on the corner of Broadgate and College Street Grasmere, you will be surprised by what you find inside. Very helpful staff, with great knowledge to find you just the right holiday read.
To see a selection of their books, maps and other reading material. http://www.samreadbooks.co.uk situated next door is Lucia’s Takeaway Coffee Shop, great for a quick snack or picnic item. On sunny day’s you can borrow a sit mat to use on the village green opposite while you eat.
Across the green is situated Heaton Cooper Studio. Another family business that was established in 1905. I don’t think I have ever managed to get out of here without making a purchase from their wonderful art shop. This time wasn’t any different!
The Gallery features work by several generations of the Heaton Cooper Family. Wonderful images of the Lake District in all it’s glory.
They also have a new exhibition space. A great addition and I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the exhibition currently on, entitled “Working The Landscape”.
Have a look at their website to see what’s on when you visit. http://www.heatoncooper.co.uk
Walk out and turn to your right. Another wet weather idea is National Trust Allan Bank situated up the lane to the side of the Miller Howe Cafe. This is not your normal National Trust experience. A quirky house, once lived in by Wordsworth and co-founder of the Trust Cannon Hardwicke Rawnsley. Each room has a loose theme, Art Room, Play room, etc. No ropes and no “Do not touch” signs.
It now features a kitchen cafe with a great selection of cakes.
Dogs are welcome in the house too, so no need to leave four legged friends behind. Another interesting room has the Chorley Hopkinson Mountaineering Library in it, so if it’s not the weather for climbing you can at least read about your next adventure.
Plenty for children and adults alike to do. Sit beside the roaring fire and read the complimentary newspapers while the children paint a masterpiece. Fantastic views too, even on a miserable day.
Best of all there are red squirrels at Allan Bank and they seem to like the wet weather best. Sit at the window and see what you can spot.
No squirrels about? You never know what animal you might find (dressing up optional!).
Allan Bank Information http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/allan-bank-and-grasmere/
So what else to do on a rainy Grasmere day? Pop in to St Oswald’s Church.
Buy some Grasmere Gingerbread. Always warming on a miserable day.
Or pay a visit to the Wordsworth Trust and Dove Cottage another of Wordsworth’s homes in the village. They usually have a great exhibition on too.
And if all else fails. Treat yourself to a fab Herdy Umbrella and do a bit of singing in the rain!
So I hope this has given you some ideas of what to do on a rainy day in Grasmere. Only one problem. I spent so much time enjoying myself wandering round the village my freezer had defrosted it’s self all over the floor, so it was not only wet outside but inside too!
Dove Cottage in the evening
Recently as part of the Museums at Night initiative Dove Cottage Grasmere, held three evenings for a limited amount of people to experience the cottage at night as it had been when it was an inn called the Dove and Olive Bough.
A welcome awaited with the sounds of the fiddle floating through the air.
The history of the house is referred to in William’s 1806 poem The Waggoner. “Where once the Dove and Olive bough offered a greeting of good ale to all who entered Grasmere Vale”. And on this occasion real ale was also supplied. It was wonderful to wander around the garden, drink in hand, on a balmy summer evening.
The sun was just setting on the village, and visitors had made their way home.
Walking further up the garden you come to a seat overlooking the rooftops.
The view would have been different in Wordsworth’s day of course as Dove Cottage was built on the old turnpike road, the view would have been much more open, the lake not obscured by the buildings on the “new” road that exists now.
It was getting chillier so we repaired inside for some real ale poetry and prose, with a few drinking songs thrown in for good measure.
To quote “The Waggoner” again we had to “leave it with a jovial heart” as time waits for no man, and neither does the 555 bus which was speeding some of our party home. A good night had by all. Thanks to http://wordsworth.org.uk Why not have a look and see what events are on when you next visit Grasmere Village.
Grasmere Sports and Show 2013
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!.
Allan Bank Grasmere. A New Beginning.
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.