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.
I always think how much our Japanese visitors must feel at home in our village at this time of year as we do have some spectacular Cherry Blossom throughout the village, framing the views and proving an attraction in themselves.
The Cherry tree in the Churchyard is a particularly beautiful one, especially when reflected in the River Rothay
Outside Heaton Cooper Studio and Gallery is a well established tree.
A beautiful time of year to visit our village, even when the petals start to fall for another year.
Another year nearly gone. Another year where other commitments have overtaken writing my blog. Let’s have a look at what has been happening in the village this year through photographs I have posted on Twitter (yes I do still have time to do that so to keep up to date you could follow @grasmerevillage).
Mixed weather this year. Long periods of sunshine during the Summer then torrential rain in Autumn. Rushbearing Day was beautiful. Grasmere Sports Day was wet, wet, wet.
Our newly rendered church tower looked good in the sunshine, as did our new Farmers Market, which has proved a great hit with locals and visitors alike.
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.
Spring is arriving at last in the village. We now have a lifeline in the form of a bus link to Keswick so we aren’t feeling quite so isolated, and the work on the A591 needed after Storm Desmond is progressing. We can be easily accessed from the South or by the scenic route over Kirkstone Pass to the North. It is always a lovely time to visit. Snow on the fell tops, daffodils appearing, shops stocked up for the new season and hotels all spruced up over the winter. Some good bargain breaks at this time of year too.
Today we had rain, sleet, snow and sunshine, and that was just the morning!
It’s a funny thing but I suppose we all have our own idea of when Spring has arrived. The thing I always look for are the daffodils starting to flower at Wordsworth’s grave. Well today there were daffodils appearing everywhere.
Even in shop windows. This was a lovely Spring window display in Sam Read Bookshop and further down the road Herdy was getting in on the act too.
Of course the Lake District is always associated with daffodils because of William Wordsworth’s famous poem. Grasmere has it’s very own daffodil garden and you can find part of the poem reproduced there.
In the garden I would say the daffodils will be perfect just in time for Easter this year.
I decided to head round the riverside walk through Broadgate, then to the Mere.
The Environment Agency have been dredging the River Rothay since the floods in December and as I approached the other day I was amazed to see that as the digger exited the river, three canoeists appeared and used the slipway to launch their canoes! A nice bit of positive thinking.
They paddled along and the next thing I spotted them in the Mere.
We might have had a lot of rain over the winter but another advantage is that everything is looking very lush and green at the moment. As you can see Grasmere is ready for the new season, all that is missing are the visitors. Get yourselves up here, you don’t know what you are missing!
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.
At last the clocks have changed and the nights will be getting lighter. Summer is on it’s way and the signs are all around in Grasmere.
When I looked out at the Sports Field the other day I had seen crowds of people hanging over the wall looking at something. Curiosity got the better of me so I went to investigate what this new spectator sport could be.
Well Grasmere Sports might draw the crowds every year but the sight of lambs being born on the field was coming a close second!
Young and old were standing patiently watching the arrival of lambs right there in front of them, and I make no apologies for the number of lamb photos as they were just so cute.
The sun was shining too, which was a welcome sight after the long winter.
The National Trust Regional Headquarters are based in Grasmere and I had to make a visit there, so decided to carry on and come back round by the path that runs from just opposite, across the field and back into Grasmere.
Everything was waking from the long Winter, the birds sounded happy and splashes of colour were appearing.
When I came to the Millennium Bridge I decided to go round by Grasmere Daffodil Garden to see how the Daffs were progressing. Perfect timing!
The daffodils were in full bloom and I noticed some new slabs had been laid on the path, so I went to take a look as several people had asked me to let them know when theirs were laid.
I had also seen another sign of Spring on my walk, some more new arrivals will be coming soon.
Hard to believe this will produce frogs swimming about, but strangely fascinating!
Just time to give William Wordsworth a nod on the way past, and nice to see he had his own Daffodils to enjoy.
Grasmere is perfect at any time of year but Spring has to be one of the best times to visit as the village awakes for the tourist season about to begin. Ok you know i’m going to do it! One last lamb photo.
Not a particularly inspiring day for a walk, a bit grey and gloomy, however as you will see I did manage to find a bit of colour in Grasmere.
Just a quick walk on Silver Howe today as rain wasn’t far away. I headed up towards Allan Bank.
Owned by the National Trust, it is now a private residence, however it has had a few notable tenants. Built by Liverpool Attorney Mr Crump this new and large house dominated the view up the Easdale Valley. Wordsworth had seen Allan Bank being built when he lived in Dove Cottage and had called it “a temple of abomination”. He had to eat his words a few years later as his family had outgrown Dove Cottage and it was to Allan Bank that they moved. They were not happy there, it was draughty with smoky chimneys which blew back into the house.
Dorothy Wordsworth however did have a few good words to say about the view from inside Allan Bank looking out “Wherever we turn there is nothing more beautiful than we see from our windows, while the treasures of Easdale lie as it were at our door”.
And Coleridge liked it so much he stayed for 8 months. Two of Wordsworth’s children were born here, Catherine in 1808 and William in 1810. As you walk past, see if you can spot the open ended tunnel hidden in the grounds.
The weather was still fairly miserable so I headed up the lane towards Wray Gill on the slopes of Silver Howe.
After climbing carefully over the slippery rocks, I turned to head down back to Grasmere.
On a clear day the views from here are spectacular with Grasmere, Rydal and the surrounding fells stretched out before you, a lovely place to sit and have a picnic.
If you head down and over the stile and veer to your right you hit the path down off the fellside. As I was getting chilly now I was looking forward to seeing if Faeryland Tea Garden was open for the season, as the path comes out directly opposite.
Result! Not only was it open, but was thoughtfully selling hot mulled apple juice. Deliciously warming apple and cinnamon, what could be better. As I thawed out I sat and looked at the one bit of colour I had seen all day, the rowing boats bobbing on the lake.
Faeryland sells the most amazing range of teas. Who would think somewhere in Grasmere would be selling such delights as, Russian Caravan tea, Nonsuch Nilgirin black tea, Organic Khartoum Hibiscus tea, Lovers Leap Estate ceylon tea, Pai Mu tan white tea, or indeed, Kama Sutra chai! Even better if you can’t manage a visit to Grasmere in person, they are all available on Ebay.
I love this time of year in Grasmere, everything is getting spruced up for the season. Just think how many people will enjoy a row on the lake in these boats this year.
Although another mulled apple juice was tempting, it was time to head for home, with a quick nod to the faeries on the way past.
Postscript. Today 23rd March 2011. Fire broke out in Allan Bank last night in the roof and first floor. At the height of the fire there were five appliances in attendance. No one was injured. The damage has still to be assessed. It is thought to have been started by an electrical fault.
Was walking along past the church in Grasmere when I spotted new stones being laid in the Daffodil Garden. This only happens a few times a year.
Grasmere Daffodil Garden opened in 2003. A piece of waste land near the church was chosen to try and emulate Wordsworth’s famous poem.
“I wandered lonely as a cloud, that floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd, a host of golden daffodils.
The plan is to have 10,000 wild daffodils blowing in the breeze.
The idea of the garden is to raise funds to promote the heritage of the Vale of Grasmere and it’s traditional ways of Lake District life. This is achieved by selling Daffodil bulbs, which mean you can put down “some roots in Grasmere” yourself.
You can also buy a stone which is engraved with your name and home town. This is laid in the form of a path through the garden. Once the path is finished, sponsorship closes. The stones are made of Lakeland slate, and tend to be bought by people who have a fondness for Grasmere. It isn’t a memorial garden, more a celebration of Grasmere. Donors names are entered in the Book of friends displayed in St Oswalds Church.
The charities sponsored by the garden are, The Friends of St. Oswald’s. St Oswald’s church has over 100,000 visitors per year which obviously takes it’s toll on the building. The money helps to pay for it’s renovation and maintenance.
Another charity to benefit is The Lakeland Housing Trust. Because so many houses are snapped up as holiday homes, it becomes more and more difficult to find affordable housing for locals. The Trust buys and lets homes to young families at a subsidised rent.
The Wordsworth Trust is another beneficiary, helping to preserve the literary heritage of the poet’s bond with Grasmere. His grave overlooks the garden.
And finally, The National Trust gets donations to help farmers to maintain country features which would be difficult otherwise because of low hill farm incomes.
So the next time you are in Grasmere enjoy the peace of the daffodil garden knowing that it is helping preserve the beautiful Vale of Grasmere.
Grasmere Church, dedicated to St. Oswald the Northumbrian King, stands on the bank of the River Rothay.
The oldest part of the present church is thought to have dated from the twelfth or thirteenth century. Wordsworth who used to live in the Rectory at Grasmere at one time describes the church in his poem “The Excursion”:
“Not raised in nice proportions, was the Pile,
But large and massy, for duration built,
With pillars crowded and the roof upheld,
By naked rafters intricately crossed”
To commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953 a flowering cherry tree was planted in the churchyard by the two oldest Grasmere born residents, Robert Peel of Lancrigg Lodge and his brother Penny Peel of Field Side. It is a beautiful sight and of course we have many Japanese visitors who enjoy the Sakura blossom.
Just beside Grasmere Church is Grasmere Daffodil Garden which can be seen from the graveyard.
And from the garden you can see the bridge over the River Rothay with the tea gardens to the side. A nice place to sit and admire the cherry tree and the local ducks.