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.
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.
Well at last the rain has gone and things are looking a bit more seasonal in the village. Snow overnight and blue skies this morning mean January is looking more hopeful weather wise.
At the moment car parks in Grasmere are still free to help the local economy recover, however I visited all three car parks today and there were only a handful of cars in each. Roads were clear and it was a beautiful day. A slight worry.
Grasmere in weather like this is wonderful to visit.
Even if you don’t come to walk on the fells the village is like a winter wonderland.
Even a little wander round the riverside walk is a delight in the snow.
I was actually going to get my shopping from the Co-op, who could have a better trip to the shops!
Not a lot of people around here either. What a shame.
Can’t believe what everyone is missing. Shopping bought and still “wandering lonely”!
As I always do, went by the Wordsworth Graves to see if the snowdrops were out yet. Still “wandering lonely”.
Grasmere is open! Roads from the south are clear of snow it’s one of the best times to visit and we are ready to welcome you. Yes some shops are still recovering from flooding but we will all look shiny new for you very soon. The Grand at Grasmere has a brilliant new look. Lots of hotels and holiday homes have real bargains at this time of year and if you are worried about slipping in the snow, Mountain Warehouse were featuring a bargain in snow grips, so no excuse!
Well we are now a few days in since the floods which certainly had an effect on our village. How are things now.
Well I never knew how heavy underfelt was when it was saturated with water. However the carpets are up.
Workmen are checking everything is safe.
The road that was being washed away is being reinstated. So it’s just a case of waiting for everything to dry out and getting back to normal. In the rest of the village it’s the same story.
Bin bags of spoilt stock, carpets and muck swept down from the hillside.
Apart from the odd side road all roads are clear. Our main problem is the A591 going North to Keswick which has been washed away, making Grasmere the end of the road. A huge detour down the M6 is now necessary. Bus services now terminate and start at Grasmere but the roads from the South are now all clear.
Today signs of normality were all around. Happy children playing in the school yard. Parents worked quickly to get the flooded school back to normal. A Tesco delivery van who had to wheel shopping quite a distance to homeowners.
The church which was flooded was again cleared out and brought back to normal by a band of volunteers who rallied round really quickly. I understand there is a wedding here on Saturday, so business as usual.
So despite the floods Grasmere is bouncing back. Shops are open. Hotels are open, and we really need you to come, do your Christmas shopping, and help us get back to normal. The famous Grasmere Gingerbread shop is open and looking lovely for Christmas.
The National Trust shop is open and has a wonderful selection of gifts, all for charity too.
Independent Bookshop Sam Reads is open and has a wonderful selection of books for all tastes. Brilliant children’s section too.
Jigsaw heaven at our local newsagent Barneys Newsbox one of the largest collections of jigsaws anywhere, just head up the stairs and you will see what I mean.
The shop I could spend a fortune in. Great source of art supplies at Heaton Cooper Studios. Gifts and prints. Open for business.
And Grasmere wouldn’t be Grasmere without the Herdy shop. Open with a great range of exclusive gifts.
Attic shop was looking ready for Christmas and I couldn’t resist browsing the enticing range of gifts.
Hotels are open too and ready for visitors.
They all have decorations up and are looking forward to visitors for the festive season.
I happened to be in the Red Lion Hotel today. Looking very Christmassy downstairs however not all was as it should be upstairs.
The swimming pool was closed due to flooding.
So that’s the story a few days on. People have rallied round. Farmers have suffered greatly and a lot of people I have spoken to are not insured or cannot wait for Insurers to give the okay to proceed. Time is money, Christmas is coming.
I have a sign in my hall. As the rain started again today I kept looking at it and trying to believe.
The rain is falling heavily again tonight.
Little did I know when I wrote my last blog, that a few weeks later on, Grasmere was about to be hit by the worst flooding in living memory. I can say that because my 98year old father-in-law says so. Mind you so has every reporter on the TV so it must be true!
High winds and continual rain for several days as Storm Desmond (we have just started naming storms in this country) hit the country. Cumbria was particularly badly hit. Roads quickly became impassable and villages became islands with no way in and no way out.
The river Rothay rose and rose. We watched anxiously.
And then it burst it’s banks.
In a situation like this you can use as many sandbags as you like but the force of the water is unstoppable. It comes up through the floorboards as well as through the door. You can feel the trembling beneath your feet.
Roads became rivers and several residents had to be evacuated from houses that were flooding. Thanks to Josie at Bridge House who had been watching elderly residents all day and then offered a bed for the night and warm meal, despite her hotel flooding too.
The next morning provided an opportunity to see just why the flooding had been so bad. About twenty years ago after another flood the river was re-routed at the top of Dunmail Raise to prevent it happening again. Had this been the cause, had it taken the old route, (apart from the excessive amount of rain too). One look at the fell side and it was obvious that the rain had caused two large landslides which had contributed to the flooding and debris.
The strength of the water had lifted tarmac and exposed pipes (amazed after I righted it the plant pot survived).
Dirty water had flooded in the front door and out of the back of most businesses.
Everywhere people were sweeping the floodwater out of shops.
Even the church was closed (on a Sunday!) as it had been flooded for the first time ever. Not long after though a large team of helpers were cleaning up. I am sure normal service, or services! will be resumed soon.
Still a bit of water in the streets but the water had receded quickly.
This reindeer made his appearance for the “Grasmere Welcomes Christmas” celebrations a few weeks previously when we had terrible weather too. Any one think he should be renamed RAINdeer ?.
You can see the two scars on the fell side that have appeared. Quite a few shops on this stretch were flooded. The Coop was shut, and when I made it through to Ambleside later I met lots of Grasmere people with the same idea as myself buying bread and milk as the main road from Keswick has disintegrated and the road from Windermere is flooded.
Several shops had started cleaning up already but there were also quite a few where people couldn’t reach Grasmere to assess their properties till all the roads open. Hope things aren’t too bad for them.
All along fences was debris showing how the river had pushed across the fields.
Although this looks like a weir, it is actually a drystone wall that the river has decided to take a route over.
The main thing is that yes! there are cafes and shops open. We need your support. Please help us get back to normal by visiting once the roads are running normally again. Let’s spare a thought for the poor residents elsewhere, Keswick, Cockermouth, Appleby and Kendal to name but a few who have been very badly affected.
There is an Appeal launched to raise funds to support individuals and communities affected. You can donate via text message. Send a text to 70070 with the message FLUD15 and a monetary amount. For example FLUD15 £10
I will leave you with this photo which summed up today for me.
Grasmere December 2015.
Wandering around Grasmere over the Christmas period, I started thinking how things had changed over the years.
Not that long ago, Grasmere used to close down in the Winter. Nearest Saturday to Bonfire night and that was it. Shops closed until 1st April.
Wandering around in Winter was rather a bleak experience and for the shop owners too, as they had to make a living in just seven months of the year. So what changed? Short breaks became more popular, themed breaks like Bridge weekends and Yoga weekends gained popularity, and Stay cations became more frequent with people taking shorter holidays but more of them. The Hotels in the village started staying open longer and catering to a different type of visitor.
So it was a delight to see Grasmere buzzing with people over the Christmas period and to see the hotels and shops lit up for the season.
It must have been a day for pondering because the next thing I thought about was how someone had said earlier in the week “meet you at Coffee Bean Corner”. I knew where that was but would you?. The Coffee Bean was situated on the corner where the Miller Howe Cafe is now. It has also been the Natwest Bank. We also had a Barclays Bank in the village, situated where Mother Earth is now. No banks now but we do have a shiny new cash machine in the Coop.
We also used to have two petrol stations. One near the Chemist and one on the main road beside the Daffodil Hotel. Now the nearest petrol is available in Ambleside.
Potted Out Restaurant used to be a family home. Then it changed to a china shop and now restaurant.
One thing a lot of people don’t seem to know is that we have a very good ladies and gents hairdresser situated inside the Red Lion Hotel. You don’t have to be staying at the hotel to use it.
A popular stop over the festive season has been Tweedies Bar, part of Dale Lodge Hotel. Dale Lodge used to be an old folks home. Great situation right in the centre of the village. Glad to see the owner of this bike is sticking to the “Don’t drink and drive” message.
It’s not often we have a brand new shop. Attic was a welcome addition to the village, situated next to Heaton Cooper Studio.
Many shops in the village are well established like Heaton Cooper Studio. Not only does it have the work of various generations of Heaton Cooper displayed but also a great art shop too.
And some shops come and go. We used to have a National Trust Shop, then it went, now its back again and also giving out information about the village too.
Another popular destination in Grasmere is the Herdy shop, tucked away in College Street. Looking very Christmassy!.
And mustn’t forget Heidi’s which looks Christmassy all year round.
So there you are. A look at Grasmere at Christmas, and a bit of a reminiscence at the end of another year. All that remains is to wish everyone a very Happy and Healthy New Year in 2014, and to ask Father Christmas for one last wish….. get rid of this rain and let’s have some seasonal snow.
Wordsworth is always all around when you visit Grasmere, however sometimes more than expected! We have had a huge amount of snow this week. Imagine everyone’s surprise when despite a blizzard blowing, the valiant servants from Wordsworth House in Cockermouth made their way up the valley to Allan Bank in Grasmere.
The visit had been planned a few weeks ago but with blizzards, snow and roads closed no one had expected them to even set off!
But these servants from Wordsworth’s birthplace were made of stern stuff and it wasn’t long before they were warming themselves in front of the fire in Wordsworth’s Study.
Warmed by the fire and a welcome cup of tea the servants explored Allan Bank. Wordsworth moved here from Dove Cottage, and I did spot a servant giving a wistful look down the valley in that direction.
Time for a recital of some poetry. Wonder if it was “I wandered Lonely as a Cloud” as some of the other servants were spotted admiring some Daffodils!
Wordsworth spent a lot of his time walking the fells, and frequently walked from Grasmere to Ambleside to collect the mail. I imagine he would have loved a map like this to plan his journeys.
One last look out of the window before heading off through the snow to visit Dove Cottage and the Rydal Mount.
Group photo on the doorstep before setting off into the blizzard again.
We are so lucky to have all the History that Wordsworth brought to this area. In Grasmere alone we have the Wordsworth Trust and Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s family grave in St Oswald’s churchyard, Robert Newton’s Inn at Church stile where he stayed and drank (now a National Trust shop), the Yew trees he planted in the churchyard, and Allan Bank where he lived, now a National Trust property open to the public. Add in Wordsworth House at Cockermouth and Rydal Mount and it is a literary feast in Cumbria.
Now about these servants…..
They wrapped their shawls warmly around them and set off,
A long cold walk to the village,
Next stop Dove Cottage, another Home from Home.
Up till now it can only have been described as a rather wet miserable winter. Nothing like the last few years where we have had a really good amount of snow. However things changed earlier this week and I was able to get out and about around Rydal and Grasmere.
The cloud was right down and it was debatable whether it would be brighter higher up but it was nice to get out without being rained on!.
A watery sunshine was trying to break through the mist.
I decided to wander up by Rydal caves and then decide which direction to continue in.
Gradually I was getting above the low cloud and arrived at a snowy Rydal caves.
Hardly a soul about. Crisp snow not too trampled yet.
Just a couple of folk on the horizon, and now well above the clouds.
Time to head back down to Grasmere.
It looked very cold down in the valley, it’s amazing how it can vary from one vale to the next.
It was starting to look very grey in the direction of Dunmail Raise. Allan Bank standing out across the lake.
The best part of the day had been and gone and it was getting very chilly. Time to head home for a warm drink.
This walk was earlier in the week and the snow has lain on the hills. It was forecast that we were going to have huge amounts of snow over night last night, however we seem to have escaped the worst and the heavy snow has been centred on Wales, Bristol and the South. It is just very, very cold and now icy underfoot. More snow forecast for the weekend. Watch this space….
A cold and frosty morning in Grasmere after a mild, grey, wet, winter.
The lake had started to freeze over for the first time his year.
The end of the lake where the weir is, is always the last to get the sun in the morning, but even there I managed to find a little patch of colour.
Because the lake wasn’t totally frozen, the reflections were unusual.
Looking down the lake it was interesting to see how the work on The Prince of Wales Hotel or Waterside Hotel as it is now known, was coming on. It should be opening this year which will be a relief as it has been a bit of an eyesore at the entrance to the village for a few years.
It couldn’t have a more idyllic setting and should hopefully be a credit to Grasmere when finished.
Another interesting thing which will be opening in Grasmere this year can be seen to the left of this photograph.
Allan Bank, a property owned by National Trust will be opening to the public for the first time at the end of March. Former home of William Wordsworth and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley one of the founders of National Trust. Wordsworth protested loudly when it was built he 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”. At that time he was living in Dove Cottage. Lake Terrace was built in front of the cottage at a later date, so Allan Bank was built slap bang in the middle of his undisturbed view of the Easdale Valley. Unfortunately for Wordsworth he had to eat his words as when Dove Cottage grew too small for his family, they moved into Allan Bank a few years later.
Allan Bank is an easy stroll from the village, so will be a great addition to visitors enjoyment of the village.
I walked past Wordsworth’s Grave later on and was pleased to see signs of Spring. A few snowdrops pushing through the icy ground. Just out of interest I had a look to see what Dorothy Wordsworth had written in her Grasmere Journal on this day February 10th in 1802. She wrote “A very snowy morning – it cleared up a little however for a while but we did not walk”.
The first snow of the winter arrived, and as I was early for work I decided to walk round the lake. What footwear, was my first thought, however as the snow was really thick I just put my snow boots on as they are warm, waterproof and have a good grip and it is just a low level stroll.
Starting off at the Garden Centre opposite the Church, the road to the side is called Red Bank Road.
I knew there wouldn’t be much traffic as the snow was so thick, but I wasn’t prepared for such a wonderful walk. Off up Red Bank I went, stopping to look at Faeryland Tea Gardens.
You can hire rowing boats here during the summer, but these boats were not going anywhere in a hurry!
Further up the lane it was almost like being in Switzerland the snow was so deep.
After passing this house you carry on up the lane past a house with a letterbox in the wall on the left, then the views become more open before you come to a stile to cut down to the lakeside.
The morning light was gorgeous with the sunshine reflecting on the snow.
When you get down to the lake there is a little boathouse and a bench to sit on, bit chilly for hanging about at this time of year, but lovely in the summer.
The rest of the walk is straightforward with a path running along the side of the lake, it can be very busy in Summer but I only met one other person, and this little chap!
Now there is a story behind this, as I approached the other person all I could see were several robins all flying at her repeatedly. I couldn’t work out what was going on. Turns out she always takes a handful of bird food out on her walks and these greedy birds were looking for more. It was like a scene out of Mary Poppins!.
Although the sun was coming up, the far end of the lake was in shadow and it was bitterly cold, the ducks had found some unfrozen water to swim in though.
Through the woods and back on to the main road at Penny Rock. Penny Rock, so called because a penny was added on to the rates to cover the cost of blasting through the rock to build the Turnpike road to Grasmere. Although the Rydal sections of the road were made about 1770, this section was not made until about 1831. As you leave Grasmere going up Dunmail Raise towards Keswick look to the left and you will see The Toll Bar Cottage, a reminder of the direct tax which used to be levied on all road users.
To be honest, it was this bit of the road that was the worst to walk on, while the snow on the other side had been crisp and untouched, this side of the lake is on the main road and obviously the snow ploughs had shoved all snow from the road to the pavement.
It was also in the shadow, so much colder.
Now I know the purists are going to contact me saying “There is no such thing as Grasmere Lake, it’s a Mere” well just to put the record straight. Obviously I know that but sometimes it is difficult to distinguish Grasmere as in Village, from Grasmere Lake. Hence my use of the word lake.
Just time to cut round by Dove Cottage and then back into the village.
More snow is forecast later this week, so looking forward to more wintery walks.