Unlike other places in the World which are talking about building a wall to keep people out, Grasmere has a new wall to welcome visitors.
The entrance to the village at Stock Lane has undergone many reincarnations in the time I have been here so it was interesting to go and have a look at the latest. First a few photos of how it has looked. Note how the Poets well has moved.
We now have a rather poetic entrance to the village, with the building of a couple of slate walls inscribed with poetry by William Wordsworth.
There are also seats on either side of the road, and a much needed litter bin.
Crossing the road to Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Trust should be easier for pedestrians due to the new road layout.
Since I took the photographs earth has been filled in behind the walls so hopefully we can look forward to some floral displays.
Below is a link to the original Cumbria County Council thinking. So far no sign has been put up pointing into Grasmere Village. As far as traffic and pedestrians go the season is just starting so time will tell how well the new arrangement works.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
As we seem to be experiencing an Indian Summer in Grasmere at the moment, the temptation is to get up and out as early as possible for a walk before the crowds descend. That was my plan this morning, however it seemed I was not alone in that idea.
As I came round Penny Rock to walk round the Lake there on the shore were a literal row of photographers (what do you call a collection of photographers? In this case a negative seems appropriate).
Now if anything is going to make me self concious its a row of tripods with high tech cameras while I “point and shoot” with my little Cannon Ixus 850.
Plenty of room for all of us though so decided to head up Loughrigg Terrace for a higher view point, and you know I never saw another soul from then on.
Looking to the left, Rydal came into view. Every valley has it’s own little micro climate and Rydal had it’s own little cloud above it.
The sun was up now and I had reached the top of the terrace. What a view, glad I had my flask with me. Can’t beat the first coffee of the day on top of a hill!.
Now I am going to get a bit poetic here. I love to read “The Grasmere Journals” written by Dorothy Wordsworth when she lived at Dove Cottage in Grasmere. Today’s entry for 11th October 1800 says “The colours of the mountains soft and rich, with orange fern”. And that describes the scene perfectly.
A final look at the view and time to head downhill, still thinking about Dorothy Wordsworth and her Journals.
On 12th October 1800 she wrote ” Beautiful Day. We walked before tea to observe the many coloured foliage the oaks dark green with yellow leaves – The birches generally still green, some near the water yellowish. The sycamore crimson & crimson tufted – the mountain ash a deep orange – the common ash Lemon colour but many ashes still fresh in their summer green”.
It was still only 8am and when I got back down to the shore there wasn’t a soul about, the lake was all mine again.
Peace perfect Peace.