Tag Archive | Easdale Valley

Allan Bank Grasmere. Unseen for 200 years.

Across Grasmere Lake to Allan Bank

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?”.

Early morning Allan Bank

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!

Temple of Abomination

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.

View from Allan Bank

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.

Exterior Allan Bank

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.

Charred remains Allan Bank

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.

Internal damage Allan Bank

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.

View from Allan Bank

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.

Friendship Room Allan Bank

Each room has a theme, Friendship, Garden, Writing etc.

Heaton Cooper Room Allan Bank

There is even a Heaton Cooper room, with information about the famous Grasmere Artists. You can draw or paint your own masterpiece here.

Express yourself. Allan Bank

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.

Comments at Allan Bank

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.

Fireplace Allan Bank

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!.

View from Allan Bank

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.

Snowy view Allan Bank

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.

National Trust Rangers Allan Bank

The first thing you see when you go outside is a building that looks like a chapel. It was apparently a billiard room.

Window Detail Alan Bank

It must have been a very nice billiard room, with stained glass windows and lovely detail on the door.

Door Detail Allan Bank

Also in the grounds is a Victorian viewing tunnel.

Viewing Tunnel Allan Bank

The Rangers have also created a woodland walk. Fairly steep in places but with wonderful views of Helm Crag and Dunmail Raise.

View of Helm Crag from Allan Bank

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.

Allan Bank a house with a view.

Alcock Tarn Walk, Grasmere.

Was in two minds to call this “A view with a seat” or “A seat with a view” for reasons that will become clear once we start on our walk.

Path to Alcock Tarn

This is what I call my early morning walk. In the Summer when the visitors are here, this is the perfect start to the day. Get up early and you won’t see a soul.

Brackenfell Grasmere

It is also the walk from Grasmere that gives a lot with not a lot of effort. The other obvious attraction is that every so often you will find a well placed seat. This makes it an ideal walk in my book. Time to stop and take in the view should never be over estimated. It’s not a race. Relax and enjoy.

Seat with a view

So to start this walk we head through Townend Grasmere, past Dove Cottage Wordsworth’s former home. Arriving at what is called the duck pond, but sometimes is no more than a puddle, continue up hill to the left. The path to the right will take you on to the coffin route to Rydal. Another popular local walk. You will arrive at the gate to National Trust land, Brackenfell.

Gate to Brackenfell

Continue on through wooded land and you will arrive at your next direction marker. Just in case there is any doubt, someone has written on it in pen.

Grasmere signpost

Round the corner is a lovely little pool. I have been told this is where the packhorses stopped to drink.

Pond, Alcock Tarn Walk

Carrying on up hill you really start beginning to see some fantastic views. Helm Crag can be seen across the valley.

Looking towards Helm Crag

Just when you are tiring after a bit of an uphill stretch. Guess what? Yes it’s another bench.

Heading up Helm Crag

Grasmere Village is set in a natural amphitheatre. From here we can see across to another of the most popular walks the Easdale Valley and Easdale Tarn.

Towards Easdale Valley

And looking to the left Grasmere Lake has now come into view too.

Towards Grasmere Lake

Not far now. But what’s this? Yes my favourite seat of all.

Perfect View

Cresting the top of the hill after going through a cutting in the wall, Alcock Tarn appears before you.

Alcock Tarn Grasmere

It was originally a natural tarn and called Butter Crags Tarn. In the late 19th century Mr Alcock who lived in the Hollins further down the hill enlarged and damned the tarn to create a trout lake. Hollins is now the regional office for National Trust.

Windermere from Alcock Tarn

This photograph shows Loughrigg Fell from Alcock Tarn with Windermere in the distance. You can also see Coniston Water from here too. You are about 1,000 feet above Grasmere at this point.

Small Tarn

Walking past Alcock Tarn you reach another little tarn with Butter Crag to your right. Just as you start to head downhill you get a fantastic view of Greenhead Gill with Stone Arthur to the left.

Greenhead Gill

The path downhill becomes quite clear now, and it’s an easy walk down off the fell.

Route from Alcock Tarn

As you get a bit lower you will be able to see part of the pipe route carrying water to Manchester on your right.

Last Bench

Well that’s us at the last “seat with a view” of the walk. Just a short stroll down the left side of the stream. Don’t worry you don’t need to negotiate the stepping stones there is a little bridge at the end.

Bridge over the Beck

Carry on across the bridge and down the lane which will bring you out at the main A591 and the Swan Hotel

Alcock Tarn Signpost

Now that’s another reason this is such a perfect walk. It literally takes you from one end of Grasmere to the other. At just over 3 miles, this is the walk I would suggest to anyone with limited time in the Lake District to get a lot of view for not too much effort, and don’t forget all these rest stops!.

An Icy Grasmere Morning

A cold and frosty morning in Grasmere after a mild, grey, wet, winter.

Frozen Grasmere Lake

The lake had started to freeze over for the first time his year.

Weir at Grasmere Lake

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.

Frozen Lichen

Because the lake wasn’t totally frozen, the reflections were unusual.

Towards Silver Howe Grasmere

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.

Waterside Hotel Grasmere

It couldn’t have a more idyllic setting and should hopefully be a credit to Grasmere when finished.

Grasmere Lake

Another interesting thing which will be opening in Grasmere this year can be seen to the left of this photograph.

Towards Helm Crag

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.

Frozen Grasmere Lake

Allan Bank is an easy stroll from the village, so will be a great addition to visitors enjoyment of the village.

Snowdrops at Wordsworth's Grave

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”.

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