Could hardly not blog about our latest visitor to Grasmere, Prince Charles the Prince of Wales.
After a very quiet village for several months it was wonderful to see such large crowds lining the streets as Prince Charles came to Grasmere to show his support for the Lake District after the December floods.
The local schoolchildren were very excited as they were led to the front.
Next to arrive was a painted sheep! Throughout the summer you can spot these individually designed sheep in various places. Raising funds for Calvert Trust http://www.goherdwick.co.uk Pick up a Trail map from various outlets and see how many you can spot.
And finally a car appeared round the corner
Flags were waving and there was an air of great excitement.
The Prince of Wales took his time and chatted to locals and visitors alike. Most amazing thing of all, till that point there had been a grey sky and drizzle all day, he arrived and the sun came out.
Prince Charles was accompanied on his visit by Claire Hensman who is the Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria.
By this time the schoolchildren were getting really excited. Prince Charles headed over to them and he spoke to every single one. I was very impressed by how relaxed he was taking his time after a very busy itinerary all day.
The Prince also noticed a lady holding a large England flag and headed over to her to chat.
The sun was still thing and Prince Charles next went to the Grasmere Gingerbread shop.
He seemed to be enjoying a joke with owner Joanne Wilson, then disappeared inside for quite some time. It appears he was having a try at slicing gingerbread in the kitchen, however the Gingerbread recipe is a secret! Even to Royalty.
Now here is where the local knowledge comes in. Up until now I’d been balancing on the church wall, but jumped backwards into St Oswald’s Church grounds. Meanwhile everyone was waiting for Prince Charles to re-appear out of the front door.
But he didn’t he came out through the back door and made his way across the graveyard to Wordsworth’s Grave. He was met here by Michael McGregor Director of the Wordsworth Trust and I got a great view.
It was wonderful that the Daffodils were out at Wordsworth’s Grave and Prince Charles took a little time for reflection.
Prince Charles then headed through the graveyard towards the church where he was viewing an art installation by the local schoolchildren. Chatting to various locals on the way.
He spotted Grasmere Tea Gardens across the river and asking who owned it gave everyone sitting outside a cheery wave.
Stuart Cunninghams a local shop also got a chance to chat about business after the floods.
Then into the church.
The Prince of Wales visiting was what we all needed. Everything was feeling more positive, people on the streets, Easter this weekend and the clocks changing this weekend too. Just the A591 to re-open at hopefully Whit Bank holiday and we can all breathe a sigh of relief and try to make up for the business we have lost. Grasmere is well and truly open.
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!
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.
This is a nice little circular walk round the village and takes you away from the traffic heading through the village. Suitable for wheelchairs and prams too, although it can get a bit muddy after heavy rain. It can be accessed from various places in the village.
I started at the Stock Lane car park and walked along Stock Lane into the village past the village school, there used to be access through the school yard but this has been stopped as it wasn’t great when the children were out playing having random walkers crossing the playground. You can still connect to it this way at School holidays and weekends. Handy to know you can also park in the school yard during these times for a small donation through the school letter box for school funds.
Crossing the river at church bridge you come to St. Oswalds church.
Dedicated to St Oswald, a 7th Century king of Northumbria. The oldest parts of the present church date back to Medieval times. Take the path through the churchyard which comes out at the Grasmere Gingerbread shop.
The aroma will reach you before you get there. Hard to believe this tiny building was once the village school. You can also take a slight detour to your right to the Grasmere Daffodil Garden. Across from the gingerbread shop is Church Stile.
A row of 17th century cottages which house the Storytellers Garden. Always worth a visit if Taffy Thomas Storyteller Laureate is at home.
You can go down to the right of the gingerbread shop beside the Wordsworth Hotel to join the riverside walk but we are carrying on through the village. Keep straight on and walk up College Street. On your right is the village green with Heaton Cooper Art Studios in front of you.
Sam Read’s bookshop is to your left. Grasmere has a wonderful selection of independent and individual shops you won’t find anywhere else.
Turn left at Sam Read’s and you are now on Broadgate. The whitewashed cottage across the open field to your left is a listed building called Dockwray. Dorothy Wordsworth recorded in her Grasmere Journal a visit to the cottage on May 28th 1800 to see her friend Jenny Dockewray.
Walk along Broadgate until you reach the village Hall just beyond the row of shops. This is where the annual Lakes Artists Exhibition takes place in the summer. Turn down the side signposted car park while looking to your left over Broadgate meadow. You will see Grasmere’s war memorial located on a grassy bank. Close by is the “Peace oak” planted by Canon Rawnsley founder of the National Trust. It was planted on the 19th July 1919 to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the start of the Great War.
At the far side of the car park is a footbridge over the River Rothay, this is where we are going. From here there are great views of the Fells to the East especially Stone Arthur, with it’s rocky summit, and Heron Pike the fell further to the right. The rest of the walk is along the riverside back in the direction we started from. There are several good opportunities to take photos along the way.
You can cut up to the main road at one point or head across the fields to the Swan Hotel. In the summer months red campion flowers along the riverbank, and if you are very lucky you may see a flash of blue as a Kingfisher darts by.
After crossing a wooden bridge, carry on until you come to a metal bridge. This is the Millennium Bridge,
Built, yes you guessed it, to celebrate the Millennium.
Cross over and head to the right with Grasmere Sports field on your left,past the workingmans club and along the little lane to your left.
This brings you back to the main carpark where we started. There are toilets situated here but be aware they are not open in the winter months. That’s the Riverside walk finished but perhaps visit Dove Cottage which is out of the car park to your left, and rounds off the day nicely. Nice tea rooms there too.