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!
A family gathering and a staycation in Grasmere. It’s not often you book in to a Hotel which is just a few steps from your own front door. With people arriving from Scotland, Manchester and London, it was suggested we all book in to a Hotel so no one had to cook or organise anything. It was brilliant! The weather was extremely kind and the Bridge House Hotel couldn’t have been more perfect. Ample parking in the centre of the village, lovely grounds to sit in, and the food… well the food was just amazing. As we had young children visiting the option of a smaller portion of a main meal or a kid’s meal was ideal.
As we were being fed so well, a bit of exercise was needed. With ages ranging from three to eighty three a walk round the lake seemed like the best plan. Having procured bread from the hotel kitchen to feed the ducks, off we set….. and didn’t get far. As we had a few tea lovers with us, we had to stop at Faeryland tea gardens on the waters edge. They have the most amazing range of teas, and everyone enjoyed the selection. There was a brief debate about whether to go out in a rowing boat but we decided to stick to the original plan.
Although the start of the walk is on Red Bank road, it is not long till you come to a house with a red postbox in the wall and just beyond, the path to the lake shore. The sun was blazing down (not often I get to write this) and everyone was desperate to reach the water and have a paddle.
Another young member of the family suddenly spotted Allan Bank the National Trust property in the distance, and had to be bribed with a visit the next day to keep him walking! Loads of fun for everyone and he had remembered a previous visit.
Another distraction was just along the path. Children love this tree.
It was fantastic to see everyone enjoying the sunshine. The beach at the end of the lake was packed with people.
There really is nowhere better than Grasmere when the weather is kind. People were starting to flag a bit, so we decided to come back through Penny Rock woods and walk along the pavement at the side of the lake.
The thought of a drink on the terrace at the Daffodil Hotel kept everyone going. While the older members of the family enjoyed the views and refreshment, the younger ones were still full of energy and found an old boat in the grounds to play on.
“Did you enjoy your walk” I asked ? I think the answer was clear!
Definitely a Glorious day in Grasmere, and a perfect walk for all ages. Even better no meals to make that evening. Who says holidaying in your own village can’t be fun.
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….
It’s not often we get a brand new hotel in Grasmere, far less one right on the shores of Grasmere. I had written before about the trials and tribulations of the old Prince of Wales/Waterside Hotel in a previous post “Prince of Wales Hotel, Then and Now”. Lots of people had commented on the blog. They were people who had memories of the history of the old Hotel, people who had worked there, people who had stayed there, and lots of people commenting on their worries of what the Hotel would become.
Well, a new chapter begins here. The Hotel opened on the 26th July 2012 under a new name. The Daffodil Hotel.
At first glance it is obvious that a lot of work needs to be done on the grounds surrounding the hotel, after all it has been a building site for quite some while. However it’s not difficult to visualise what it will become.
While the outside might still need a bit of work, the interior is more than finished. Talk about a room with a view!
It must be one of the most stunning settings for a hotel you could imagine. And what about a room with a balcony overlooking the lake. Yes you can have that too.
There is talk of having lots of natural flowers in the gardens, bluebells, daffodils, just imagine how nice that will look.
Anyway, let’s wander down the hall and see what else we can find. I say wander, but it’s easy to become distracted by the wonderfully quirky limited edition prints hanging there. Worth a look in themselves. Being female I couldn’t help being impressed by the Molton Brown goodies in the bedrooms, and guess what, there is even a Molton Brown room you can stay in, just take a look at this shower.
You don’t need to worry that the character of the hotel has been lost though. There were still plenty of sympathetically restored areas of the original hotel.
Lots of variety in the rooms, some were suites, some had amazingly large baths and bathrooms, it would be hard to pick a favourite.
Lovely little touches like echoing the pattern of the beautiful carpets, on the wardrobes. But I still had to see the bit I was most excited about. The Spa. And what a spa.
To quote a famous retailer ” This is not just a spa, this is a Daffodil Hotel spa”. Not a swimming pool, but lots of different experiences in each area. Talk about relaxing. And as if that wasn’t enough, what about the very large steam room.
Now to have a look at the dining room and bar area. Well this table will do me just fine.
By now I was just about ready to book in, what a shame I live so near. Free Wifi everywhere too. I also had a quick peek in the two reception rooms, and to all the folk who thought the past had been forgotten, one was called the Waterside room, and one The Prince of Wales. Guess which this is.
By now the sun was trying to come out, and as I was going outside I had a little laugh to myself that one kind guest had obviously decided not to dirty the carpet!
There are views from every direction in the grounds. How about this view of Helm Crag.
So there you have it. A new chapter in an old hotel. All that’s left to say is “Cheers” and all the best to the new owners on their exciting venture.
A few weeks ago we had a little taste of what Summer should be like in Grasmere.
A certain family member had been wanting to go out on a rowing boat on Grasmere for ages and I had kept saying it was too cold.
Trust me to land myself without an excuse when I woke to the most beautiful sunny morning and went into the kitchen announcing “isn’t it warm today”. That was it, rowing boat day had arrived!
To be honest I had a reason to go out on the lake myself, but once it was agreed that I was taking photos and not rowing I really started enjoying myself.
It was a stunning day weather wise and still early so not many folk about.
We headed out to the Island in the centre of the mere. This got me thinking as we got nearer and nearer, how much it had got overgrown. I can’t remember the last time I saw the farmer taking sheep across to graze on a rowing boat. It used to be a regular occurrence. It was also common for flocks of sheep to be brought down Stock Lane in the centre of the village. Quite often the cry of “sheep!” prompted us to run and close our shop doors, in case they decided to pay a visit. I never had sheep in the shop but I did once have a flock tramp through the house when someone who shall remain nameless left the front gate and front door open!. A very “sheepish” (sorry couldn’t resist that) farmer appeared at the door with a box of chocolates to apologise.
A few more lake users were appearing so we headed over to have a look at the new Waterside Hotel. Formerly the Prince of Wales it is due to open this Summer.
I had been desperate to see what it looked like from the water, and this was the perfect view.
It was good to see what was happening from a different angle.
There will be some lovely views from these windows. Time was moving on so we went round by the Waterside Boathouse and rowed to the top of the lake.
It was a quick row to the top of the lake, and by now the sun was really shining.
Walkers were appearing on the walk round the shore.
The views are stunning in every direction from the lake, it really is the most perfect place to take in the surroundings.
It looked as though lots of people were starting to get the same idea as us, and more boats were appearing as we headed back to Faeryland where we had started from.
Nesting on the bank just before we got back to the landing stage were some swans, we just had time to watch them enjoying the sun.
Then just before we docked we spotted a Heron in the shallows.
Feeling guilty that I hadn’t done a single bit of rowing, I felt it only right to offer refreshments. A pot of Faeryland’s own blend tea.
So a perfect sunny day in Grasmere. No need to open an umbrella. Well not for the usual reasons anyway!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Round the corner is a lovely little pool. I have been told this is where the packhorses stopped to drink.
Carrying on up hill you really start beginning to see some fantastic views. Helm Crag can be seen across the valley.
Just when you are tiring after a bit of an uphill stretch. Guess what? Yes it’s another bench.
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.
And looking to the left Grasmere Lake has now come into view too.
Not far now. But what’s this? Yes my favourite seat of all.
Cresting the top of the hill after going through a cutting in the wall, Alcock Tarn appears before you.
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.
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.
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.
The path downhill becomes quite clear now, and it’s an easy walk down off the fell.
As you get a bit lower you will be able to see part of the pipe route carrying water to Manchester on your right.
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.
Carry on across the bridge and down the lane which will bring you out at the main A591 and the Swan Hotel
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!.
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.