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.
I quite often get asked “which way to the Lake”. The answer depends on whether people want to walk round it or just have a look at it. The lake is clearly seen from the main road for a quick photo stop however, walking down the side of the Garden Centre opposite the Church and up Red Bank Road takes you to the far shore and some great views.
The weather forecast is notoriously wrong in this area, after a forecast of rain I woke to beautiful blue sky. I had left it a bit late to go round the lake before work, however had time for a short walk. Heading up Red Bank you pass the Gold Rill hotel before reaching Faeryland, the first glimpse of the lake.
Faeryland is where you can hire rowing boats and enjoy a well earned cup of tea after your exertions!. And not just any old tea either. Who’d have thought you could sit on the shores of Grasmere enjoying a pot of Organic Tibetan Wild Lavender Tea or Organic Kyoto Cherry green tea?.
Carrying on up Red Bank road with Silver Howe on your left you pass Nicholas Wood and come to the stile down to the lake shore.
You reach the lake beside a little boat house and to the right of this is a handy seat to contemplate the view from. And what a view!.
A few minutes sitting here sets you up for the rest of the working day.
From here you can walk along the shore of the lake past Deerbolts Wood to continue round the lake or carry on to Rydal Water. Unfortunately work was calling so I had to head back with one last look over my shoulder.
If you do decide to hire a rowing boat, you can get a Fishing permit in the village and pass some time trying to catch pike, perch and trout. Now about that cup of tea….
One of the best things about living in the Lake District is that if you wake up early and it’s a nice day, you can fit in a walk before work.
It is often repeated that there is only one lake in the Lake District, so saying I went for a walk round Grasmere Lake would be wrong. As the name suggests it is a Mere. When the poet Gray visited Grasmere as one of the earliest tourists in 1769 he described it as “One of the sweetest landscapes that art ever attempted to imitate…”
The mist was rising off the water when I arrived and there was not a sound other than the birds and sheep. Even the traffic on the main road hadn’t started yet. Species of birds ever-present on Grasmere include Black Headed Gull, Coot, Mallard, Mute Swan and Canada Geese. Many attempts have been made over the year to cull the Geese around Grasmere and Rydal Water, because they compete with sheep for grazing, but they continue to flourish.
Several spellings of Grasmere can be found through the years. Gressimer,Grysmyre,Gressmere but the probable origin is Grisemere meaning “Lake of swine” . One of the early uses of the forest was the herding and pannage of pigs. Hard to believe such a stunning setting could be named after pigs!.
I had approached the weir from “Penny Rock” a sharp corner on the road which opens out into a view the length of the lake, on the road from Ambleside to Grasmere. The turnpike road through Grasmere was made about 1770 although the road by Penny rock was not made until 1831. Having to blast through the rocks at this point was so expensive that it added a penny on to the rates, hence the name Penny rock.
The hillside at the moment is tinged blue with all the bluebells, a wonderful sight.
The reflections on the lake were beautiful this morning, I just missed a heron flying past in this shot, will have to be quicker off the mark in future.
Some facts about Grasmere Lake. The lake is 1540 metres long, 640 metres wide and at it’s deepest 21 metres.
The view above is looking in the direction of Deerbolts Wood and Silver Howe. Roe deer as the name suggests frequent the area. When they see you they head off up the fellside in leaps and bounds revealing their pale rump patches.
Time was marching on, so work was calling, but what a lovely start to the day. Priceless.