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Grasmere in general
Member Name: yabbadabbadoo
Grasmere in general
Date: 10/11/08, updated on 24/02/11 (410 review reads)
Advantages: Picturesque village, heart of the Lakes
Disadvantages: Slim chance of wandering lonely as a crowd in peak season
The beautiful village of Grasmere situated in the heart of the English Lake District will of course be forever associated with the great poet William Wordsworth 1770-1850 who lived here at Dove Cottage for a period of 8 years at the peak of his writing powers, during which time he penned his most famous piece, the beautiful and evocative "I wandered lonely as a cloud".
All quite familiar I hear you cry, but I'm pretty sure you didn't know that Grasmere is in fact the very place that inspired children's TV icon Postman Pat's home village of Greendale!
So with that revelation still fresh in the mind, please allow me the pleasure of taking you on a small journey of discovery around some of the other delights of what in my view, can only be described as a truly picturesque and surprisingly unspoilt village, which serves as a perfect base for holidaying in the Lakes.
So let's start with the Lake itself, Grasmere, which is around a mile and a half in circumference, and is owned and the paths around it fully maintained by the National Trust. For those of you traveling by car, follow the sign to the main village off a mini-roundabout on the A591, into Stock Lane where within a few hundred yards there is a large public car park on the right.
The Lake is right opposite the Car Park, and I would highly recommend starting your visit with a gentle stroll clockwise along the paths leading from the car-park all the way around this beautiful, enchantingly undisturbed stretch of water.
Described by the great man himself (no not Pat!!) as "The most loveliest spot that man hath found", it certainly doesn't disappoint, but for me as a huge fan of a Lakeland cream tea, the real beauty lies in the wide selection of enticing tea rooms that lie in wait at the end of the journey!
One small word of caution for those less able walkers, about ¾ of the way round, just as the tea shops are almost in site, a certain portion of the Lake remains privately owned which means you are diverted up a short hillside in order to complete the journey. Unlikely to be a problem for the many seasoned fell-walkers that are attracted to the area, but lets just say I can vividly recall my sister who's boots aren't really made for walking not being best pleased at discovering this extra burden of exercise!
****Exploring the Village*****
Once you've recovered in a tea-room or two (I recommend the family run Jumble Room Café), its time to explore the village. The natural point of focus is St Oswald's Church where William Wordsworth is buried.
It did make me chuckle the first time I ever visited the church yard back in spring 2001 when I overheard a stereotypically loud elderly American Tourist proclaiming "His headstone's really kind of plain, I thought it would be grander than this honey"...At this point a sympathetic and rather unassuming old lady quietly pointed out that in fact these were the Wordsworth family graves and that the William Wordsworth gravestone he was looking at was actually that of his father William!
But what really marked it for me as a comedy moment of classic proportions and a wondrous illustration of the perils of failing to engage brain first before speaking, was the pure and simple fact that located less than 5 feet away to the right was a much more distinctive headstone and grave utterly bedecked in yellow daffodils (as you might expect), that short of a flashing neon sign and arrow pointing at it was about as obvious as it gets as the fitting shrine and tribute to the great one!
One other interesting feature of the Churchyard is the Wordsworth Daffodil Garden. The Friends of Grasmere society who have designed and are maintaining the garden ask visitors to have a daffodil planted in their name, or a name carved on one of the paving stones which make up a winding path around the garden in return for relatively sizeable donations (hence the path isn't finished yet!).
Look closely at the names at the very end of the path overlooking the attractive bridge and you may spot such notable celebrity benefactors as the inimitable Rolf Harris, Michael Ball and even the ever lovely Gloria Hunniford!
By the far entrance of the church, you'll find another popular tourist stopping point in the village, the tiny old school house building dating back to the 1700s that is now home to the Sarah Nelson Gingerbread shop.
Apparently there is controversy still raging within the village itself as to the true heir to the title of finest Gingerbread in the hamlet, but suffice for me to say that frankly this stuff tastes like no ginger bread I've ever had in my life - its definitely an acquired taste, and my recommendation is to stick to the Kendal mint cake!!
****Places to Stay****
Have stayed in two excellent establishments in and around Grasmere over the last few years and can heartily recommend both if for different reasons. Back in the day before we had our baba, via the wonders of the Interweb, we happened upon an old Lakeland Coaching house called the Travellers Rest, and stayed there with a group of friends. Situated just outside the village in the shadow of one of the most recognisable landmarks in the lakes the 'Lion and Lamb' on the summit of Helm Crag, this is a fantastic example of a brilliantly run real ale pub that also offers perfectly comfortable bed and breakfast accomodation and superb evening meals to suit any weary traveller. That is unless you have young children when sadly you have to stay elsewhere.
Am happy to report that for a family alternative can highly recommend the Dale Lodge, which is literally right in the heart of the Village. Family run, with very spacious and modern rooms, with an acre or two of gardens, the best part is that within the family is a renowned head chef who has trained in Michelin starred restaurants, and they offer the same food in the adjoining Tweedies Bar (another CAMRA backed establishment) as they do in the main restaurant, so you can eat there on an early sitting with the little ones and enjoy a fine feast. Prices are a little high at peak season but that's to be expected, and you really do get what you pay for in my view
So there you have it, postman pat's personal paradise (before it was mercilessly ripped apart by those modernising TV makers - that's another subject entirely) for you to explore, just a short trip down the road from the popular towns of Windermere and Ambleside, I heartily recommend Grasmere as a base camp for your Lakeland adventures - or as Wordsworth himself might of said "good pubs, good grub, its not too shabby really!"
Summary: Take a look around
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