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Grasmere - the jewel of Cumbria
Grasmere in general
Member Name: Huomenna
Grasmere in general
Date: 13/10/13, updated on 13/10/13 (42 review reads)
Advantages: everything - views, architecture, quaint shops
I think I have to agree with Wordsworth - Grasmere really is one of the loveliest places on earth.
When I was young I used to come here once a year with my Dad for a weeks holiday and we'd spend most of that time in or around the village, walking up mountains like Silverhowe and Easedale Tarn (don't get the impression we're fit, we really aren't and we're even less fit now). Unfortunately other things that happened in our lives meant that this tradition ended up falling my the way side and although I wanted to go back, I could never really afford it.
Back in April of this year (2013) I was booked to photograph a wedding by Lake Windermere and as the distance from my home required at least one overnight stay, I decided to use the opportunity to book myself into a B&B in Grasmere the night before.
To cut a long story short I took a quick photo of the room I was staying in and later emailed it to the B&B owner asking if he'd like to exchange a few nights free stay in return for me photographing the whole B&B for him - he said yes and a few days ago I got back from said holiday, on which I had taken my Dad to relive old times.
Grasmere is now, much like it was as I always remember it at least a dozen years ago - a couple of new shops and a small collection of new houses being built, but it was a real relief to find the village much unchanged.
Grasmere is incredibly popular with walkers as it is essentially surrounded by mountains - Easedale tarn has a waterfall with a lake at the top, and if you don't think you can make it up a mountain then the village has a good sized lake of its own down at 'ground level'. Even if you're not a keen walker the views are stunning every way you look so there are loads of photo opportunities or you can just sit back and relax at a coffee shop and enjoy the scenery.
As the village is so popular with tourists, there are an awful lot of B&B's, hotels and self catering accommodation to hand, so you shouldn't be short of somewhere to stay. On my trips this year I stayed at Chestnut villa on the main road out the village - lovely B&B, great host (Mike) and definitely recommended.
There is a small village green and a larger park close to hand which has a play area for small children. Shops wise there are a fair number of gift shops, a large newsagents called Barney's (with a huge range of puzzles and model cars in stock), a lovely garden centre, plenty of walking gear shops, a book shop that's over 100 years old and plenty of places to eat. One particularly famous shop is located next to the church and is Sarah Nelson's Grasmere Gingerbread - it's a long established business, run from a tiny quaint building where they sell delicious gingerbread and a few other ginger related items. Even if you don't like ginger, it's worth a quick peak inside and the smell wafting out is heavenly.
Pub wise you have The Travellers Rest which is a short walk out of town (see my review on this place - it's ok but nothing special), The Lamb which is attached to the Red Lion hotel and serves decent 'pub' food at normal prices, or you have Tweedies which is a little more expensive, but the food is absolutely delicious (best fish and chips I've ever had and worth the £14.50, wild boar burger was scrummy too).
The village church has a little bit of a tourist attraction - it's home to the Wordsworth family graves, including William himself. The graves are ringed my a small iron fence and there is a small informational plaque nearby. If you'd like you can also visit Wordsworth's home 'Dove cottage' - it's not owned by the National Trust and does cost about £7.50 per person to get in though.
Many of the buildings are traditionally stone built and beautiful to look at - they really give you a sense of place quite different from many other areas I've been to and make it easier to imagine what it must have been like living here many years ago, whilst still retaining all the modern comforts (mobile phone signal tends to be fairly good and consistent for one).
As far as parking is concerned there are a number of car parks in which you should be able to find a place with relative ease, however these are fairly expensive. There is a small amount of free parking on the stretch of road opposite Barney's and down one side of the green - these are both free, but restricted to an hours stay and you'd be lucky to find a space most days.
If you do decide to walk into the village in the evening then you may wish to take a torch with you as there aren't a huge number of street lights and you have to be careful where you place your steps.
For needs that outweigh those the village can provide (the only chain shop I can think of that isn't walking related is a small Co-op) then Ambleside is a short drive away and both Windermere and Keswick aren't too far.
While good weather certainly makes any stay more pleasant, the village oozes charm whatever the weather may bring - when we last arrived it was pouring with rain and mist was shrouding many of the mountains - far from being annoying, I thought it was incredibly atmospheric and beautiful.
Overall I can't recommend Grasmere highly enough - I always held a soft spot for it in my heart due to my childhood connections, but though the years have worn on the allure of this stunning village has never waned. I'd move there in a heart beat were it possible. If you're staying nearby in Cumbria, you should certainly put this on your list of places to visit and if you're planning a holiday up there, but haven't yet picked a 'base' then go for it because you won't regret it.
Summary: A must to visit before you die