Things to do nearby Herdwick Cottage
Nestled amongst the spectacular mountains of Silver How, Helm Crag and Heron Pike, Grasmere is a great base from which to explore the central Lake District. Most of the buildings in the village date from the 19th or early 20th centuries, though the farms around Grasmere are much older and the church dates back to the 13th century. With its two picturesque lakes, Grasmere is the perfect place to explore and relax.
This pretty Lakeland village, made famous by William Wordsworth, has a wealth of literary history. William and his sister Dorothy moved into Dove Cottage in 1799. It was in this little cottage, at times “crammed edge full” with people, that William wrote some of his greatest poetry. In 1802, William married Mary Hutchinson and three of their five children were born here. Step inside Dove Cottage to get a feel for that time, explore the Wordsworth museum, and wander in the colourful cottage garden.
In 1808 the Wordsworth’s moved to Allan Bank, living there for two years, with poet and friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge. William noted that this was “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found”. Also once home to Canon Rowsley, a founder of the National Trust, Allan Bank is a place to relax in front of a warm fire with a cup of coffee whilst children play in the grounds.
To complete the Wordsworth tour, visit Rydal Mount. Lying between Grasmere and Ambleside, Wordsworth’s final home commands glorious views from its lofty position high above Rydal Water. This was Wordsworth’s best-loved home for the greater part of his life and the house and gardens are well worth a tour before settling back in the little tearoom to sample their tasty selection of homemade cakes.
Grasmere has long been associated with a spicy gingerbread, first made by Victorian cook Sarah Nelson in 1854 using a secret recipe. Its reputation as a unique, spicy-sweet cross between a biscuit and cake quickly spread and became an attraction for Victorian travellers coming to Grasmere to see Wordsworth's grave. The old Gingerbread Shop next to the church is now run by third-generation owners Joanne and Andrew Hunter and still makes gingerbread to the traditional recipe. Pop by to sample the wonderful aroma of freshly baked Gingerbread hanging in the air.
With a great selection of bars, cafés and restaurants, you’ll be spoilt for choice in the village. After a day out on the fells, unwind in front of the log burning fire, relax with an award winning craft ale and tuck into a hearty meal at Tweedies Bar. Each September they host a popular beer and music festival with around 80 real ales and ciders on offer, BBQ food, and great live music throughout the weekend.
When church floors were simply earth, for special feasts, parishioners would bring sweet smelling rushes to cover the earth and purify the air. This became known as Rushbearing. The practice stopped in the 1800s, when church floors were flagged, but St. Oswalds Church - where the Wordsworth family are buried - is one of five Cumbrian churches where this ancient custom continues. On the nearest Saturday to St Oswald’s day, the 5th of August, a procession led by a band, followed by clergy and then local children parade round the village with wild rushes and flowers that are strewn in the Church.
Since 1868, Grasmere Sports have been held on August Bank Holiday Sunday. It is a wonderfully traditional event where you can watch Cumbria’s special version of wrestling, fell running, grass track cycling, Hound Trails and other local events.
It is only a short stroll from the village down to the lake of Grasmere, a gorgeous spot first thing in the morning to catch the sun’s first rays and watch the mist rising. Rowing boats are for hire from Faeryland between March and early November. Or take the footpath on the western side of the lake up to Loughrigg Terrace and explore its huge cave, formed by quarrying.
A walk to the picturesque Alcock Tarn, is one of the many fell walks that you can do in the area. Other walks include to Silver How, Easedale Tarn, Far Easedale, and Helm Crag. There are many shorter, low level walks to enjoy, including a walk is along the Coffin Trail, the route along which coffins were carried from Ambleside to Rydal and Grasmere before the local churches were consecrated. You can still see the stone plinths used as resting places.
At nearby Ambleside, you will find an array of pretty gift shops, cosy bars, great restaurants and interesting art galleries. There are also three cinemas to entertain you on a rainy day. Alternatively, head over to the tiny, picturesque village of Elterwater for some tasty pub food at the Britannia Inn, followed by a stroll along an excellent National Trust path to Skelwith Bridge. Take a short detour to the idyllic spot at Colwith Force and on to Skelwith Force before stopping off at the beautiful Eltermere Hotel for coffee or afternoon tea, whilst admiring the views over Elterwater.
To the north of Grasmere is Thirlmere Reservoir, overlooked by Helvellyn, England’s third highest mountain. The reservoir was originally two separate lakes before it was dammed, flooding two settlements in the process. Only one building, a small church at Wythburn, remains. Alternatively, to the south of Grasmere, is Windermere, England’s longest lake. Here you can visit numerous attractions, including Wray Castle and the Lakeland Motor Museum, take to the water on a rowing boat or a Windermere Lake Cruiser, or explore towns and villages such as Bowness and Hawkshead.