Whilst the Lake District is known primarily for its stunning natural landscapes and incredible vistas, it also has a rich cultural heritage – and a jaunt to Grasmere combines the two perfectly! If you missed my previous post about our first day in the Lakes, you can find it here.
Waking up early after a refreshing night’s sleep at Kendal Hostel, we gathered our things and made our way to the bus station. Luckily for us, there was a 599 bus leaving for Grasmere at 08:05, so we hopped on, bought our tickets and headed upstairs to get the best views from the open-top bus! The GO Lakes bus is a great service (even on Sundays!) and they offer hop-on hop-off tickets meaning you can use any of the buses on the network as much as you like throughout the day. Whilst sitting on the top deck seemed like a great idea when we boarded, we quickly realised it was far colder than the clear blue skies had led us to believe. Fortunately, the stunning views more than compensated for the loss of feeling in my fingers!
As the bus wound its way up the road leading out of Kendal, we had an unobscured view of the lush rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales to the east; until this trip I had never realised just how close the two national parks are to each other. With the Dales now behind us, the Lakes beckoned: from Windermere the bus detoured south to Bowness-on-Windermere, before making its way north to Ambleside, Rydal and Grasmere. This bus journey was quickly shaping up to be the most scenic bus journey I’ve ever taken, with magnificent views of Lake Windermere (and later, the River Rothay) and the surrounding fells.
As the bus approached the outskirts of Grasmere, we decided to get off the bus in order to see Dove Cottage, the former home of the famous Lake poet William Wordsworth. The small white-washed cottage was tucked away behind other quaint stone cottages, and its adjoining garden was beautifully landscaped and filled with pots of flowers and slates bearing quotes from Wordsworth himself. The National Trust owns the property and sells tickets for visitors wishing to go inside, but due to our limited time we chose not to do this on this occasion.
Following the road which skirts the edge of the lake, we ventured into Grasmere itself, arguably one of the Lake District’s most picturesque villages.
Grasmere’s olde-worlde centre is a quintessentially British rural village, and despite being a tourist honeypot, it hasn’t lost any of its charm. As we wandered through the village, we caught wafts of freshly baked gingerbread; the aroma alone was enough to make you salivate! Unfortunately for us, the shop (called Sarah Nelson’s Original Celebrated Grasmere Gingerbread) wasn’t due to open until 12:30, and as we were planning on spending the afternoon hiking, we didn’t manage to sample any of it.
Next to the aforementioned gingerbread shop was the Wordsworth Daffodil Garden. The garden was created using a patch of disused land owned by the neighbouring church, in order to maintain the upkeep of the church. This tranquil space was paved with memorial stones, filled with blooming daffodils, crocuses and other flora and even had a bench overlooking the River Rothay.
From here, we wandered through the grounds of the church, to seek out Wordsworth’s grave, itself adorned with blooming daffodils.
Our search for the ice cream parlour that I had visited several years ago on a school trip was fruitless, but we found a great alternative in the form of a take-away coffee shop called Lucia’s which overlooked the village green. A cup of hot chocolate was just what we needed to warm our hands up before embarking on our hike. Don’t miss the chance to try their Cumberland sausage rolls – they’re easily the best I’ve ever eaten!
Once we had drained the last of the hot chocolate from our cups and finished our pre-hike munchies, we set off on our hike from Grasmere to Ambleside – keep your eyes peeled for the next – and final – post on our trip to the Lake District!