Sports and Activities
Must-do activities at Grasmere
- DOVE Cottage & Wordsworth Museum: Once home to William Wordsworth, arguably the most famous of the many poets who have been so inspired by the beauty of the Lake District. His first family cottage and the museum next door is now a much-visited attraction for those seeking to find out more about his everyday life and the works written at the cottage. You can also attend a wide programme of events and exhibitions during the year.
- Dove Cottage, Grasmere, LA22 9SH, UK. Tel. +44(0)15394 35544.
- SARAH NELSON’S Gingerbread: Tucked between The Wordsworth Hotel and St Oswald’s Church sits the Old Grasmere School, now the home Grasmere Gingerbread®. It’s no exaggeration to say that people flock to sample the world-famous gingerbread and no visit to Grasmere would be complete without a stop here.
- Church Cottage, Grasmere, LA22 9SW, UK.
- ST OSWALD’S Church: The 13th century church in Grasmere is now one of the most visited shrines in the world thanks to its associations with the poet William Wordsworth who, together with his wife Mary, is buried here. The Wordsworth Daffodil memorial garden next door is a little haven of calm and glorious when in bloom.
- Church Stile, Grasmere, LA22 9SW, UK.
- FAERYLAND is a stunning lakeside tea garden with plenty of things to do, including rowing boat hire, and a delicious menu to enjoy.
- Red Bank, Grasmere, Ambleside LA22 9PX, UK.
- SAM READ BOOKSELLER Established 1887: Award-winning small bookshop in the Lake District.
- Broadgate House, Grasmere, Ambleside, LA22 9SY, UK.
- HEATON Cooper Studio: Established by the landscape painter Alfred Heaton Cooper in 1905. The present Grasmere studio was built by his son William Heaton Cooper in 1938. The gallery is home to the work of the Heaton Cooper artistic dynasty whose paintings and books have influenced the landscape view of the Lake District for generations. There’s a varied programme of events running throughout the year.
- Grasmere, LA22 9SX, UK.
Must-do activities near Grasmere
- HILL Top: Beatrix Potter’s 17th century farmhouse, now owned by the National Trust, is a veritable time capsule of her life and the inspiration behind her tales. Take a look around the farmhouse garden and learn about her deep connection to the place. Perhaps you will meet the real-life Mr McGregor!
- Near Sawrey, Ambleside LA22 0LF, UK. (11.6 mi, 30 minutes by car from Grasmere).
- HAWKSHEAD Grammar School – the William Wordsworth’s school: Hawkshead Grammar School in Hawkshead, Cumbria, England was founded in 1585 by Archbishop Edwin Sandys, of York, who petitioned a charter from Queen Elizabeth I to set up a governing body. The early School taught Latin, Greek and sciences, including arithmetic and geometry. Although the School closed in 1909, the building functions today as Hawkshead Grammar School Museum and is open to the public.
- Main St, Hawkshead, Ambleside LA22 0NT, UK. (9.5 mi, 23 minutes by car from Grasmere).
- GRIZEDALE Forest: In the heart of the Lakes, between Coniston and Windermere you’ll find Grizedale Forest. Explore the miles of waymarked paths on foot or bike, taking in the unrivalled views of the lakes and mountains under the shelter of the trees and amazing forest sculptures. Cumbrian are lucky to have so many forests and woodlands remaining. Here are two to explore: Grizedale, between the lakes of Coniston and Windermere, offers stunning walking and cycling trails. Whinlatter is England’s only true mountain forest, with great views, challenging trails and adventure play area for the kids. If you’re looking for some high adrenaline activities why not hire an all-terrain forest Segway or bring out your inner-Tarzan and tackle the zip-wires and high ropes on the Go Ape Tree Top course (Go Ape Grizedale, Hawkshead, Cumbria, LA22 0QJ).
- GRIZEDALE FOREST & VISITOR CENTRE: Grizedale, Hawkshead, Cumbria, LA22 0QJ, UK. (13.5 mi, 39 minutes by car from Grasmere).
- WINDERMERE Lake Cruises: Explore the beauty of England’s largest lake by boat and take in the wonderful views of mountain scenery, secluded bays and the many wooded islands. With a wide choice of trips ranging from 45 minutes to 3 hours in duration, or even a whole day’s cruise, you can plot your route around the attractions you want to visit.
- Bowness Pier, postcode: LA23 3HQ (10 mi, 22 minutes by car from Grasmere).
- Ambleside Pier (Waterhead), postcode: LA22 0EY
- Lakeside Pier, postcode: LA12 8AS
- RYDAL MOUNT and Gardens: Between Ambleside and Grasmere and with magnificent views of Windermere, Rydal Water and the fells stands the best loved family home of William Wordsworth where he lived from 1813 to 1850. Tour the house, walk in the gardens and take in the scenery that moved Wordsworth to write some of his best loved romantic literature.
- Rydal Mount, Ambleside, Lake District, LA22 9LU, UK. Tel.: +44 (0) 15394 33002. (2.5 mi, 6 minutes by car from Grasmere).
- WATERSPORTS: The Watersports Centre at Low Wood Bay, with its extensive range of equipment and an inspiring setting on Lake Windermere, against a backdrop of the Lakeland fells is a great location for getting out on the water.
- Ambleside Rd, Windermere, LA23 1LP, UK. (5.8 mi, 14 minutes by car from Grasmere).
- BROCKHOLE: Between Ambleside and Windermere, you’ll find Brockhole, the National Park Visitor Centre. With 30 acres of magnificent gardens to explore as well as mini golf, archery and pony riding there’s plenty to keep everyone busy. Go caving, orienteering and cycling or children over 5 years can try the 35 treetop challenges including aerial rope bridges and wobbly logs and a fabulous 250 metre triple zip down to the shoreline. Take a lake cruise from the Brockhole jetty, or if you’re happier on terra firma, there’s always an exhibition to view, a lovely gift shop and a restaurant/tea room.
- Brockhole on Windermere, Windermere, Cumbria LA23 1LJ, UK. (6.6 mi, 15 minutes by car from Grasmere).
- BRANTWOOD – John Ruskin’s home: Brantwood, on the shores of Coniston Water, was the home of John Ruskin, one of the greatest figures of the Victorian age. Ruskin was a poet, an artist, a critic, a social revolutionary and a conservationist.
- Brantwood Coniston, Cumbria, LA21 8AD, UK. (15.3 mi, 50 minutes by car from Grasmere).
Must-do activities at Lake District
- FOUNTAINS ABBEY & Studley Royal Water Garden: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located a couple of miles outside Ripon. Be prepared to walk around… a lot. Around ponds, through trees, and up a steep hill which will get you a breathtaking “surprise view” of the abbey. This UNESCO Site is a great area to spend the day exploring, hiking, admiring, and having afternoon tea.
- Fountains, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 3DY, UK. (90-100 mi, 2,10-2,35h by car from Grasmere).
- HAREWOOD House: Harewood House, built in the 1760s by Edwin Lascelles, is renowned for its magnificent Robert Adam interiors. It is also home to superb Thomas Chippendale furniture and a world class collection of paintings by, amongst others, JMW Turner, Reynolds, Titian and El Greco. It has been home to the Lascelles family since it was build, reflecting the changing tastes and styles of the past 250 years. Harewood House is also home to the first contemporary art gallery to be opened in a country house. The Terrace Gallery hosts a changing programme of exhibitions and has welcomed artists including Sir Sidney Nolan, Antony Gormley, and Henry Moore.
- Harewood House Trust, Harewood House Harewood, Leeds LS17 9LG, UK. Tel. 0113 218 1010. (90 mi, 2,30h by car from Grasmere).
- HADRIAN’s Wall – UNESCO World Heritage Site: A whole industry has grown up around coast-to-coast walks along the route of the wall, but you will be in awe of the most famous Roman frontier just by following a stretch of it in Cumbria. Visit Birdoswald Roman Fort (58,4mi, 1,13h by car from Grasmere) and look across the longest remaining stretch of the wall.
- CASTLE Howard: near York, is one of Britain’s finest stately homes. A magnificent historic house in the north of England with ornate interiors and landscaped gardens. It is a private residence, and has been the home of the Carlisle branch of the Howard family for more than 300 years. Arguably the finest Baroque stately home in Britain, with a spectacular Great Hall under the painted and gilded dome 80 feet high. It contains fabulous collections of paintings and, notably, classical sculpture. Known to many as the location of ‘Brideshead’ in the television series and now in the recently launched new feature film. The park is designed on a heroic scale covering 1,000 acres. The gardens, with their formal baroque layout between two lakes and famous Prince of Wales Fountain, also include such memorable sights as the Temple of Four Winds, the Cascade and the Mausoleum. The Walled Garden has collections of old and modern roses, and Ray Wood has a unique collection of rhododendrons, rare trees, magnolias and azaleas. Winner of the Historic Houses Garden of the Year Award 2011.
- Castle Howard, York YO60 7DA, UK. (127 mi, 2,34h by car from Grasmere).
7 THINGS YOU MUST DO!
1. VISIT AIRA FORCE WATERFALL
Probably the most Lake District waterfall, the main force falls 70 feet from below a stone footbridge and from there you can also head to Gowbarrow summit for stunning views of Ullswater. There is landscaped Victorian park and a welcome tea room.
2. TRAVEL THE LENGTH OF WINDERMERE
Lake Windermere is the biggest natural expanse of water in England, at nearly 11 miles long, up to one mile wide and up to 220 feet deep. It is surrounded by magnificent mountain scenery and you can travel the entire length with Windermere Lake Cruises from Bowness, Ambleside or Lakeside.
3. BAG A WAINWRIGHT OR TWO
The Wainwrights are the 214 hills and mountains described in author-climber A.J Wainwright’s Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells. It’s a mission by some to complete all of them; you could start with just one, perhaps the distinctive Cat Bells overlooking Keswick and Derwentwater.
4. DON’T MISS THE PASSES
They’re a challenge, but the steep mountain roads simply have to be experienced. Kirkstone Pass is the Lake District’s highest pass open to cars. It connects Ambleside to Patterdale and is known by locals as The Struggle. Hardknott Pass heads west and is the steepest road in England, with a maximum gradient of 1 in 3.
5. RIDE THE LA’AL RATTY
The Lake District has a few steam railways but arguably the one with most character is the
scaled-down Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, known locally as the La’al Ratty. It’s a great ride for the whole family, ambling through beautiful countryside and offering scenic views and cafes and shops at both ends.
6. SAMPLE CUMBRIAN DELICACIES
Don’t just view the county, taste it. Cumberland Sausage is a famous national dish but local butchers all have their own versions. Grasmere Gingerbread is a delicious cross between cake and a biscuit. Cumberland Rum Nicky is a dessert of shortcrust pastry, dates, brown sugar and rum. And the list goes on …
7. LAUREL & HARDY MUSEUM
You won’t find this anywhere else in the world so you have to make time for a visit. The museum devoted to famous comedy duo Laurel and Hardy is in Ulverston, where Stan Laurel was born in 1890. There is an amazing collection of memorabilia about Stan and Ollie.
10 Reasons to Love Lake District
Cumbria Wildlife Trust manages 44 nature reserves across the county. You could see ospreys, seals, red squirrels, rare plants… you are simply surrounded by wildlife.
2. THE MOUNTAINS
The Lakeland fells are spectacular. They are enjoyed by walkers. They are admired by those who have no inclination to climb them. They are an essential part of the view and it wouldn’t be the Lake District without them. Scafell Pike is Lakeland’s and England’s highest peak at 3,210ft (978m).
3. THE COAST
Don’t forget that Cumbria also has a stunning coastline. St Bees has rocky cliffs, seabird colonies and views across to the Isle of Man. This and other Victorian seaside resorts – Allonby, Silloth and Seascale – have great, clean beaches. The coast’s industrial heritage is also marked in a number of museums.
4. WORLD HERITAGE SITES
The Lake District recently become a World Heritage Site, joining iconic locations such as the Taj Mahal, Great Barrier Reef, Grand Canyon and also Hadrian’s Wall on the northern border of Cumbria. Yes, there are two sites of international acclaim here, the place is that special.
5. THE LAKE POETS
Cumbria has inspired many writers over the years, who in turn have brought visitors to the county. William Wordsworth remains England’s most famous poet, April 2020 will see the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wordsworth and the Wordsworth Trust has created ‘Reimagining Wordsworth’ to celebrate the poet’s life and times ( see page 20 ), and Beatrix Potter’s children’s stories are still popular today. Then there’s Ransome, Coleridge, Wainwright, Southey and don’t forget Postman Pat author John Cunliffe!
The Lake District is known as The Adventure Capital of the UK and there’s so much fun to be had on its mountains and waterways, in its forests and in the air. Wild swimming, kayaking, mountain biking, paragliding, climbing, golf, running, cycling, horse riding, quad biking, zorbing, paintballing and much more.
7. KENDAL MINT CAKE
This has fuelled adventurous types since Romneys of Kendal started making it in 1918. It’s a wonderful, if sweet, source of energy – a glucose-based confectionery flavoured with peppermint – and has actually helped climbers conquer Mount Everest, so they have said.
8. THE LAKES
There are 16 lakes in the Lake District but only one, Bassenthwaite Lake, is officially a lake by name. Windermere is the longest and Wastwater is the deepest – those are English records, too. The waters are quiet – only Windermere, Coniston Water, Ullswater and Derwentwater have regular boat services.
9. WORLD’S BIGGEST LIAR
Quirky fact number one: The World’s Biggest Liar competition is held every November at The Bridge Inn, Santon Bridge. Every competitor – and they flock here from around the world – have five minutes to tell the biggest, most convincing lie they can. Apparently, politicians and lawyers are experts so are not allowed to enter.
10. HIDDEN GEM
Eden is a beautiful corner of Cumbria taking in the lakes and mountains around Ullswater, part of the Lake District National Park and the moorlands of the North Pennines around Alston, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. And for this reason the Eden Valley is visited time and again by those who have discovered it. The River Eden, one of the finest salmon and trout rivers in the North of England, rises in Mallerstang, and flows through the old market towns of Kirkbv Stephen and Appleby.
Cruise on Derwentwater (Keswick).
Lakeland by horses, ponies & cars:
Lakeland Pony Treks (Windermere).
Allan Bank and Grasmere (Grasmere).
Lakeland Farm Visitor Centre (Meadow Bank Farm, Ings, Cumbria, LA8 9QF, 26 Minutes 11,1 mi by car from Grasmere).
The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction (Bowness-on-Windermere).
Bolton Castle “The Ultimate Medieval Experience” (1:48h 54,9mi by car from Grasmere).
The Rough Guide to the Lake District (Travel Guide) (Rough Guides) by Rough Guides, 2017.
Wild Guide Lake District and Yorkshire Dales: Hidden Places and Great Adventures – Including Bowland and South Pennines by Daniel Start, 2016
Lonely Planet Pocket Lake District (Travel Guide) by Lonely Planet and Oliver Berry, 2019.
Top 10 Lake District (Pocket Travel Guide) by DK Eyewitness, 2018.
Man About Tarn: How A Londoner Learned To Love The Lake District by Pete May, 2018.
The Lake Poets
Walking with Wordsworth: in the Lake District by Norman Buckley and June Buckley, 2010.
Literary Walks : Lake District walks with links to Wordsworth & Beatrix Potter (Lake District Top 10 Walks) by Steve Goodier, 2014.
The Lake Poets by Gavin D. Smith, 2010.
The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District by James Rebanks, 2016.
Home at Grasmere: Extracts from the Journal of Dorothy Wordsworth and from the Poems of William Wordsworth (Penguin Classics) by Dorothy Wordsworth, William Wordsworth , et al.
Wainwrights in Verse: The Poetical Guide to the Lake District Fells by Mr John Phoenix Hutchinson, 2015.
The Collected Poems of William Wordsworth (Wordsworth Poetry) (Wordsworth Poetry Library) by William Wordsworth.
At Home with Beatrix Potter: The Creator of Peter Rabbit by Susan Denyer, 2009.
Letters From the Lake Poets, Vol. 8: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Robert Southey (Classic Reprint) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 2018.
Companions of Nature: A Lake Poets Anthology by Will Smith and Polly Atkin, 2019.
‘To begin, then, with the main outlines of the country;I know not how to give the reader a distinct image of these more readily, than by requesting him to place himself with me, in imagination, upon some given point; let it be the top of either of the mountains, Great Gavel, or Scawfell; or, rather, let us suppose our station to be a cloud hanging midway between those two mountains, at not more than half a mile’s distance from the summit of each, and not many yards above their highest elevation; we shall then see stretched at our feet a number of valleys, not fewer than eight, diverging from the point, on which we are supposed to stand, like spokes from the nave of a wheel.’
From Guide to the Lakes by William Wordsworth.