Grasmere (village)

Grasmere sits in a dramatic bowl in the hills, surrounded by craggy fells. Most famous of these is Helm Crag, to the north-west, while the ridge to the south west runs all the way from Silver How onto the Langdale Pikes. The highest ground is to the east of the village, where another dramatic ridge runs up from Heron Pike to Fairfield.

Grasmere is actually a rather larger community than most visitors realise. As well as the touristy heart of the village, Grasmere includes two sizable areas on the main road, one to the north-east and Town End to the east, and also extends north-west towards Easedale. 

Grasmere lake is just to the south of the village. The lakeshore itself is actually surprisingly inaccessible, with one stretch of footpath on the southern shore, but it is best viewed from Loughrigg Terrace on the northern slopes of Loughrigg.

Grasmere is perhaps best known for its association with the poet William Wordsworth, who lived in the village between 1799 and 1813. Although he actually spent much longer at Rydal (from 1813 to his death in 1850), most of his best known poems were written in Grasmere.

Wordsworth and his family lived in three different houses in Grasmere. The best known is Dove Cottage, their home from 1799 until 1808. By then the family had outgrown the cottage, and moved to Allen Bank, a large white house at the northern side of the village. From there they went to the Rectory, and then finally to Rydal. Despite this final move Wordsworth, his wife and his sister are all buried at Grasmere.

Dove Cottage is the main tourist attraction, and is located to the east of the main village, on the opposite side of the A 591 in the outlying community of Town End. The cottage is open to the public.

After Wordsworth moved out, Thomas de Quincey moved in. Like many of the Romatic poets he was an opium addict and amongst his publications was the Confession of an English Opium Eater. He also wrote a valuable book on the Lake Poets, Recollections of the Lakes and the Lake Poets.

The Church of St. Oswald dates back at least to the 13th Century, and before the Reformation belonged to the Abbey of St. Mary, York. The church is the site of an ancient rush bearing ceremony, carried out on the Saturday nearest to 5 August by the local children.

The Grasmere Sports are held on the Thursday nearest to 20 August. Amongst the sports included are Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, fell racing and hound trailing.

Grasmere Gingerbread has been made for over a century, to a secret recipe. It is currently made in a tiny shop on the eastern side of the village which was once the village school room. The gingerbread is unlike any other, and is well worth investigating. 

The village contains the Heaton Cooper Studio, a gallery and shop dedicated to the paintings of the Heaton Cooper family,

Parking can be very difficult in Grasmere. One alternative is to park in the fomer National Trust car park at White Moss Common (or the National Park car park opposite), and to then follow either the footpath that climbs up between that minor hill and Heron Crag, or the minor lane that curves around the base of the hill, avoiding the main road on its way to Town End and Dove Cottage.

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