Thursday, 3 November 2011

Grasmere, Cumbria

Grasmere is one of the Central Lakes in The English Lake district. It is surrounded by hills and mountains including Loughrigg Fell to the south east in a previous post and overlooked in the title photo to the north west by Helm Crag.

(This post is a story of two days with the second half taken later at the end of the week on my way home. I decided to combine the Lake and the village into one as I felt that the strength of the village material wasn't good enough to stand on it's own for a couple of reasons .... I'll explain later)

As I was driving north from Ambleside on my way to do a hill walk, I noticed some magnificent reflections on Grasmere but as there was no-where to stop on the busy road, I had to continue on and use one of the Grasmere village car parks at £1:80 for the hour ... I was going to make sure that I got my moneys worth ! Unfortunately by the time I walked back the wind was starting to pick up and the reflections had started to disappear ... shame.

Not being one to be beaten about badly by a photographic situation, I decided to look for alternative material.

Found a stick to beat myself up with !!!

more sticks !!  ...  Jetty and picnic table

Lakeshore colours

As there were only so many photos I could take it was time to use up the hour with a sometimes light hearted look at some nearby William Wordsworth material ....

Dove Cottage

William Wordsworth the poet lived in this former public house (early 1600's) for 9 years from 1799 to 1808 during which time he wrote poems such as Ode to Duty, My heart leaps and I wandered lonely as a cloud. Wordsworth married in 1802 and three children later had to move to a larger house in Grasmere and subsequently Rydal Mount a few miles further south.
The cottage was sold to a literary friend, Thomas De Quincey, who seemed to attract just as much interest with his private life as what Wordsworth did.
The Wordsworth Trust managed to achieve possession of the building in 1890 with a view to preserving the Wordsworth heritage. About 70, 000 people visit the site each year....

The peaceful Wordsworth Trust !!

"I wandered lonely as a cement mixer !" ... building site tours optional, hard hats provided ... free of charge if you can justify your visit on Health and safety grounds !!

The Garden

Wordsworth Street ... awaiting the coach parties ...

Mass visitor entrance ... " I wandered lonely as a crowd" !!

The Church of  Wordsworth's burial
Moving on to part 2 of the post and Grasmere village (on a later day in the week) where it would have been difficult to choose a title image and the light was particularly unkind to me in most of the shots.

On the other side of the road from the church is the small National Trust shop which is located on a difficult road bend with no path on that side. Consequently to my shame I realise that it is a building that I have never entered although as you can see it is best observed from this side of the road. It also incorporates a small information centre and would seem like a good place to start a visit to Grasmere village but as it is located half way between two of the main car parks, visitors tend to get "lost" in some of the other shopping attractions first. The early history of this building is a little vague but the earliest recorded resident was living here during the 1660's and was later converted to an Inn which William Wordsworth occasionally patronised.

Eh ? where are all the people ?

Back across the road, next to the churchyard, one of Grasmere village's traditions for the tourist other than Wordsworth is a visit to the Gingerbread shop. The recipe invented remains unique and secret and is unlike any other textured gingerbread that you will ever taste. Sarah Nelson had a hard life in the 19th century as a top cook and marriage to a farm labourer and part time grave digger didn't solve her financial problems. Fortunately for her at the height of the mid 19th century Victorian tourist boom, she was encouraged to sell her wares to the passing visitors.

.... oh they've arrived !

Before Sarah died, the recipe was passed on to her niece partnering with another male family member who in turn sold the business to his nephew in 1969. The shop remains much the same today as what it was in 1854 with the exception of the attire of the visitors !!

Just around the corner Wordsworth's solicitors may be preparing a plagiarism case for use of Wordsworth's signature & the words "The loveliest spot that man hath ever known" ! I'm sure it's a lovely Hotel & hope it lives up to "what it says on the tin" but my years of Lake District accommodation experience prove that Grasmere village attracts a different sort of customer and the thought in my head every time I pass this sign is to convert "loveliest" to "dearest" ... and that might keep the solicitors at arms length for a while !!

From the beginning of the mid 19th century Victorian tourist boom, Artists have been visiting The Lake District to capture a landscape that their mentors had inspired them with. These days the landscape lovers come to Grasmere mainly to appreciate the art of (Alfred) Heaton Cooper who began to display and sell his work at the turn of the 20th century. His son (William) Heaton Cooper continued the great family art name up to the present by building the current studio in 1938. It would appear that the present generation have carried on the family name although not in the landscape speciality that their ancestors are famous for. As I thought it unfair to photograph copyright material, so consequently I took a sneaky general photo from the doorway.

Those that can't afford the Heaton Cooper prices or feel that they need to buy if they enter can sit on a seat across the road and ..... errr .... enjoy the view of the studio instead knowing that their money for evening meal is safe !!

These days the artist in everyone at Grasmere get their camera or phones out to capture this view from the bridge across the stream.

From the above two images you can see that drinking tea whilst observing beautiful scenery is for those who choose not to capture the moment !

Just to the left of the Heaton Cooper studio is a sign post that I did not notice before. In the English Lake District, there is a definite divide amongst the visitors, hillwalkers or tourists although the dividing line in my case is a little blurred as this observation and comment shows. The former use Grasmere as an expensive car park while the latter in some cases choose not to read a map at their peril !!

Lastly, after all that walking around, it's time to buy a few souvenirs and gifts to take home while the rest of the family continue to relax and wait outside patiently ...


  1. Lovely village, beautiful photos! But I am a little bit confused now. Are there 2 locations: a Wodsworth and a Wadsworth, which is not so far from Newcastle, and where I went for the castle and the sea??? Please help, J_on_tour!

  2. Framing is brilliant. Love the photos with reflections. What souvenirs did you buy? :)

  3. Another great place to visit - I love jetty and picnic table hidden in the summer flowers. Such a lovely view!
    I wonder what Wordsworth would say if he could see this hotel and spa called with his own name:)

  4. Travelling Hawk... thanks. In the post I was talking about the poet William Wordsworth. Wadsworth is a remote village in Yorkshire with it's focus being on the nearby town of Hebden bridge (a picturesque high pennine canal town ... a place I was at in May this year & still to blog about). Wodsworth as far as I know according to google doesn't exist. Castles and the sea near where I live are Lindisfarne, Bamburgh, Warkworth (probably the one that you are thinking of ) & Tynemouth Priory almost looks castle like. Hope that clears up any confusion.

    Rizalenio... Thanks, I enjoyed my 30 minutes searching & setting up the Lakeshore shots. The second time I was there, I had a bit more time and was essentially looking for boxes of biscuits to take home for family and work colleagues. Other than that, I have been here many times before and ... my camera saves me spending in the shops.

  5. Joo... I don't know any history about the building but it's maybe not as old as it looks. I'm not sure if Wordsworth would have approved of the mass commercialism of Grasmere village but he would have had a secret smile at the chaos he caused ... ha ha

  6. I am swooning over the picture of the jetty and the picnic table.

  7. As I am very interest in poetry I have to make more research about the poet William Wordsworth!

    "My heart leaps and I wandered lonely as a cloud".
    So beautiful!!
    It takes only a small line and he touched me..

    Thank you, my dear J !

  8. an amazing picture with the boat! I am also fascinated with the colors of the lake and its surroundings

  9. Wonderful. As I am very interest in poetry I have to make more research about the poet William Wordsworth.

  10. The third-to-last caption reminds me that for me there often seems to be a dilemma between simply enjoying the scenery and capturing it in my memory...or possibly missing out on that by spending time trying to get a good shot with the camera.

    There's a reason why people flock to these places: they're gorgeous! I've mentioned it before, but the stone, the hills, the lakes all make for such beauty we all want to take in.

    I loved reading Sarah's story. There's something so inspirational about someone making a good product and it becoming a family business that spans generations!

  11. A peaceful lake and beautiful houses,
    I want to walking around and take
    some photos there!

  12. Ciao J., this lake offers a wonderful show, the story of Sarah Nelson is also nice to know!

    Have a good day!

  13. Your post has brought back fond memories of visits to the Lake District.

    It is an amazingly beautiful place to photograph and you have captured some great scenes.

    Thank you :-)

  14. 'I am a lake, my poem is an empty boat, and my life is the breeze that blows through the whole scene'Billy Collins
    Collins used the words better than I could have used for describing my feelings when I saw your images.
    Anyway, you know that sometimes I am a princess
    and sometimes I am a lake....can you see me in lake's reflection? I am there, I am anywhere there is a lake...So you can change the post name : 'Grasmere, Cumbria, a princess and her reflection!'

    Hey, J! It is a long time since I have been here , but it doesn't mean that I forgot the place where I found my castle, my favorite view of mountains, my sheeps under my favorite tree, my tiny, cosy streets and their stories and of course, my favorite biscuits.

    Are you ok? 'Yes', is the answer! I am happy for you! See you soon!

  15. Such exquisite photos of a beautiful area. I love the scenes of the lake and hills--just lovely. The quaint cottages, the old shops built from stone that line the street,the church cemetery---I'd love to visit and explore this "step back in time" place. Thanks for a wonderful tour! Have a great weekend. Mickie :)

  16. The grey houses on Wordsworth street, with their walls made of small stones, fascinate me. So does the story of Grasmere gingerbread shop.

    The Lake District scenery is every person with a camera's dream. You are not just a guy with a camera; you're a very skillful photographer. Your pictures are the proof of that.

  17. Lovely reflections of a beautiful area of the country.

  18. The village looks typically English doesn't it? At least for tourists admiring old English cottages, stone and brick buildings like me... It must have been an interesting outing. And I especially like the photo of the jetty and picnic table, it radiates peace and cheerfulness to me.


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