A little way from the main road from Ambleside
lies the village of Grasmere
, a cluster of mainly grey buildings in a shallow valley beneath a ring of rounded hills. Although many of the present buildings date from the 19th Century, the village is much older and was in existence as early as the 7th Century, when St Oswald
reputedly preached there. The annual Rush Bearing
, held each August, is an old custom dating from medieval times when church floors were strewn with rushes. The present church dates from the 13th Century and it is here that William Wordsworth
is buried. The poet’s grave is marked by a simple slate slab.
Wordsworth spent a large part of his life in and around Grasmere. His former home, Dove Cottage, is now a museum and contains not only many of Wordsworth’s manuscripts, but those of his friends and other poets and writers associated with this small village. These include Scott, Lamb, Coleridge, Ruskin, Matthew Arnold, Southey and others. After Wordsworth left Dove Cottage, de Quincey, author of “Confessions of an English Opium Eater”, lived there and unfortunately became an addict to that very drug.
Grasmere Lake is only about a mile in length. It is in a beautiful setting, with a small island in its middle. The western bank is wooded. The lake is a short distance from the village. It is worth climbing up to Loughrigg Terrace, a short distance from Grasmere, to enjoy one of the loveliest views in the area.
Naturally, Grasmere is quite a busy tourist destination, especially with poetry lovers. There is plenty of accommodation and many gift, shops, galleries, cafés and shops. But in spite of the commercialism it is still possible to escape the crowds and discover that “bliss of solitude” prized by Wordsworth.
The famous daffodils, which fringed the lake in the well-known poem, grew beside Rydal Water
, and the small Lakeland daffodils can still be seen here in the spring. Rydal Mount was another of the poet’s homes and is also a museum today. Rydal is only a short distance from Grasmere, on the way to Ambleside. It is possible to walk from Grasmere to Rydal Water, passing the Rydal Caves
, a disused slate quarry.
There are numerous lovely routes for the walker around Grasmere. The Langdale Valley is close as are the Langdale Pikes. The village is also a good centre from which to climb Helvellyn. Whilst walking, the more romantic may be able to imagine Wordsworth composing most of his poetry as he walked the same paths. And not only Worsdworth but also Coleridge and many others. Even today, poets and writers are inspired by this area and such well-known authors as Melvyn Bragg have used this lovely background to their tales.