Grasmere and the Bluebells at White Moss Wood round
Cumbria is a large county in North West England and contains the Lake District and Lake District National Park. It is bounded to the north by the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, to the west by the Irish Sea, to the south by Lancashire, to the south east by North Yorkshire, and to the east by County Durham and Northumberland. Cumbria is very mountainous containing every peak in England over 3,000ft above sea level with Scafell Pike being England’s highest mountain at 978 m (3,209ft). Cumbria is also one of England’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty attracting mountain climbers, hikers and walkers, cyclists, runners and tourists and holds a source of inspiration for artists, writers and musicians. Cumbria consists of six districts Eden, Carlisle, Allerdale, Copeland, South Lakeland and Barrow-in-Furness.
The Lake District is an area with stunning scenery located within in the County of Cumbria. Commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland it was granted National Park status on 9th May 1951 less than a month after the first UK designated National Park, The Peak District. It is the largest of thirteen National Parks in England and Wales and the largest in the UK after the Cairngorms. The Lake District National Park itself covers an area of 885 square miles and stretches 30 miles from Ravenglass in the west to Shap in the east and 35 miles from Caldbeck in the north to Lindale in the south. Crammed with so much natural beauty the Lakes attract visitors, tourists and holiday makers from all over the world. As the name suggests there are many lakes each with their own uniqueness, amenities and activities such as lakeside walks, sailing, waterskiing, boat trips and ferries. All of the lakes except Bassenthwaite Lake are named by water, tarn or mere and are surrounded by stunning scenery and magnificent fells. There are some wonderful towns to explore such as Keswick, Windermere, Ambleside, Kendal, Hawkshead, Grasmere and Cockermouth all with a splendid mixture of shops, cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants. There are also many museums, theatres, historic homes, gardens and many easy walks for the not so energetic visitor wishing not to climb the fells. William Wordsworth the famous British poet was born in Cockermouth and later lived in Grasmere where he wrote some of his best works before moving to Rydal Mount near Ambleside for his last 37 years. Both places are open to visitors and so is Brantwood home to John Ruskin until his death. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and Thomas de Quincey all followed Wordsworth to the Lake District. Arthur Ransome, author of Swallows and Amazons, also grew to love the lakes and settled in the Winster Valley near Windermere. The painters Thomas Gainsborough, JMW Turner and John Constable were early visitors to the lakes but it was John Ruskin who settled here at Brantwood on the shore of Coniston Water. Farming and especially sheep farming has been historically and still is the main industry of the Lake District. The tough Herdwick breed with their stocky build and distinctive grey coat are especially hardy for the Lakeland fells and its weather. Sheep farming has probably been here since Viking times and is an important factor both to the economy of the lakes as well as in preserving the stunning landscape which attracts visitors and hence income to the region. Walking is a big attraction in the Lake District whether strolling around the low lying lakes or climbing up into the mountainous fells whichever is undertaken the scenery is magnificent. Alfred Wainwright’s famous hand written book, The Pictorial Guide to the Lake District, published in 1955 is a collection of seven books each illustrated with his unique style and charm of the 214 fells inspiring many visitors and tourists from all over the world.
Grasmere village is a very pretty and popular tourist destination. It is situated on the River Rothay which flows into Grasmere Lake from where the village takes its name. Surrounded by hills the village is overlooked from the north-west by the rocky hill of Helm Crag also known as “The Lion and the Lamb” or the “Old Lady at the Piano”. These names are derived from the shape of rock formations on its summit depending on which side you view it from. To the east it is overlooked by Heron Pike and Great Rigg on the western ridge of the Fairfield horseshoe. To the south-east by Loughrigg Fell and to the west the long ridge comes down from High Raise. There are a number of walks that start from Grasmere and the village is also on the route of Alfred Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk. Grasmere is home to Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread and the famous Grasmere Gingerbread Shop can be found at Church Cottage tucked away at the corner of St Oswald’s churchyard. Church Cottage which was built in 1630 was originally the village school. William Wordsworth who described the village as “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found” lived in Grasmere for fourteen years. Dove Cottage located on the main road just outside the village was once an inn and became the home of the famous poet William Wordsworth for 8 years in 1799. He married Mary in 1802 and three of his five children were born there. Dove Cottage, the Wordsworth Museum next door and Dove Cottage Garden, which has been restore to the half wild state that William and his sister Dorothy created, are all open to the public. Wordsworth moved to Allan Bank in Grasmere village to accommodate his growing family and finally in 1813 to Rydal Mount in Rydal until his death in 1850. He is buried in St Oswald’s Parish Churchyard alongside his wife Mary, daughter Dora and other family members. Next to the church is a Daffodil Garden in memory of the poet.
Grasmere Lake, one of the Lake District’s smaller lakes, is both fed and drained by the River Rothay which rises close to Rough Crag above Dunmail Raise and flows through the village of Grasmere before entering the lake and then exits downstream into Rydal Water then continues south to merge with the River Brathay. The rivers then continue into the northern end of Windermere. The lake containing a single island known simply as The Island is leased by the Lowther Estate to the National Trust.
White Moss Wood is a wonderful bluebell wood situated between Grasmere Lake and Rydal Water. There are two car parks close by, on either side of the A591, one of which has public toilets.
Loughrigg Terrace is a well known level path which runs across Loughrigg Fell and provides superb views of Grasmere, Helm Crag and the Fairfield group. The dip between the hills, where the road to Keswick disappears, is known as Dunmail Raise, named after King Dunmail, the last king of the ancient Cumbrians who it is said to be buried at the summit. Just below Helm Crag is Allan Bank one of Wordsworth’s homes. Just beyond the eastern end of the Terrace are some interesting caves caused by quarrying. They delve into the hillside for about 46 metres (150 feet) and are often full of water.
Loughrigg Fell, an open access area with many entrances, is easily accessible as it is surrounded by road on all sides. The fell, with a summit of 335 metres, is also surrounded by water by the rivers of Rothay and Brathay and the lakes of Grasmere, Rydal Water, Loughrigg Tarn, Elterwater and just in the distance most of Windermere.
From the car park we turn right and head into Grasmere village to St Oswald’s church. After a look round the churchyard, Wordsworth’s grave and the Daffodil Garden we take the lane opposite to the right of Grasmere Garden Village. We now head forwards bearing left at a junction coming in from the right and follow Red Bank Road. The minor road eventually starts going slightly uphill. At Lee Cottage on the left which has a post box in its wall and opposite a turn to a private driveway we keep bearing left for a short way then go through a gate on the left and head downhill to Grasmere lakeside. We now turn right and follow the lakeside path until we reach a gate. We go through the gate, this is where we see the first mass of bluebells on the hillside, and head downhill to the weir at the end of the lake. We now head forwards with the weir on our right and take the path to the left to pass a wooden footbridge. We keep heading forwards to pass through a gate into White Moss Wood and a carpet of bluebells. We follow the track through the wood and when we reach a footbridge on our left we turn right following the footpath sign for Loughrigg Terrace and Rydal Water. We keep following the track through the wood and the bluebells until we come to a gate. We go through the gate and turn right uphill for a short way. The path splits and we take the higher path signposted with a blue arrow to the left and head forwards along Loughrigg Terrace. We go through a gate into the trees and immediately go through the gate on the right with a wooden plaque with an arrow and Grasmere on it. We keep following the track downhill until we come to a gate. We go through the gate and turn right onto the road heading downhill. We pass Lee Cottage with the post box in its wall and continue on the minor road retracing our steps back to Grasmere and the car park.
This is an easy walk on quiet minor road and good footpaths and tracks with only slight inclines and declines.
Elevation: Approx lowest point 58.10m (190.6ft) approx highest point 137.60m (451.44ft)
Distance and Start Point
Approx 4.75 miles allow 2-3 hours using OS Explorer Map OL7, The English Lakes South-eastern area.
Start point: Grasmere Pay and Display car park just on the right before the village.
Grasmere is in the Lake District, Cumbria.
Directions and Parking
From the A66 at Threlkeld take the B5322 on the left. At the t-junction at Legburthwaite turn left onto the A591 which runs by the side of Thirlmere. At the roundabout turn right into Grasmere and the car park is just on the right.
Parking: There are three Pay and Display car parks in Grasmere.
Toilets and Refreshments
There are public toilets in the pay and display car park on the right just before the village and also in the village near the police station. For refreshments in Grasmere there are three pubs the Red Lion, the Wordsworth Hotel and Spar and the Grasmere Hotel plus there are many cafes and other places to eat and drink. There are also plenty of shops to browse round. There are two more pubs nearby on the A591 the Swan Inn and the Daffodil Hotel and Spar. The nearest town is Ambleside.