6. Grasmere - Lake District Photoguide Plus
6

Grasmere

Just north of Rydal is the lake and village of Grasmere. Grasmere is also one of the smaller lakes, and like Rydal is famous for its connections with the poet William Wordsworth. He lived at Dove Cottage from 1799 to 1808.

The village of Grasmere is at the north end of the lake, and is a bustling little centre, with shops, cafes, hotels and guesthouses. Standing at the south end of the village is St. Oswald’s Church; this imposing building dates back to the 13th Century, and once served the neighbouring valley of Rydal, as well as all of the Langdale valley across the hills to the west. At the northern entrance to the churchyard is a tiny shop which sells one Lakeland’s tastiest treats: Grasmere Gingerbread. The recipe is a closely-guarded secret, and the gingerbread is made on-site; on baking days the aroma outside is wonderful (and irresistible).

Being close to the centre of the National Park, Grasmere is one of the best starting-points for walking, and with hills on all sides of the valley, there is plenty of choice. Perhaps the hill with the most striking outlines is the pyramid-shaped Helm Crag (405m) which stands to the north of the village. The pyramid shape is something of an illusion as Helm Crag is really just the end of a steep-sided ridge, but its rocky summit does not disappoint; the distinctive rocks at the south end of Helm Crag’s summit are known as The Lion and The Lamb.

One of the most popular walks from Grasmere leads up into the hills north-west of the village to the mountain lake of Easedale Tarn. On the way to the tarn, the path passes by the attractive waterfalls of Sourmilk Gill, which are particularly impressive after a spell of heavy rain. Above the waterfalls the path takes a left-hand turn up to the tarn, which although just two miles from the village, has a real sense of wilderness. This walk has been popular since Victorian times, so much so that there was once even a refreshments hut here.

One of the easiest paths for novice hill-walkers is on the eastern side of the valley, where an old cart-track zig-zags up to Alcock Tarn. The tarn stands at the height of about 360m, and is actually a small reservoir, but the views over Grasmere are stunning.