Posted by: brigid benson | February 29, 2012

Lake District: Grasmere

William Wordsworth    Dove Cottage    Gingerbread   Stepping stones  

A blog entry in honour of Leap Day 2012!

Daffodil season is upon us and I took time to pay homage to poet  William Wordsworth in Grasmere at the heart of the English Lake District. As ever,the pictures are taken on the camera of my phone.

In this slate grey village embraced by the fells, wandering Wordsworth composed his celebration of  England’s doughty native yellow flowers;  Daffodils. Here’s the first verse:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze


I was too early to see the native daffodils in flower, they were budding up ready to bloom in a few weeks.  At Dove Cottage, where Wordsworth lived with his sister, Dorothy, wife Mary and their children, the garden created by the family was sleepy too. Yet there was an air of promise and local slates in the vegetable patch were inscribed with sweet jottings from Dorothy’s journal, recording the horticultural highlights of their Eden.

Welcome to Wordsworth's garden

'The garden is overrun with weeds' - a familiar cry!

Planting by moonlight - the gardener's lantern

Dove Cottage and museum is a wonderful atmospheric insight to the poet’s domestic life. My advice is to visit in the low season if possible, although a former inn – the poet’s home is compact and queues to take the hugely popular tour can be immense.

Not far from the cottage is the village school where Wordsworth and his sister taught.

The former village school is now a gingerbread shop

The fragrance of freshly baked ginger bread wafts through the village and it’s no surprise to find a lengthy queue at the door for the freshly baked delicacy which is quite unlike the sponge cake texture of more usual gingerbread.

I spied this slate on the wall of a shop selling slate house names and numbers to order – it reminds me of a child in school learning their alphabet with chalk on a slate board.

A-Z slate

The village church is dedicated to St Oswald, 7th century King of Northumbria. Here lie the graves of the Wordsworth family.

William Wordsworth's grave, St Oswald's churchyard

This curious drinking fountain and water trough for animals is another memorial to the poet.

Lakeland water for man and beast

The inscription

From Wordsworth's poem 'Personal Talk'

Beyond the village centre there are walks to the fells. Heading towards Easdale and Goody Bridge, I like this gate especially.

An invitation to the splashy beck

Riverside paths lead to enchanting picnic spots by noisy falls of icy cold water

Idyllic picnic spots on the beckside

And stepping stones too, always a favourite!

Hop across to the freedom of the fells

Lakeland walls in grey slate and moss are beautiful.

Built to last

The names of country houses built by  wealthy industrialists escaping the city where they made their hard cash are charming and romantic. I imagine the households of early second homeowners piling into carriages on the early metal roads built in the 1770s or into trains running to the Lake District from the 1840s and heading for the hills and grand or quaint retreats like Thimble Hall.

Poetic names abound!

Glenthorne, now a Quaker guesthouse, was converted to a residence after serving as the carriage house and stable to nearby Allen Bank, another of Wordsworth’s Grasmere residences. The bard moved away because the chimneys smoked and he fell out with the landlord.

The former holiday home of a Yorkshire carpet manufacturer

At the water’s edge there are tearooms and rowing boats.

A dreamy afternoon afloat awaits

When I was there a squadron of cackling geese splashed down with aplomb.


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