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Paris is the most atmospheric of cities. The sights, the people, the restaurants and cafes are evocative of memorable travel and times past. This is a small selection of my photography taken over several visits and rendered in black and white. Please enjoy these and my books on Paris and France are available on Amazon.
Grasmere is a small popular village in the English Lake District. You can indeed have a day in Grasmere itself but if you are able then it repays putting the village at the heart of a walk in the area. Our day begins just off the A591 from Ambleside at White Moss National Trust Car Park. Behind the car park a track rises quite steeply to join a well defined path that heads in the direction of Rydal. After this brief climb the route rarely taxes your uphill stamina, especially as much of the walk later is taken at lake level
The path we have joined is part of the old Corpse Road, a type of road that is a feature of the Lake District. Back in the day when transport was not motorised, the deceased loved ones had to be transported to a consecrated church for burial. The church of St Oswalds in Grasmere was such a church. This particular Corpse Road was used to take the coffin to that church. I assure you that you will not encounter a single coffin on your walk today. Halfway or so along the route to Rydal you come across an old stone seat – long and flat. Yes, it is just the right size for a well earned rest in bygone times. It does afford a beautiful view across to Rydal Water, a romantic pause on the way to a last resting place. As a modern tourist we are not put off by past history to just rest for a while in this wonderful part of the Lake District.
Continuing our walk on this delightful track it is not long before we come to the tiny village of Rydal. This area of the Lakes is synonymous with the poet William Wordsworth. He will feature regularly on our Day in Grasmere. Rydal Mount and Gardens, a favourite home of the poet and one that can be enjoyed by the visitor today. We continue down to the A591 and cross it, bypassing the tempting Glen Rothay Hotel Bar, and join the path to Rydal Water. This is joined by crossing a small wooden bridge over the River Rothay, the path opening up through a glade of trees to give a view over Rydal Water to the incline leading over to Grasmere Lake. The path hugs Rydal Water keeping the heights of Loughrigg Fell on your left. The path above this one contains a large cave, Rydal Cave – well worth a detour if you have the energy.
By the side of the water some fisherman are enjoying the peace and quiet and we go past slowly and gently to keep the fish in a relaxed state. Rydal Water narrows and ends, the path rises to a small summit.
This brings the lake of Grasmere in all its glory in front of you. Below is a the river making its way to the lake and a few walkers are coming over from that direction. The path takes a gentle path down to the lake and one of the English Lakes finest viewpoints at the ‘beach’ at the head of Grasmere Lake. This is a stunning location across the lake to the island and to Grasmere Village. At the far end the fells part to leave a gap. If you are lucky, you may be delighted to have your peace briefly disturbed by lightning fast RAF jets practicing hugging the terrain through that gap.
Generally only peace reigns, the swans and geese on the lake occasionally coming to waters edge in search of some spare lunch. The path hugs the left side of the lake and we stay on the lower part, at water level before we are forced back to the main path. Despite being at ground level this path give some of the finest views in the Lakes. The fell rises gently to the left and sheep graze, giving a bucolic pastoral scene. The lake to the right is calm and flat with spectacular views to Grey Crag, close to Alcock Tarn. On such a calm day the reflections of the fells are a mirror image on the water, disturbed only by a solitary rower who has headed out from the boathouse at the village end of the lake. The path is forced back up to the road, curious Herdwick sheep watch your slow progress up the short incline.
The village is not far along the road. You can stop for a coffee or an ice cream at the café by the boathouse if energy levels are flagging. It is worth stopping anyway around this area and just taking a few moments to absorb the magnificent scenery around you. As they say, always look back as well on a walk.
Grasmere is a popular village so do not expect to have it to yourself. Young Japanese are great devotees of William Wordsworth. You will meet many of them. Is it the daffodils? One of those curiosities of culture. They love Peter Rabbit as well. They are no doubt vital to the Lake District economy.
Most visitors tend to congregate around the area of the car and coach park, patronising the shops and cafes along that road to the church. That would be a mistake as the main part of the village lies behind this area. The church of St Oswalds it has to be said has a quite beautiful, reflective setting. The River Rothay runs by the side of the churchyard and gives a gentle backdrop to a stroll through the church ground to the inevitable visit to the Wordsworth family graves. It is a generous plot and well maintained. Wordsworth was genuinely a part of the Lake District community, and his poetry reflects his love of this gorgeous area of Britain. Yes, there is also a daffodil garden but in this context it comes across much more than a cliché – the local are proud of their association with such a famous ‘son’.
The gate at the end of the graveyard leads to the village proper. You surely will not be able to pass the first building you encounter. This is Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere gingerbread shop. The aroma will draw you in. Started in 1854 this shop is famous the world over and no self-respecting TV personality on their ubiquitous tour of ‘Their England’ can avoid bringing the film crew here. The gingerbread here is not your average concrete consistency variety that build the houses but a cross between a cake and a biscuit with a touch of secret spice. It is quite unique and utterly irresistible.
The village itself has lots of small independent shops, cafes and restaurants. Overlooking a small grassy area at the centre of the village is the Heaton Cooper Art Studio, a family of respected artist going back to Victorian times. A café adjoins the gallery and well worth a visit. You may after your walk need a rest and quite often we would gravitate to Tweedies Bar with its large garden along Langdale Road from the gallery towards the lake. In the other direction there is more for art lovers and plenty of craft shops. Easedale Road intersects this area and leads, eventually, to Easedale Tarn. This is a wonderful walk with a rewards at the end of a beautiful tarn, so typical of the Lake District. It is quite a trek, and uphill at times, but well worth the effort. But that is for another day.
Retracing our steps through the church and back towards the A591 we turn right and immediately take the left fork that leads to Dove Cottage. This building is exceptionally well preserved in a way that makes you feel that Wordsworth has just popped out to check on the daffodils. We pass by and follow the road that hugs the A591 at a higher level, giving great views over the route we have just followed. And so, too quickly, our day ends back at White Moss car park. I commend this as one of England’s great days out. We have enjoyed this often and I know you will enjoy it.