The Professional Traveller • Jul 27, 2020
Grasmere Lake District – What To See and Do
I have been lucky enough to visit Grasmere several times with groups over 2019 and I have to say it’s one of my favourite stops along our tour. That may because I am a country girl at heart and I prefer villages.
Whatever the reason spending a couple of days in the country is always a treat.
Grasmere Lake District, The Village
- A lovely little village with plenty of history and some nice shops and cafes too.
- Ideal for nature lovers and particularly those interested in William Wordsworth.
When staying with groups we have been lucky enough to stay at the Swan at Grasmere. See below for my review of the hotel. This means that the village centre is roughly a 10 minute walk away from the hotel. Here is a quick rundown of what is where in the village of Grasmere. I am going to do things in order as if you were walking down from Swan Lane, so the upper part of the village.
Grasmere Lake District – Walking into the Village from the Swan Hotel
There is a path that leads beside a field down to the village of Grasmere from the Swan Hotel.
To find the path take a left immediately out of the front door of the hotel, walk down, across a small river and then cross the road at the crossing point (where there is bollard in the middle of the road). If you continue in the same direction, now on the opposite side of the road you will come to a gate and a path with a stone wall on the right hand side and a field on the left. Walk down this path.
I have seen a number of Herdwick sheep and lambs in this field and it is good to see a bit more of a close up view of them. They are easy to recognise as the lambs are black and they get greyer and lighter as they get older.
If you continue down the path you bear right at the end and walk through a drive area. This is the access for the holiday cottages on your right but there is a public right of way to walk through here.
If you have time take a little diversion to your left to the riverbank. There you will find a penfold where livestock used to be kept while drinking at the river. There is a bench with a lovely view and it is nice spot to get close to the river as well.
Exit the parking area and turn left over a lovely stone bridge and at night this a great spot to see bats hunting. They hunt across the river and under the lights of the adjacent hotel.
Just after the hotel you have to cross the road as the pavement runs out. Continue walking down past the playing fields on the left and the fields on the right.
I have been lucky enough to see deer in the fields on the right hand side so keep your eyes peeled.
One of the first buildings you will see on your left is the Village Hall. It always seems to have something on, whether a theatrical production or an antiques fair so it is great to see the hall being used so much.
Then comes the Pharmacy and next The Co-operative store.
The Co-operative is quite small but it has a cute little community board inside which had joke of the week when I was there which I loved. It has a cashpoint (ATM) inside and is a smaller sized convenience store with food and drink, sandwiches, alcohol etc. They don’t sell newspapers.
Packed full of puzzles
Barneys Newsbox is one of my favourite shops anywhere, let alone Grasmere. If you love jigsaw puzzles you should have a look as it’s got the largest collection I have ever seen. They have puzzles in all shapes and sizes and lots of places such as every state in the USA for example. They also do a nice range of cards and of course newspapers.
Great curated choices plus great selection of books about the area
I love bookshops and particularly independent bookshops. I can’t go past this one without going in and I usually find something a little different here as well. As a non-fiction girl there is a great selection with some interesting curated titles in the window to tempt me in. There is also a great selection of local books. It is a small shop but very well worth a browse.
Take a left at the bookshoop to find another tempting shop!
Tempting treats right in the window!
I find it very tough to walk past Lucia’s without buying anything as they have such lovely tempting treats. They also do a soya milk coffees which are great for non dairy drinkers like me. I have not had time to visit the cafe yet but I love being able to pick something up at the Bakehouse and enjoy it in my hotel room while catching up on paperwork.
If you have ever wondered what a Herdwick sheep tastes like they often have Hoggett pasties available so you can try them!
If you continue walking in the same direction, with the village green on your left, you will come to one of my favourite cafes in Grasmere.
Great vegan choices and a lovely terrace ideal for people watching
I have enjoyed something to eat at Green’s a couple of times. As a plant based eater there is a great selection available including vegan ice cream which was really lovely. I like sitting outside on the small terrace watching the world go by. It has a nice view over the green so it is a great vantage point.
If you turn left out of Greens and continue walking in the same direction you will come to the famous Gingerbread shop which is in the corner of the courtyard.
Beloved by William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy and made to a secret recipe
I am sorry to say I have rarely made it into this tiny little shop because normally when I stop to point it out I am on a walk with a group of visitors. The smell coming from this little building is amazing and I am desperate to try their Gingerbread ice cream. The gingerbread is made to a secret recipe and it was the Gingerbread that William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy craved when they were aware.
I have had great feedback from guests about this gingerbread and you can also buy it and have it shipped around the world so it has been sent to lots of family and friends as an unusual treat only available in Grasmere.
Great to stand under a tree that William Wordsworth planted
This lovely little church is where William Wordsworth and his family members, including his sister Dorothy are buried. It is one of the most visited graves, infact the most visited literary grave in Britain. I especially like the fact that the graveyard is surrounded by yew trees which were planted by William Wordsworth, a great connection back to this influential poet.
Quirky, fun and unlike any other National Trust property I’ve ever visited
I have to admit I love Allanbank because it is so unlike any other National Trust property I have ever visited. Generally I associate the National Trust with properties which are lovely and packed with interesting arts and pieces that you view sedately from behind a rope with well to do guides who gently explain things if you ask them.
Allanbank is the complete opposite of that. It is a bare house, having been severely damaged by a fire. There is no posh furniture, expensive paintings or red ropes to stand behind. It is an interactive experience.
The National Trust did a survey to find out what members wanted to do with the property and the overwhelming feedback was to leave it as it was after the fire and keep the ‘this house is your house’ feel that the place had. That’s exactly what they have done.
You can sit by the fire and enjoy reading a book you have taken from the bookshelf. You can sit by the big window and enjoy watching the Red Squirrels heading for the feeders (Allanbank is one of the very few places you can see this lovely creatures in England).
I loved heading to the craft room, grabbing some paint and painting a picture alongside a whole heap of kids and some other adults too. There was lots of laughing and admiring of everyone’s efforts. It wasn’t an organised event, you just head in, pick up whatever art material you want and make something.
In the stable outside there was quite an interesting film about the place.
It was fab to be able to make myself a cup of tea and sit in the kitchen area with other visitors. It really did feel like it was our house.
For visitors expecting a more traditional National Trust experience it may well feel disconcerting but if you want to have an experience rather than a passive viewing Allanbank is definitely worth a visit.
Adult entry is £8.70.
You can find Allanbank by leaving the main square in Grasmere where the village green is. Walk down from the bookshop on the same side of the road as the art gallery and cafe. At the junction there is a little road coming from the right, walk along there to find Allanbank. When the area opens up you will see two large houses, Allanbank is set back up on a little hill on the left hand side. It is no more than 10 minutes walk from the centre of the village.
I spent a very happy couple of hours there and could have spent longer if I hadn’t have needed to get back for lunch.
A historic coaching inn at the end of Swan Lane, a favourite of Wordsworth & Coleridge
(Please note that since this stay this hotel has been taken over by new owners)
I stayed at the Swan at Grasmere for 4 nights for a training course. It was a bit of a struggle as I hadn’t slept or eaten properly for a week or so beforehand so I arrived tired and feeling pretty rough. However, checking into my room I immediately felt a bit better and spent the evening relaxing and sleeping before my course.I stayed in Room 17 which is a corner room.
The Swan Hotel, Grasmere – What I Liked
- The Superking bed was really comfy, the perfect combination of nice mattress, lovely sheets and squishy pillows
- The curtains kept out the light so the room was nice and dark which always helps with sleeping
- The view over the garden was lovely as it had the fells in the background and I could also see them out of the front windows
- There was a nice little round table with a couple of armchairs which were ideal for doing a bit of work or chatting on the phone
- The desk was handy for doing some work
- I liked the little dressing area with a built in wardrobe and chest of drawers
- It was nice to have a bath and a separate shower in the bathroom
- I liked the motion detector for the bathroom light
The Swan Hotel, Grasmere – What I Liked Less
- The only niggle for me was not having a socket next to the bed but that was minor and not really a niggle – can’t think of anything else!
On a particularly sunny morning I headed down to the village and got some great photos of the newborn lambs, a robin, thrush and the fells. It was lovely to be able to do this and be back in time for my conference.
I really like the feel of the Swan – it’s friendly and welcoming with nice seating areas including a couple of little lounges. There were real fires going which is always a treat and gas fires in other parts of the building.
Want to Stay at The Swan, Grasmere?
The Swan is a lovely historic coaching inn on the outskirts of Grasmere.
Want To Stay in Grasmere?
Want to quickly find the lowest prices on the internet for hotels in Grasmere – just hit the box below to see.
Ambelside, Lake District
While staying in Grasmere a colleague and I headed out to nearby Ambelside for something to eat.
We literally stumbled across Jintana Thai and seeing that there were a few vegetarian options for me went inside.
The restaurant is full of Thai features including elephants and a Tuk Tuk at the back of restaurant. The welcome was warm and we were left with the difficult job of choosing something from the menu.
I chose a Tofu curry and we shared a rice dish which as you can see above was beautifully presented, and tasted delicious too. I also enjoyed a non alcoholic cocktail which was lovely as well.
For two of us, just having a main dish, shared rice and a drink each, the meal was £40 so it’s not a cheap eat but my goodness the quality and taste was great so I would definitely go back again when I am next in the area.
Zefferellis cinema is just across the street so you could combine the two for a nice evening out. It is an independent cinema, which I love visiting so ideal for something a bit different.
Lake District FAQs
Lake District Weather
The Lake District gets more rain than many other parts of the UK. I have been there when it has been sunny and warm and also when the rain has been also monsoon like. As always with weather the key thing is to be prepared so always take an extra layer and waterproofs with you if you can.
I once got caught in Grasmere without the right clothing and had a terrible job trying to find what I wanted without spending an absolute fortune. As such my shoes got so wet I had to dry them with a hairdryer at the end of each day!
Accuweather has a good forecast – the Lake District weather is here.
Lake District National Park
The Lake District National Park was the first National Park in the UK. The story of how it was founded is really fascinating with battles between the working class, wealthy landowners and political campaigns. There was also much reference to Yellowstone National Park during the debate and amazingly there was 80 years between the formation of the two parks with Yellowstone being formed in 1872 and the Lake District National Park in 1951.
You can find out about the park on the official website here.
Lake District National Park Map
You can find links to maps of the park here, alongwith information about parking and toilets.
Lake District Hotels
The fact that the Lake District is a National Park means there are restrictions on developments and building. This means that there is often much more demand for hotels than there is supply. Prices can be quite expensive in the peak summer season.
Kendal is a pretty market town just outside the Lake District so it might be worth checking out hotels here for some cheaper options.
Check out a selection of Kendal hotels below for a quick price check.
Self Catering or Holiday Let in the Lake District?
Check out what’s available below
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