• CastleRigg Stone Circle

    Castlerigg

    Location: Keswick

    Castlerigg Stone Circle is one of the most visually impressive prehistoric monuments in England and is one of our oldest stone circles. Every year thousands of visitors come to see the stone circle asking why and when it was built.

    The circle comprises 38 free standing stones some of which are up to 3 metres high dating back to the Neolithic period around 4000 to 5000 years ago. Inside the circle are three stone axes which are made from volcanic stone quarried in the fells during the same period. The main purpose of the site is unknown but there are a couple of suggestions. It could have been used as a trading post, a meeting place for social gatherings, a site for religious ceremonies and rituals or an astronomical observatory with the stones being aligned to the sun, moon and stars.

    In 1913 the site was acquired by the National Trust through efforts by Canon Rawnsley and is maintained by English Heritage.

    Standing on the top of a low hill above Keswick it is well worth a visit with beautiful views across to Skiddaw, Blencathra and Lonscale Fell.

  • Saving the red squirrels of the Lake District

    While visiting Grasmere you may have spotted a number of red squirrels running in and around the village.

    Once a popular sight and the only native species in England, red squirrels have suffered a major decline. Since the introduction of the grey squirrel, red squirrels have dropped from around three and half million to an estimated one hundred and twenty thousand.

    Helping to protect the red squirrels are the Grasmere Red Squirrel Group, who work with Allan Bank to make Allan Bank their ideal home. Supplementing the red squirrel’s diet, Allan Bank puts out monkey nuts and sunflower seeds every morning into their special feeders. They help to monitor the population and keep an eye out for any sick or injured squirrels.

    As well as the Grasmere Red Squirrel Group, there are a number of groups in and surrounding Cumbria all with the same purpose to ‘protect the red squirrel’.

    To find your nearest group visit:

    http://www.northernredsquirrels.org.uk/nrs-groups/cumbria-groups/

    To find out more or to see how you can show your support visit:

    https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/appeal/support-red-squirrels-in-the-lake-district

     

  • Otters in the Lake District

    Otters are considered to be England’s top predator, masterful at catching a variety of prey including fish and small birds. These semi – aquatic mammals are usually spotted playing in the rivers with their thick fur protecting them from the cold waters. Their webbed feet, dense fur (to keep them warm) and ability to close their eyes and nose underwater makes them well suited to life In the water. Otters have their cubs in underground burrows known as a ‘holt’. Excellent and lithe swimmers, cubs are introduced and adjusted to the water by 10 weeks of age. The length of an otter is 90cm with a tail of 45cm and has an average life span of up to 10 years.

    Otter

    During the last century otters faced extinction, but their numbers have steadily increased due to the clear up of waterways, certain pesticides being banned, and conservation projects being set up.

    Otters can often be seen playing in the rivers that feed the lakes such as Derwentwater near Keswick. There have also been other sightings including the River Kent by Kendal and around Lake Windermere.

  • Bowness-on-Windermere

    9.2 miles away

    Walking distance: 3hr 5 mins

    Buses: Grasmere Centre to Bowness Pier – 599 or 555 every 20 minutes

    Bowness–on–Windermere lies on the shore of Lake Windermere, halfway between Waterhead at the north end and Lakeside at the south end. The town was developed after the opening of the railway line from Oxenholme and Kendal to Windermere in 1847 as Bowness was the nearest accessible point on the lake. Now the town is a popular tourist attraction with sailing and watersports available to enjoy. For those wanting to relax, the pier has some stunning scenery of the lake and Cumbrian fells.

    Within in the town, Victorian influence can be seen with large residences overlooking the lake. In the late 19th century wealthy businessmen from Lancashire built large houses overlooking the lake which have now been converted into hotels. The Belsfield Hotel that overlooks Bowness Bay was once home to Henry Schneider, Chairman of the Barrow Steelworks. St Martin’s Church is the parish Church of Bowness and is also worth a visit. The area behind the church is the oldest part of Bowness with a delightful web of narrow streets known as Lowside. The streets give visitors and residents an idea of what the village was like before the railway.

  • Rydal

    Walking distance: 2.2 miles - 47 minutes

    Rydal is a small village that lies along the main road between Ambleside and Grasmere. Rydal was originally part of Grasmere until it gained parish status in 1826. The name Rydal comes from the Old Norse meaning ‘valley where rye was grown’.

    Rydal Water lies between Nab Scar and Loughrigg Fell and is one of the smallest lakes in the Lake District at 3/4 of a mile long. However, it remains very popular because of its connections to poet William Wordsworth. Wordsworth and his family lived in Rydal Hall till his death in 1850. The rash field next to the churchyard is known as 'Dora's Field', named after Wordsworth's daughter, Dora. Daffodils have been planted in the field in memory of Dora, who died in 1847.

  • Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling

    Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling is a traditional sport that takes place during summer shows across the National Park. It was initially bought over by the Vikings and the earliest recorded match was in 1785 in Windermere near to Rawlinson’s Nab.

    Wrestlers taking part wear the traditional costume of white long johns, embroided velvet trunks and a white vest. The wrestlers ‘tekk hod’ – take hold and grasp each other with their chin on the other’s shoulder. The first person to touch the ground with any part of their body, apart from the soles of their feet is the loser. The contest is judged on the best of three falls, where breaking hold is the equivalent of a fall.

  • Red Deer

    Although associated with the Highlands of Scotland, there is a healthy population of Red Deer within The Lake District.

    The Red Deer is the largest deer in the UK and is often found on moorland, mountains and grassland near to woodland. They are identified by their dark - russet brown fur with a paler buff rump patch and a pale tail. Male Red Deer have large branching antlers which increase in size as they get older. A male red deer is called a ‘stag’ and females are called a ‘hind’. During the breeding season males bellow to proclaim their territory and will fight over the females, sometimes injuring themselves with their sharp antlers.

    Red Deer can be spotted at Grizedale forest near Windermere and Foulshaw Moss in the South East of the Lake District.

  • St Oswald's Church

    St Oswald’s Church is the parish church of Grasmere. The church is named after St Oswald, a 7th century Christian King of Northumberland. The parish church of Grasmere, Rydal and Langdale have their own sperate gate to the church yard. St Oswald's Church is the resting place of William Wordsworth and his family. Near the organ is a glass case containing Wordsworth’s prayer book and the tombstones of Wordsworth and his family can be found in the church graveyard. St Oswald's offers worship, music, poetry and celebrations today, as well as superb views of the fells that can be seen through the clear east window.

    To find out more about St Oswald’s Church visit https://www.achurchnearyou.com/church/12407/

  • Allan Bank - National Trust Property

    Allan Bank is a large Georgian house overlooking the village of Grasmere, once home to the late poet William Wordsworth. The house is perched on a rocky hillside above the village with the view of a craggy fell behind.

    In 1808, Wordsworth and his wife Mary moved into Allan bank with their three children. Also living with them was Mary’s sister and their literacy acquaintances, Thomas De Quincy and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. They lived in the house for two years but moved out shortly after as the chimneys smoked excessively and arguments with the landlord took place. The house was brought in 1915 by Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, a founder of the National Trust. He brought the house after he retired and spent his retirement in the picturesque village of Grasmere. The house was left to the National Trust in 1920 after his passing.

    In March 2011, a huge fire broke out at Allan Bank, one of the largest fires Grasmere has ever seen. After the fire, the National Trust decided that the house should be restored and open to the public. The house has undergone an extensive restoration project with the building being left as a blank canvas for visitors to decide it’s future.

    Jeremy Barlow, the National Trust’s General Manager for the Central and East Lakes, explained how visitors can influence the appearance of the house;

    “This won’t be like other historic houses – you won’t find Wordsworth’s spectacles laid on a desk in his study. In each of the rooms we’ve given our visitors hints about the fascinating history of this lovely home and the chance to be creative in the way so many of it’s former occupants were.

    Each of the rooms of the house has been given a theme. The framed artists of the Heaton Copper family, who have a gallery in Grasmere village, have helped create the art room where visitors will be inspired by sketches of Allan Bank and the Lake District. In the room where Wordsworth once slept, we’ll be encouraging visitors to help us design the planting of the gardens, while song lyrics and famous quotes will inspire the writing on the wall – literally – in the literature room. Interior designers can get arty and even help influence the future paint colours of the interior, and there will be some intriguing ways of bringing the outdoors indoors in yet another of the interactive rooms”.

    The house is open most days during the summer and only a short period during winter. To avoid disappointment please check the opening times through the link provided.

    To find out more about Allan Bank and to plan your visit, visit:

    https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/allan-bank-and-grasmere

  • Sarah Nelson's Gingerbread Shop

    Aside from it’s connections to poet William Wordsworth, Grasmere is also famous for it’s gingerbread. The famous ‘Grasmere Gingerbread’ is made using a ‘special recipe’ created by Sarah Nelson. Victorian cook, Sarah Nelson, invented 'Grasmere Gingerbread' in 1854 in the village from which it gets its name. A unique, spicy – sweet cross between a biscuit and cake, it’s reputation quickly spread and is now enjoyed by food lovers all over the world. Visitors of Grasmere are greeted by the wonderful aroma of freshly baked gingerbread coming from The Gingerbread Shop. Aside from selling the famous ‘Grasmere Gingerbread’, the shop also sells it’s own award winning rum butter, toffee, fudges, chocolates, conserves, Kendal Mint Cake and more.

    Who was Sarah Nelson and how did she come to make the famous Grasmere Gingerbread?

    Sarah Nelson was born in 1815 in the small village of Bowness of Windermere. One of two children, Sarah had a younger sister called Ann. Both Ann and Sarah had limited education available to them where learning the art of domesticity was the best gift their mother could give them. During the 19th Century, skivvying for wealthy families was one of the few realistic carers for working class women.

    Working in local big houses Sarah learnt as much as she could, observing the working ways of higher placed and more skilled staff. She eventually worked her way up to the position of cook in a Kendal household. During her time as a cook, Nelson became a creative cook adding to her skills, where she then moved to a household in Penrith. It was there she met her soon to be husband, Wilfred Nelson. They went on to have three children, a son and two daughters. Sadly, their son fell ill to cholera and later died, both Sarah and Wilfred were devastated. Fearing their daughters may get ill too, they moved to the picturesque village of Grasmere.

    Despite being a long distance from major towns and cities, Sarah and Wilfred pulled through. Wilfred worked as a grave digger in St Oswald’s Churchyard and for a local builder whilst Sarah took on washing, cooking and baking for larger houses in the District. Working for Dale Lodge, the seasonal home of Lady Maria Farquhar, Sarah stocked her pantry with cakes and biscuits. As well as preparing savoury dishes for the mistress of the house, Sarah stocked her pantry with homemade cakes and biscuits.

    The exact time of which Sarah Nelson made her famous gingerbread is unknown but is believed to have been made during the winter of 1854. Neither a biscuit nor a cake but somewhere in-between, no-one had ever tasted anything similar before. Still working at Dale Lodge, Sarah began selling slices of ‘Grasmere Gingerbread’ wrapped in parchment to villagers and tourists outside her home.

    As the 19th Century wore on, Sarah was known as ‘Baker and Confectioner of Church Cottage’. Sarah placed her handwritten secret recipe in a local bank vault to keep it safe. The recipe is still kept secret today and is the same recipe Nelson used to make her famous gingerbread. Sarah passed away in 1904, aged 88, but her legacy lives on which sees her famous gingerbread being made to the present day.