William Wordsworth once wrote:
FAREWELL, thou little Nook of mountain-ground,
Thou rocky corner in the lowest stair
Of that magnificent temple which doth bound
One side of our whole vale with grandeur rare;
Sweet garden-orchard, eminently fair,
The loveliest spot that man hath ever found,
Farewell!–we leave thee to Heaven’s peaceful care,
Thee, and the Cottage which thou dost surround.
Surely he was speaking about his home in Grasmere, Cumbria.
A beautiful village, Grasmere, surrounded by green (isn’t everything in this neck of the woods?), cottages and shops abutt the street, and the quintessential Lake District treat, gingerbread, made right in the village centre. Home of lakeland poet Wordsworth and his visiting breakfast companion Sir Water Scott. All this awesomeness comes with a price: a bit of a parking problem.
This little town’s beauty is its downfall. It’s petite, so easy to walk around, however there are no pavements to do so (sidewalks for the US-siders), so you have to share the road with cars, bikes, tour buses and people. And 80% of the time in a popular holiday location, tourists do not look where they are going because they are so in awe with their surroundings. So mix traffic, tourists and tarmac together and it’s a recipe for frayed nerves and potential disaster. Not to mention the lack of stop signs of which this country is rife. Can’t we just get a wee bit or order going here?
Ugh. I need a latte just thinking about it.
And that’s how we paid for our parking, popping into the Grasmere Garden Centre for a warming beverage and a pile of change for the meters. We just needed enough for a walk around town and a poke around St Oswald’s Church, where Wordsworth and his family are buried.
I’ll be honest, I found the exterior of the Grade 1 listed Oswalds to be a bit of a let down, but the interior is beam-alicious.
So what if the greying, dirty pebble dash on the outside isn’t appealing? The interior is light and bright and perfect for a bit of praying. If you’re into that sort of thing.
I am much more into cemeteries and graveyards, as you can see from my visit to Highgate Cemetery in London. St Oswald’s graveyard is more petite and not charging entry fees, so outside we went to the Wordsworth family plot.
In front of the headstones of all the other Williams and their wives lies this large paving stone etched with a proper goodbye to William and his wife Dorothy.
We were incredibly anxious to get to our pub, looking to unpack and relax on our room’s private patio, so a quick walk around town to buy some gingerbread to bring home for the family and a quick stop for another latte (decaf, don’t worry about me and my caffeine intake), this time because I had to visit the loo because of the other latte. Too much info? Yes. But then I would have never found this little gem:
Well, what else are you going to do in the toilet but read? A good spot of marketing for this tiny little cafe with rooms above. I’d definitely look into spending a night here as a base for a long walk around the fells and crags of Grasmere.
But no more dilly dallying… off to Strawberry Bank!
A quick reminder of how it is we stumbled upon this small country pub… we’d done a lot of research on places to stay in the Lake District National Park before we’d left, and really loved to look, and the name, of the Drunken Duck Inn. However it was our bad luck that we’d not be able to stay in the same room for two consecutive nights, not to mention the massive price hike for night two, well our disappointment led to Yelp, which led to the Masons Arms on Strawberry Bank.
It wasn’t too far from Grasmere to the pub, a windy 30-40 minutes down the side of Lake Windermere, through the villages of Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere led us to the steep and winding Feel Foot Brow:
The view from the road of the very southern tip of Lake Windermere did not disappoint:
And neither did the view from our pub:
Not to get too American on you, but OMG. Silence. Peace. And perfect isolation.
I might never leave!