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Grasmere & Rydal

Grasmere, cradled in a vale in the heart of the Lake District, is crowned with magnificent fells and mountains all around. From Dunmail Raise in the north, the vale of Grasmere opens up with the rugged peak of Helm Crag (otherwise known as ‘the Lion and the Lamb’) sheltering the town to the south. The combination of scattered hamlets and farmsteads, verdant woodlands, and lush meadows fringing the lakes of Grasmere and Rydal Water and Loughrigg Tarn conjures up a quintessential image of romantic Lakeland.

The natural beauty of the area has provided inspiration for painters, poets, writers and craftsmen for years. The vale of Grasmere and Rydal, described by Wordsworth as ‘the loveliest spot that man hath ever found’, became his adopted home. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and Sir Walter Scott also stayed here, whilst the writer Thomas de Quincey moved into Dove Cottage on Wordsworth’s departure. From the 18th century onwards, many artists journeyed here in search of ‘the picturesque and the sublime’, including William Green, John Constable and Turner. In more recent times, the Heaton Cooper family succeeded in capturing the changing moods of the Lake District in watercolours.

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Things to do

Adventure & Outdoor Activities

And so the adventure begins. Add some thrills to your holiday by fully experiencing everything Cumbria has to offer. Walk, run, climb, swim, get muddy, have fun!

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What's on

 June 2020>
There are a variety of events taking place in and around the Grasmere area.

From the famous Grasmere Sports Day to venue showcases, check out what is on during your visit and browse the events of most interest to you.

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Food & Drink

Anyone who visits Grasmere and nearby Rydal, just has to experience a post-walk cream tea. Tearooms, some of which are hidden away in beautiful surroundings, will guarantee you a warm welcome, with a variety of teas and coffees on offer and scones and homemade cakes to die for. Well worth plotting into your walking plans!
For a small place, Grasmere does well with its fine dining experiences, whilst still maintaining an unstuffy and relaxing atmosphere. It even boasts a Michellin Star restaurant, where fine dining is taken up to another level. Fine dining is available in many restaurants here, offering exquisite explosions of flavours, where the food is absolutely faultless.

Grasmere also has some amazing quirky cafes with twinkling lights and scatter cushions creating a lovely ambiance in which to enjoy a very high standard of food. As with many of these charming little cafes-come-restaurants, they’re very popular, so it’s wise to book ahead if you’re going in the evening. The Signature  Restaurant at Wordsworth HotelAfter a long day on the Grasmere fells, stepping into a welcoming pub is like a little piece of heaven. They’re all dog-friendly with reliable WiFi and offer a superb choice of local ales and award-winning food. There’s everything from a 16C coaching inn, full of old world charm and roaring log fires and panoramic views - to characterful walkers’ bars, offering tasty classic pub food. For the beer buffs among you, there’s a wide selection of ales approved by CAMRA. But before you leave Grasmere there’s one more must-try foods – the delicious sweet treat, Grasmere Gingerbread.

For more information on what Cumbria has to offer see Food and Drink

Surrounding Areas


The nearby hamlet of Rydal is associated with two influential families: the Le Flemings and the Wordsworths. Rydal Hall was the home of the Le Fleming family who moved here from Coniston Hall and Rydal Mount was Wordsworth’s home for the last 37 years of his life.


Thirlmere is a pretty, clear lake with a wooded shoreline and is best enjoyed from the west shore which winds its way through the trees.

Thirlmere was once two smaller lakes called Leatheswater and Brackmere. The two lakes were joined by a footbridge until damning in 1879 created a rise in the water levels and Thirlmere was formed as the two lakes overflowed. It now serves as a water supply for Manchester.

Culture and Heritage

Rydal mount
Rydal Cave
Wordsworth Museum
Grasmere’s early history was devoted to farming, wool manufacture and some mineral and rock extraction. In the mid 16th century, there were around 15 fulling mills in Grasmere. Fulling was the process of pounding newly woven cloths in soapy water with heavy hammers (or stocks) to shrink the fibres and create a denser fabric. Stock Lane in Grasmere derives its name from this process. Most of the local woods were managed for coppice wood to supply charcoal for iron ore smelting and bark for tanneries. In the early 18th century, as prosperity increased, there was an expansion in new building and many small quarries were opened up to provide stone – White Moss quarry (on the A591) being one of these (now a car park).

Several packhorse trails once radiated out from the village; the ponies carrying cloths, fleeces, and other goods to markets in Keswick, Penrith and Kendal (via Ambleside). The old packhorse trail between Ambleside and Grasmere used to be the main route between the two towns before the new turnpike road (now the A591) was opened in 1770.

Painters, writers and poets started exploring the Lake District in the mid 18th century in search of the picturesque and romantic notions of beauty. William Wordsworth (1770–1850) came to live here in 1799 and spent much time walking in the area, composing lines of poetry based on what he experienced. His most inspirational years were spent at Dove Cottage (1799–1808). He and his family then moved to the more spacious Allan Bank (1808–1811), followed by a short stint at the Rectory (1811–1814) and lastly to Rydal Mount (1814–1850). Fellow poets and writers, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and Sir Walter Scott, were frequent guests of the Wordsworths.

Once the new turnpike roads were completed in the late 18th century and the railway had arrived in Windermere in 1847, Victorian tourists came in their droves to experience the landscapes that had inspired the Lake Poets.

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