In April 1885 nineteen-year-old Beatrix returned to the Lake District with her family for a short stay in Ambleside with a Mrs. Clark at Laurel Villa, now Lakes Lodge. She mentions in her journal that she drove up Langdale Valley and "Saw also the attempted revival of linen hand-weaving at St. Martin's College, Elterwater, under the superintendence of old Ruskin...." I mention this to show the contemporary connections of the people whose homes we visited while in the Lake District. She goes on to write...
"The mother of Mrs. Clark, of this lodging, had the farm at Rydal, and was very familiar with the Wordsworths, particularly the old lady [Wordsworth's sister]. Wordsworth is always referred to as the poet in these parts, and local tradition says Dorothy Wordsworth was the greater poet of the two. For some years before her death she was subject to fits of madness, which her brother could generally control. During these, though a pious and sensible lady, she used to swear like a dragoon. She had a craze for putting her clothes on the fire, and they at least got a fender up to the ceiling. She left a great many of Wordsworth's furniture and odds and ends, such as a large clothes horse, to Mrs. Clark's mother."
Besides being mentioned in Beatrix's journal, her connection to William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was through both their desire to preserve the Lake District. Wordsworth was instrumental in helping to stop the railroad from going any further than Windermere and Beatrix would later work to stop an aeroplane factory from being built at Bowness-on-Windermere where the plan was to use the lake to test hydroplanes. Grasmere, where Wordsworth would live the last 51 years of his life, would be our base for the next two nights from which to explore the landscape that Wordsworth wrote about.
Even with that to look forward to I awoke Monday morning at 5:30 with mixed feelings about moving on. I spent the early hours of last morning in Near Sawery basking in what I saw out my window. . . .
One last walk around the village. . . .
"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it
is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
-William Arthur Ward
I wrote the above quote in my journal then we waited for the 10:27 bus to Hawkshead where we would get the bus to Ambleside. While waiting for the bus to Grasmere Ken chatted with two fine British gentlemen about this and that. . . .
Heidi's has a small cafe downstairs in front, but we had a code to enter from the side through a foyer where we found our key and a fellow to carry up our luggage. . . .
Everywhere we turned there were cute signs and lots of ❤️s. . . .
Our room was upstairs along with the other 5 rooms. . . .
This floor contained the little sitting room and very large bathroom (with a walk in shower plus a 6-foot bathtub!). . . .
But as you see, there is a staircase in the corner of the room. . . .
Upstairs was the bedroom. . . .
And the reason I chose this room--a rooftop balcony. . . .
It overlooked the village and the surrounding mountains. . . .
The Plan was to visit two Wordsworth homes that afternoon. We'd walk the short distance to Dove Cottage (from 3⃝ to 2⃝), have lunch at their tea room, after which we'd walk down to Rydal Mount 1⃝, then return to Grasmere along the far shore of Rydal Water and Grasmere Lake. . . .
|credit: Walking With Wordsworth in the Lake District|
After we'd walked a block through the village we saw Grasmere Tea Gardens just across River Rothay. It looked like it would be a lovely spot for supper. . . .
This is when I noticed a signpost for a footpath that led through the St. Oswald's church yard where Wordsworth and several members of his family are buried. . . .
There was a lovely garden along the walkway. . . .
|Click to enlarge|
We just kept going.......and somewhere along the way missed the path back to the village where we would continue on to Dove Cottage. . . .
What should have been a 10-minute walk turned into a 40-minute detour. When we finally found our way to Dove Cottage it was 1:15 so we were eager to sit down in the tea room and have lunch--only it was closed for renovations. So we had to walk back into town which only took about five minutes now that we knew where we were. We chose the Tea Gardens overlooking the River Rothay and St. Oswald's Church. It turned out to be a good thing because they were not open for supper. . . .
Now, properly fed and watered, we headed back to Dove Cottage, where in 1799 William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, returned to the Lake District and made their home. . . .
There was a small garden in the court yard. . . .
Inside the rooms were small and dark. . . .
This room was papered with newspapers in order to insulate it better. . . .HERE.
During the nine years that they lived here, William married Mary Hutchinson who birthed their first three children here. Mary's sister came to live with them as well--there were three women, three children, and William in this tiny cottage. There were various visitors as well, such as the poets Coleridge and Thomas De Quincey. De Quincey would take up residence here after the Wordsworths moved to Allan Bank. It was here that William wrote some of his best poetry as he walked around Grasmere Lake and Rydal Water, through the woods, and over the fells. His sister Dorothy kept a journal during this time which you can probably find in your library. Wordsworth said of Dove Cottage and his garden that is was "the loveliest spot ever that man hath found," and wrote a poem about his new home at Grasmere. . . .
I took a walk up into the garden. . . .
Looking back at the cottage. . . .
Further up the path. . . .
At the top of the garden looking down on Dove Cottage and to the mountains across Grasmere Lake. . . .
After touring the Wordsworth Museum and gift shop we set off on the path to Rydal Mount, the final home of Wordsworth and his family. This spot along the path commanded a view back towards the mountain on the other side of the Lake. . . .
A house we passed along the way. . . .
A plaque commemorating a gift of land to the National Trust. . . .
I took the short walk out to the edge of the field. . . .
Since the book we were using gave instructions from the opposite direction I gave up trying to follow them so when a group of hikers came from the direction we were heading I felt we were still on the path to Rydal Mount. I even asked a hiker, just to make sure. . . .
But after a bit when we came to this very rugged, steep path I began to have my doubts. "This CAN'T be right," I told Ken. "That group of people were dressed more for a stroll than a hike!" which this clearly was becoming. . . .
Reluctantly (because I hate backtracking) we turned back, retraced our steps and found what might be a turn off we should have taken. There was no sign, but the path was headed in the right direction, so we took it. Soon we heard road noise and saw a parking lot just past this little waterfall. . . .
We still had no idea how far we were from Rydal Mount. It was late in the afternoon and I knew we wouldn't have much time to spend there, so we crossed the road to the bus stop and waited for the bus back to Grasmere. Lesson Learned: Do not improvise when hiking! We also realized later we could have downloaded a trail map and used my phone's GPS to see where we were.
We had time to look around the village a little before the shops closed. Back in our room we looked on-line for a place to eat and chose a place just behind Heidi's (Heidi's was not open for supper). As we walked past Heidi's you could see our little roof-top deck. . . .
Tweedies Bar was pleasant enough, but lacked the charm we'd been used to in Near and Far Sawrey. It was impression that Grasmere catered more to the British than to us anglophiles. . .
The view from our table. . . .
|Soup and Bread; Quinoa Salad--curried cauliflower with aubergine, courgette, coriander, cucumber, grapes and pomegranate; Cartmel Valley Specialty Sausage w/buttery mash, sugar snap peas, green beans, and red wine jus|
I was disappointed that we didn't get to see Rydal Mount or take the walk around the two bodies of water that Wordsworth frequented, but The Plan for the next day was to take the bus up to Dertwentwater where Beatrix Potter had gotten inspiration for several of her stories. I availed myself to soak in that 6-foot tub and said good-night to a quiet Grasmere. . . .
We'd walked 7.4 miles, 15,747 steps, and 34 flights of stairs.
With a good night's sleep and a new perspective in the morning, we changed The Plan the next morning.
Be sure to check out these videos and website:
Penelope Keith's Hidden Village Grasmere episode
Part 1: Wordsworth's Sense of Place (Poem "Home at Grasmere" discussed)
Part 2: Wordsworth's Sense of Place
The Complete Poetical Works of William Wordsworth
Up Next: Grasmere - Rydal Mount