Grasmere Stories and Tips

Grasmere: just the right side of tourist trap

Potted Out Cafe Photo, Grasmere, England

Grasmere is an exceptionally popular place to stay as it is close to many of the biggest Lake District lakes but is a little away from the tourist circus and associated traffic jams around Windermere and Bowness.

However while Grasmere village is smaller and much more peaceful than its bigger neighbours (particularly after the tourist busses go to bed around 5pm), it is still a place that has sold much of its heart and soul to the tourist devil.

Poet Wordsworth lived here up until 1850, and many of his poems depict the quiet and nature of the area. I would imagine that if he lived in Grasmere today, Wordsworth will have suffered from terrible writers block beyond writing eloquent pleas to his local newspaper complaining about the tourists parking in his parking space and gawping through his living room window.

To be truthful as someone that doesn’t live too many miles from the lakes, we really shouldn't visit the area in peak tourist season as we can get it almost to ourselves if we choose a good winter's day.

The main Grasmere attractions are with Wordsworth; you can visit his cottage (Dove Cottage) on the outskirts of town, and his gravestone in the local Church. You can also look around all the local shops, restaurants and guest houses to spot the ones that don't reference towards either Wordsworth or one of his poems. There are no shortage of places to dine in Grasmere, although be warned that most if not all cater for an upmarket clientele. You will struggle to find a basic pub meal here.

The village centre is also a good place to try and hunt down walking equipment as there are several stores offering good discounts on clothing, waterproofs and rucksacks. Of course if you actually live here, I don’t suppose you can find a place that sells everyday food and household goods, but if you are after speciality chutney then Grasmere is your place.

While many of the visitors to Grasmere certainly put on a good show, I am uncertain how many of them actually need their hiking gear and venture out into the hills above the town. You are in for a treat if you do as the hiking isn't too busy and it's easy to get a good view for your efforts (assuming the weather is being kind to you rather than obscuring your view with mist.

Considering Grasmere does at least get quiet after hours and is a great walking base, it does make that reasonable compromise between commercialism and convenience to natural beauty.

Despite its touristy air, I can imagine what life must have been like here in Wordsworth day; rather remote and with its slate built houses, even rather dour on those frequent rainy days.

Overall, despite the bustle of tourists by day Grasmere still just about manages to retain most of its original interest and beauty; my tip is to come right at the beginning or end of the tourist season, stay for a night or two and bring or buy your hiking gear for the best Grasmere experience.

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