Around Grasmere - a Wordsworth walk

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This walk takes you around the village that William and Dorothy Wordsworth made their home. It takes you past spots that were particularly significant to them. A circuit of the lake is included, although this can be undertaken as a separate walk of around 4 miles if you wish. Although the other section is near the village it goes along a tranquil river bank and through segments of National Trust woodland. One part is through a private wood on permissive paths, a place that was much loved by the Wordsworths and for good reason. The lake circuit is very beautiful.

The Wordsworths saw Grasmere valley as their home; they came here in 1799 after many years of wanderings, William aged 29, his sister a year younger. It was almost a return to their birthplace, both having been born in Cockermouth, some 25 miles from Grasmere. Separated as children after the deaths of their parents, in many ways Dove Cottage became William and Dorothy’s first real home.

The Grasmere years were remarkable for the poetry of Wordsworth and the journals of his sister Dorothy. Some of the greatest poems in English Literature were composed here, ‘The Prelude’, ‘Intimations of Immortality’ and ‘Composed Upon Westminster Bridge’ among them. Dorothy’s journals are beautifully recorded moments in their lives in this valley. This walk takes us to places associated with the Wordsworths and their lives here.

It is hard to comprehend now, but before the arrival of the poets and thinkers popularly called 'The Romantics', the Lake District was considered wild, inhospitable and uncivilised. The ideas of Wordsworth, Coleridge and others totally transformed how this rugged but arresting landscape was seen and experienced. At the same time, they elevated walking to a worthwhile, inspiring and mentally invigorating activity. As a group, then, they had a huge effect on the notion of walking as a pastime that continues to be felt today. This alone makes them worth a little study.

Dove Cottage is now part of the Wordsworth Trust Museum. The museum is packed with original notebooks, artworks and artefacts associated with the Wordsworths and their contemporaries. You can walk around the cottage and get a real feel for how they lived. A visit to the museum and cottage provides a perfect complement to walking through the landscape that so inspired them. The Wordsworth Museum Trust puts on special exhibitions and runs many events. See www.wordsworth.org.uk for more information. There is a cafe and gift shop on the site.

While this walk is low level some parts are uneven underfoot and paths can be muddy where fields are crossed (although work is being done to improve the surfaces).

England - North England - Cumbria - Lake District - South East

Features

Cafe, Church, Flowers, Food Shop, Gift Shop, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Lake/Loch, Museum, National Trust, Play Area, Pub, Public Transport, River, Toilets, Woodland
24/06/2012 - Judy Brua

Thanks for adding the comments about what you are seeing at the various waymarks. Where there are notes about some of the background of the poems, we found the poems on the internet on my smartphone and spent some time reading them out loud. Knowing the background and being in the place made poems that seemed turgid at school come alive.

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