Arrival to Grasmere and hike up Loughrigg

Grasmere Travel Blog

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Early morning bfast at Ambleside YHA

So our stay in Ambleside was over. I had a fairly good idea of how "far" Grasmere is, so I wasn't really broken hearted or anything, it seemed just a stone's throw away. Infact, one of our roommates for the night - a Chinese guy was actually hiking from Ambleside to Grasmere, whilst I was going in a nice heated bus! I liked the drive to Grasmere and I could tell I'd have a fab time here, it seems a lot nicer and tinier than Grasmere. As I got down from the bus stop, there were tons of kids all headed home, I asked one lady where the YHA was and turns out she was coming from there, and pointed me towards it.

Grasmere Butharlyp Howe YHA
There are 2 YHAs in Grasmere with, the MOST confusing names I've come across my life in backpacking across UK hostels: Grasmere Butharlyp Howe and Grasmere Thorney How. We were staying in the former, and it's closer to the city centre.

The hostel is a sight to behold. And I'm not lying. The Ambleside YHA was a big building located by Lake Windermere, it seemed beautiful in a "lake resort" kind of way. This Grasmere hostel on the other hand is inside this big expanse of green, colourful autumn trees leading up the hostel as it sits all alone in front of scaling high mountains behind. This was nice in a "sit by the fire with a brandy" kind of way. I'll be writing a detailed review of the hostel later, but suffice it to say that this is a very nice hostel.

Inside the hostel lounge
The staff is very friendly, the lounge is very nice and the rooms are fairly large with surprisingly noisefree bunker beds. The only 2 big disadvantages are that the steps are very steep and tough to climb up and down with luggages. Next: the self serve kitchen is in another building so it's quite a pain to wear your raincoat and shoes just to go warm a glass of cocoa. And if I maybe picky, a 3rd big problem is just 1 computer with internet, so we had long queues.

As soon as we checked in, we spent some time around the lounge. I really liked it - it's got these fancy sofas, a piano, kind of very upmarket considering this this a "low budget accomodation" for backpackers. I spoke to the YHA staff (very friendly girl) and we zeroed in on doing th Loughrigg hike. But just walking into the hostel with our luggage, we knew that this was a photo opp not to be missed.

So as soon as we walked out, we had a long 15 minute photo session. Just about every angle of the hostel merits a photo I reckon. And as already mentioned a million times over, having the autumn colours was such a useful thing.

Even more wicked was the walk from the hostel to the city centre. Our plan for the day was to first hit Dove Cottage - not that I'm a major Wordsworth fan (infact I couldn't recall a single poem of his, for shame), but going to Grasmere and not seeing Dove Cottage is like going to England and not eating Thornton's! ;-) There's a picture titled "walk from the hostel to city centre" that features 4 buildings (believe it or not, one is an art gallery and the other is the local Co-op) which should tell you how lovely the surroundings were.

The city centre is very nice.

Grasmere YHA behind me - splendid no?!
There's 1 narrow street that runs through the hills, and it's filled with either eating places or hiking and rainy/winter gear stores. Precious little of anything else, a testament to the popular resort that the Lake District is. I made my way to Dove Cottage and, well it really is like any other house in this area, isn't it? I wasn't quite sure if we shoudl do the tour, and I was thinking "waste of time"? But, but, but... I did take the tour and it was worth every moment. The guide told us about Wordsworth, his wife, their 2 sisters and their kids that lived in this house along with a guest... it was scary! The kitchen was so tiny, the bedrooms were quite small, and it's just unbelievable imagining that so many people lived here. As mentioned a few lines earlier, I'm not the greatest fan of poetry but I felt so honoured being in the same cottage that THE Wordsworth lived in.
Walk from the hostel to the city centre
I had no idea it was so old there was no concept of a sink those days, and the lady explained how Wordsworth and his sister would use water from a basin for cleansing purposes. She showed us their "toothbrushes", etc. It was very educational, I loved it. I also spent some time in the museum, I spent about 30 minutes and although it looks "small", I couldn't finish it in that time. Overall, I'm glad I went to Dove's Cottage - it was worth every penny.

We walked back to the city centre and stopped by a Deli for lunch. I had potato/leek soup with a cheese scone, and Vanilla cake for dessert. I love UK pastries and UK soups. For 1 thing, most UK soups are vegetarian, and their combo are excellent. Infact I think I've eaten better soups in the UK than in India. It was about 2pm now and my feet were already hurting, but we had to do our agenda for the day - more hiking!

We asked passers-by the way to Lough Rigg, it wasn't too far or so they said.

Walk to Dove Cottage
The problem here wasn't the distance, it's just the rain had started and it seemed like it wouldn't let up. Don't get me wrong, infact I love the rain and I had a new found appreciation for rain after this Sunday. But finding your way in the rain can be a bit of a pain when you're not used to it. Began my walk upto Loughrigg, walked about 2 miles or so on a proper road. it was uphill and nearly tiring. I swear I had started to limp!

And then I see the erstwhile National Trust signpost Loughrigg. Boy it was lovely! The path was a lot better made than Langdale, as in, there were stone steps but it was high. Very steep. And the rain had started, and the higher you go, the windier it gets. Infact we met one of the guys returning from the peak and his comment to me was "keep your head below the clouds".

Dove Cottage - Wordsworth's residence
I thought he was speaking metaphorically, apparently he wasn't! But on this trek, with the rain and the wind, I just got a new found appreciation for the concept of hiking, for the rain and nature in general. I also found respect for nature - how nature does her own thing and we humans have to go with the flow. And I also came to respect fellow hikers - hikers who don't care for the rain or snow but put on their hiking boots and clothes and say "screw the weather", and go on hiking. The higher we climbed, the colder - wetter and windier it got. And the better I felt. It felt real, I think there's beauty sometimes in struggling to see a good thing. it didn't hurt that I was getting wet. However, one bad thing did happen - my camera started acting funny, which it has been to this date.
Not completely spoilt, just acting funny.

I kept going higher and higher, and at one point I couldnt' take it anymore. It got way way too windy. Really windy. I was having a problem standing, and I was even scared to open my camera lest it blow away! It was that windy. Besides, it was about 5pm, it was getting dark and the clouds and rain were showing no signs of letting up. So I made my way down, which was also quite tricky as the stones had started to get slippery. By the time I reached the road which winds down to Grasmere, it was already a few minutes past 430pm but getting dark. Walked back to the city centre, and went to Sarah Nelson's Gingerbread shop, the oldest in Grasmere (and perhaps even all of England?). I like how "small" the shop is and how it's filled with goodies.

Lunch - soup and cake
However I didn't take too well to gingerbread and hence didn't buy it after eating about 1 biscuit for 60p.

For dinner, grabbed some naan and Patak's curry for dinner. I was hungry - and tired - and wet. And I was offiically limping with all the pain. The biggest question I had was - when I go back, what do I remove first as I was dripping head to toe. Anyway headed back to the hostel - had a shower and left all my stuff in the "drying room" in the basement. It was packed and smelly. I finally put my socks and shoes on the heater to warm up and dry by the next day morning. Went to the neighbouring building to cook, the kitchen is a bit small and in 2 parts-  you have the stoves in one narrow room and the kitchen and cutlery in another, but the dining room is very cosy and very nice.

City centre
Finished dinner around 10pm, surfed the net as I hadn't in a couple of days, and turned in by around 1030/11pm.  We had about 6 senior citizens as our roommates, but very good and hilarious company. So even though they were snoring and farting all night, it didn't hurt much.

moshers_moll says:
Great blog. Ahh happy memories too. long time since I've been here :-)
Posted on: May 19, 2009
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Early morning bfast at Ambleside Y…
Early morning bfast at Ambleside …
Grasmere Butharlyp Howe YHA
Grasmere Butharlyp Howe YHA
Inside the hostel lounge
Inside the hostel lounge
Grasmere YHA behind me - splendid …
Grasmere YHA behind me - splendid…
Walk from the hostel to the city c…
Walk from the hostel to the city …
Walk to Dove Cottage
Walk to Dove Cottage
Dove Cottage - Wordsworths reside…
Dove Cottage - Wordsworth's resid…
Lunch - soup and cake
Lunch - soup and cake
City centre
City centre
The oldest Gingerbread shop - Sara…
The oldest Gingerbread shop - Sar…
Walk to Loughrigg
Walk to Loughrigg
Yay, Loughrigg!
Yay, Loughrigg!
Hike up Loughrigg
Hike up Loughrigg
Heather heather heather....
Heather heather heather....
Grasmere Hostels review
5 start comfort in the Wordsworth's land
I stayed in this hostel for a couple of nights and I can safely say it may not have the historic importance of Dove's Cottage, but it's extremely comf… read entire review
Grasmere
photo by: Vikram