Grasmere from Helm Crag
The name of Grasmere is known internationally for its association with the poet William Wordsworth, who lived for many years at Dove Cottage, with his sister Dorothy (with whom, it is frequently rumoured,…)
Dove Cottage remains preserved to the south east of the village proper, among the clump of houses among the trees to the left of the Lake in this picture, available for inspection by an admiring public, upon payment of a perennially exorbitant fee.
Having studied “the old sheep of the Lake District” (© Horace Rumpole) for A-Level, my interest in Grasmere is firmly rooted in matters far less ephemeral than clouds and daffodils.
Both the Lake and its verdant Vale form part of the course of the River Rothay, a major feeder of Windermere, and in ancient days the Lake, and it’s smaller twin, Rydal Water (hidden by the low wooded ridge in the centre of the picture) were but the northernmost part of a greater Windermere.
The view comes from the south ridge of Helm Crag, a fell as indelibly connected to the Village as the Old Man is to Coniston. But not one in a thousand visitors, seeing the Lake for the first time on the road from Ambleside, will hail Helm Crag: to a man, woman or child they will celebrate “the Lion and the Lamb”, the outcrop of rocks at the south end of Helm Crag’s summit ridge, and the official summit of the fell.
The rocks, seen from the road along the lakeshore, have the shape of a lion couchant, with the lamb at its feet. As the visitor draws nearer the side-road into the village, the Lamb disappears – into the Lion’s stomach!
Though it’s ringed by fells, Grasmere is still a tourist hive. Only in the Vale’s Eastern Wall, the afternoon leg of the Fairfield Horseshoe, do the fells rise towards a superior height. Grasmere’s own fells are tiddlers: light expeditions for afternoon’s, or even long summer evenings. Even the ridge separating the Vale from Great Langdale doesn’t rise to the exciting fells until Grasmere is behind. But the Lion and the Lamb should never be missed out, not with views like this to reward the easy effort.
It’s a fell of some significance to me too, my first expedition alone, my reintroduction to fellwalking after an eight year break since forsaking family holidays.
And Grasmere has more links to the arts than mere poetry. It’s been home to the Heaton Cooper family for over a century: three generations of painters represented in the Studio by the Village Green. Never neglect to visit the Studio if you are in Grasmere, especially if rain has driven you from even the most modest heights!