In an earlier post I wrote about the bus ride from Keswick to Grasmere and back. It was good to have an indefinite amount of time to explore Grasmere. The previous visit we made was spoiled by being unable to park for long enough to make a relaxed visit to Allan Bank. This time we had a choice of (hourly) buses to return to Keswick, where we had parked.
Allan Bank makes an unusual visitor experience. There are not many items of value there, unlike many National Trust houses with their treasures. Visitors are invited to make themselves at home. There are puzzles and games, books, places to read, write or draw, a record-player and vinyl, tea and coffee making facilities and an elderly piano, which may be unlocked for careful pianists.
Refreshments are available or picnics can be eaten outside. The tea room offers light lunches and we enjoyed soup and a roll, while listening to music by Satie.
The house suffered a fire, which caused major damage. Once it had been restored, it was opened to the public rather than being rented out. We were looking around one of the rooms, when someone told us how he had stood in that room and been able to see the sky. He mentioned how pleased he was with what he had done there. His name is Paul Lewis and he oversaw the renovation of the house. It was a coincidence that we were visiting at the same time as he was there. He told us the story of how the blaze had taken hold, the tenant thinking the noise in the night was made by deer eating. She went out to scare the deer away, turned round and saw the flames. I asked about the glass for the windows, which seem to let in a lot of light. They were sourced from Poland. He also told us about the biomass boiler and the government finance available for the scheme.
Paul Lewis mentioned the famous former residents. He was not very sympathetic to the Wordsworths, who had not appreciated the house’s charms! Canon Rawnsley, a founder of the National Trust, had earned his respect. We later found an exhibition with videos, which was very informative.
Outside in the grounds (where there is only disabled parking) there is plenty to explore. A circular route gives surprise views and has some unusual features. This is a place to visit come rain, come shine. The dry sunny weather we enjoyed was ideal for exploring outside. Rocks can become slippery in wet weather. The puzzles would keep many families happy on wet days. The walk from the village to the house is about a quarter of a mile.
After we had explored, we returned to Grasmere and had a look around St Oswald’s Church and the area immediately around it. The graveyard has the graves of several members of the Wordsworth family. There is also a daffodil garden, although it was a bit late for daffodils.
Blossoming trees made everywhere pretty in pink and white, with the fresh greens of new leaves. Grasmere (which relies on tourism) has been rather cut off from visitors from the west since the collapse of the A591. Now the road has reopened visitors can arrive from both directions. Coach tours can take their traditional routes and hopefully life will return to normal.
Go Herdwick is an art project to raise money for the Calvert Trust.