This summer, I finally got a chance to visit the Lake District in England. While I spent time in several of the villages, Grasmere was by far my favorite, and not just because of their legendary gingerbread.
Grasmere is just one of the dozens of picturesque English villages throughout the Lake District. Windermere is more popular and busier, particularly due to Beatrix Potter, the author of Peter Rabbit and her three dozen other publications. Then again, I only got to see a handful of the towns, touring around with someone very special to me, and someday I look forward to seeing more of the region.
Hiking Around Rydal Water and Grasmere
Note: Grasmere and Windermere are actually the names of the lakes, as a “mere” is an old British term for a lake or arm of the sea. The principal village next to these lakes shares the same name for convenience. Below when I mention hiking to Grasmere, I’m actually referring to the lake which is on the south side of the village.
We could not have picked a better day to go hiking, even though the weather in the area is as fickle as Edinburgh and more often than not it was raining. A sheepdog show was going on between Ambleside and Grasmere, which was a boon as it gave us additional parking in an otherwise inaccessible field. From there, it was only a half-mile walk to the trailhead at the Pelter Bridge Car Park.
The trail quickly branches off into several paths, one of which leads past Rydal Cave before circling back to Ambleside. We chose the trail along the shores of Rydal Water, one of the two small lakes on the River Rothay before it empties into Windermere Lake. I wish we had brought our bathing suits, although a couple of people we saw swimming were wearing drysuits. The water was certainly cold!
We continued along the trail, passing through tall ferns and by an old, dilapidated farmhouse before arriving at Grasmere 1.5 miles down the trail. A handful of people were sunbathing on the grass, while a couple of kids were brave enough to be playing in the water (something I was wont to do as a child too). Finally, the temptation was too much. We rolled up our pants’ legs and waded out into the water. Yep, it was freezing! But it was also comfortable with the smooth pebbles massaging the soles of our feet.
We could have gone further down the trail but it was getting late and we wanted to make it to the gingerbread shop before they closed. We also could have walked to the gingerbread shop, a mere 1.2 miles further, but…well…we didn’t.
Relaxing at Faeryland Grasmere
While Faeryland sounds like an amusement park, it’s actually a wonderful little cafe on the outskirts of Grasmere village. Proudly serving their own range of faery-themed teas, it’s the perfect place to relax and watch the ducks play about. In the garden sits an old caravan, and there are rowboats to hire for £15 ($18.70) an hour. The cafe doesn’t have internet, so this is really your relaxation location.
Other than teas, they also serve coffee, homemade cakes and ice cream. I would have expected it to be a lot busier, but it’s a bit off the main road of the village. If you need internet, you could go to the Potting Shed Cafe down the road, but I’d recommend the Faeryland Cafe for its charm and scenery. Just give your social media a rest for a couple hours and enjoy the view!
Sampling the Grasmere Gingerbread
When I was first told about Grasmere, it was specifically because of the gingerbread they made there. Since 1854, Grasmere Gingerbread has been creating a product that is truly unique. It’s actually like a mini loaf of bread, strongly flavored with ginger and molasses. However, the exact recipe is a trade secret.
I don’t know that they actually export their gingerbread all over the world, but they definitely have travelers coming from all over to get their samples…or large boxes. The line was quite long out the cottage and down the sidewalk, although it moved quickly. The store inside is barely big enough for three or four people at a time, plus a few people in the hallway. If you’re planning on getting some gingerbread at the shop, make sure to leave yourself a good half hour or more.
Spending More Time in Grasmere
If you’re planning to go to Grasmere for more than a day, make sure to budget for it. The Lake District is not exactly a place for budget travelers. Other than the hostel in Kendal, accommodations for a night start at about $50 and go way up from there. Then again, if you have the wherewithal, check out all the spas in the area. I certainly plan to next time I’m there. Just like with Faeryland, this region is built for relaxation.
I’d love to go back myself someday, mainly for the hikes. The views are simply stunning. While I’m quite partial to the scenery of Scotland, the Lake District isn’t too dissimilar, and I have no doubt I barely scratched the surface of amazing hikes and beautiful spots in the few days I got to explore there.
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I’ve explored Scotland far more than England, but here are a few of the places I’ve been to that you might like as well.
- A Bath in Bath: Enjoying the Thermae Spa
- My Visit to Stonehenge Was All About the Magic
- Who Knew the Roman Baths Were So Extensive?
Finally here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.
- 5 Steps to Book Cheap Flights
- Hostels: To Book or Not to Book
- Is Workaway Worth it for the Traveler?
- Click here to claim your $25 credit with AirB&B