Skip to content

A Winter Walk from Grasmere

February 5, 2015
Grasmere. (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Grasmere. (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Considering the amount of snow we’ve had the roads into the Lake District were surprisingly clear, blasted that way by the freezing winds.

Grasmere (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Grasmere (c) John Bainbridge 2015

The lower slopes were free of snow and the highest peaks were picturesque but not with as much snow as you might expect.

Setting out from the church car park in Grasmere we followed the lane towards Red Bank, before heading down to the shores of Grasmere itself. Three quarters of the mere was frozen up, the sides not getting so much exposure to the sun.

We followed the path along the banks of the River Rothay until we reached Rydal Water, which like its neighbour was partially frozen.

I see the powers that be have created a new “easy access” path along the banks. All very well, but what a pity they had to destroy and bypass the lovely tumble of rocks that used to meet the shores of Rydal here. A natural feature that would have been known to William Wordsworth and Thomas de Quincey when they lived nearby.

Easy Access is one thing. Sanitising the paths of the Lake District so that they make the place resemble an urban park is quite another.

I think we have to accept that we can’t have easy access everywhere. I’m not fit enough to climb the Eiger Nordwand, but I wouldn’t want an elevator run up it.

Helm Crag from Grasmere (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Helm Crag from Grasmere (c) John Bainbridge 2015

On then past Rydal Church and Rydal Mount and out on to the coffin trail, which ran from Ambleside to Grasmere Church. A lovely old track which was once the path of the dead. What sad journeys would have been made this way.

Perhaps they heard a woodpecker as we did.

And superb snowy views over the hills around Grasmere.

On the way passing White Moss Tarn, now frozen and very weedy, on which Wordsworth indulged a passion for ice-skating.

Just as the track starts to dip down towards Dove Cottage, there is a coffin stone, where the corpse would have been placed so that the bearers might have a rest.

A view over Rydal from the Coffin Track. (c) John Bainbridge 2015

A view over Rydal from the Coffin Track. (c) John Bainbridge 2015

This coffin trail is an example of why I am so passionate about preserving the original lines of our footpaths and bridleways. They are a hugely important part of British social history – telling as much about our story as a stone circle or ancient castle.

Let’s always fight attempts to close them or indulge in silly diversions.

How my heart sinks when I read that Ramblers Association footpath officers are agreeing 93% of diversions.

They should know better!

They are there to stand up for the users of our paths. Not to crawl to landowners who don’t care a toss about country walkers.Grasmere, Rydal and the Coffin Road 017

The Coffin Stone. (c) John Bainbridge 2015

The Coffin Stone. (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Back into Grasmere by way of Dove Cottage, which I always think of being the home of opium-addict Thomas de Quincey as much as the Wordsworths – he did live there much longer.

A good fresh day to be out amongst the Lake District mountains.

Dove Cottage. (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Dove Cottage. (c) John Bainbridge 2015

More about the coffin trail – see blogs passim.

Advertisements
5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 5, 2015 8:00 pm

    I’m due there pretty soon – I’m hoping the snow waits for us 🙂 You got really superb photos of the lakes there!

    “Easy Access is one thing. Sanitising the paths of the Lake District so that they make the place resemble an urban park is quite another.

    I think we have to accept that we can’t have easy access everywhere. I’m not fit enough to climb the Eiger Nordwand, but I wouldn’t want an elevator run up it”

    Couldn’t agree more with your sentiments there – I’ve thought and said so on forums before but been shouted down by the politically-correct brigade who think absolutely everyone should be enabled to go absolutely everywhere.
    Carol.

  2. February 6, 2015 7:40 am

    I certainly hate new paths that destroy the original features of the area.

  3. Dr. George Hyde permalink
    February 9, 2015 3:10 pm

    John read your piece with interest and agree totally. By the way, Amazon managed to slip in a pop-up advert! Nothing is safe from neo-liberalism.
    George Hyde

  4. February 9, 2015 3:35 pm

    George, yes quite agree. I want to stroll in the steps of all those who came before – particularly writers who wrote about the countryside as it leads to a closer understanding of their work, regards John B.

  5. February 9, 2015 3:37 pm

    Should have added that the white house on the Helm Crag picture is the former Wordsworth home of Allen Bank. Well worth a look – National Trust.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: