Scotland with The Wee White Dug has branched out and crossed the border into England. Our foray into new territory took us to the Lake District for a stay at The Lancrigg Hotel & Kitchen on the outskirts of Grasmere.
Grasmere – day one highlights
Arriving in Grasmere we instantly fell in love with the place. It was charming, and quintessentially English. A wander around the village confirmed that it was super dog friendly. There were dogs welcome signs everywhere – yay.
Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread
Mention the village to anyone who’s visited and they’ll start raving about the gingerbread shop. Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread has been baked in the shop daily since 1854. It’s still baked to Sarah’s original recipe, which is a closely guarded secret!
The smell of warm gingerbread was irresistible. We were lured inside, and left clutching a pack of gingerbread, neatly wrapped in greaseproof paper and a finger puppet.
Grabbing a couple of take-away coffees we headed back to the car to find out what all the fuss was about. It was delicious – crumbly, crunchy and full of flavour.
Sad eyes McGhee gazed pitifully at me until I relented and let him try a morsel.
A short hike at Thirlmere
Gingerbread scoffed, it was time to immerse ourselves in the great outdoors.
Thirlmere lies a few miles north of Grasmere. The once natural lake had its water level raised in the 19th century, to create a reservoir. A 10 mile path loops around the reservoir, so you can combine a good walk with pretty scenery.
Following the path north we reached a rocky outcrop, and scrambled up it. The view reminded me of the rugged landscape of the Trossachs.
Back at ground level, we turned south and followed the path to the water’s edge. Never one to miss the chance of a paddle The Wee White Dug shot straight into the water.
Paddle over and legs stretched, it was time for lunch.
Lunch – Baldry’s Tearoom
Choosing somewhere to eat in a village jam-jacked with fab looking, eateries wasn’t easy but we eventually settled on Baldry’s Tearoom. As soon as we sat down the boy was fussed over and offered biscuits.
Potato and leek soup, English mustard and corned beef sandwiches, and banana milkshakes were consumed – all excellent.
Wordsworth Daffodil Garden & St Oswald’s Church
The poet William Wordsworth lived in Grasmere from 1779 to 1808. While living in the village he wrote some of his finest works, including ‘I wander lonely as a cloud’.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils
The Wordsworth Daffodil Garden is a quiet haven in the heart of the bustling village. When we visited the daffodils were in bloom – perfect.
A few feet from the garden, in the grounds of St Oswald’s Church, stand the Wordsworth family graves. William, his wife Mary, sister Dorothy and several other family members are buried there.
A Scenic drive – Kirkstone Pass & “The Struggle”
Keen to see more of the Lakes, we decided to drive south towards Windermere. It was there that a sign for Kirkstone Pass caught our eye. We’re suckers for a mountain pass, so any thoughts of lingering in Windermere were abandoned for a scenic drive.
The road and scenery were incredible. Dry stane dyke ran the length of the pass, curving, twisting and turning with the contour of the land. It was a work of art.
We stopped at a small car park, to breathe in some fresh mountain air and snap photos. What a view, and once again so similar to Scotland.
We left the Kirkstone Pass via a different route. As soon as we spotted “The Struggle” on the road sign we couldn’t resist finding out if it was worthy of the name. It was steep and narrow but not a struggle. On two wheels going in the opposite direction it would have been an almighty struggle.
Where we stayed – The Lancrigg
The Lancrigg Hotel & Kitchen sits on the edge of Grasmere in 30 acres of mature woodland and garden. It’s surrounded by rugged countryside. We fell in love with the place before even setting foot inside.
Inside, the newly refurbished 10 bedroom hotel was every bit as delightful as the outside. The style had elements of traditional country house in keeping with the age of the building, but it also reminded me of Marrakech and the 1970s. An eclectic combination, but it really worked.
Our room – Easdale
We stayed in the ground floor Easdale room. It was a beautifully decorated and spacious room, with a sofa, and seating area by the window. We had a view of the hotel garden and surrounding hills too.
Our en-suite shower room was compact but luxurious. Quality local toiletries from Bath House were provided. I left, a fan of their patchouli & black pepper shower gel.
Relaxing at The Lancrigg
As gorgeous as our room was, the sun was shining outside, and we had a beautiful garden at our disposal, so we headed outdoors via The Poet’s Cafe Bar to catch some much-needed rays. It was so nice to sit outside with a chilled drink, listening to the chirp of bird song.
Keen to spend time in our lovely room too, we took a second round of drinks back there to enjoy by the window. I could have sat there for hours. I had everything I needed by my side – my two favourite boys, wine, gingerbread and a view.
Eating at The Lancrigg
Later, we left the boy snoozing to enjoy a peaceful dinner in the hotel restaurant. Sometimes it’s nice to eat without the low, menacing “feed me” growls and sad eyes.
Ambient lighting and soft jazz gave the restaurant a relaxing vibe. It had incredible views too, but in the end it was the food that stole the show.
Wonderful road trips should be toasted with bubbles, so we ordered a bottle of prosecco to go with dinner.
Mr G started with blacksticks blue and marinated tomato bruschetta. Cunningly selected I felt, as I’m allergic to blue cheese so sharing would be out of the question. My starter of asparagus, toasted cashew, roast pimento, sesame & soy, sounds simple but the flavour was amazing. I wolfed it down.
One delicious course down, we were really looking forward to our mains.
Mr G cleared his plate of roast cod tagliatelle in record time. The verdict was superb. I stuck with a nutty theme and had chicken with pistachios, served with sweet potato mash and brandy cream. I loved it, and the creative use of slightly unusual ingredients.
We both finished with a slice of vanilla cheesecake, then collected the boy from our room and waddled to The Poet’s Cafe Bar for a nightcap.
A welcoming glow
Nightcaps down the hatch, we took the boy out for a quick potter before bed. It was a beautiful, still night. The moon cast a cool light in the cloudy night sky, and the windows of The Lancrigg emitted a warm, inviting glow. There was something really captivating about the scene. It drew you towards The Lancrigg.
A new day dawns in Grasmere
The next day we woke to blue skies, and were champing at the bit to spend time outdoors before driving home.
I took the boy out for his morning sniff-a-thon. He was in fine voice, barking his way around the leafy paths. I struggled to cling to the feeling of zen like calm that had enveloped me since our arrival at The Lancrigg.
Ears still ringing, I sat down to a tasty cooked breakfast and a nice pot of coffee. The relaxing ambience of the hotel restaurant soon washed over me and my feeling of inner calm was restored.
Grasmere – day two highlights
A hike to Easdale Tarn
Two popular hiking trails cut through the grounds of The Lancrigg. One leads to Helm Crag and the other to Easdale Tarn.
Since crag hinted at sheer drops, I suggested we find out what a tarn was.
Our walk took us along a rocky lane bordered by dry stane dyke. Not long into it we met a flock of native Herdwick sheep loafing lazily. Well it was Sunday morning.
They took off as soon as they spotted us. No more ‘easy like a Sunday morning’ for them.
Normally the boy sets our pace (brisk), but this morning our pace was set by a flock of sheep. The boy adjusted his speed to that of our woolly pacesetters, and we all stormed along, a weird walking convoy of sheep, dog and human.
From time to time the boy stopped to wolf down some sheep poo. I kept to the rear, struggling to conceal my laughter as Mr G ranted. Combined with the blistering pace that was nearly ripping his arm out of its socket, the poo eating was in danger of bringing on a Mr G meltdown.
We finally shook off the sheep, when we turned to follow the path uphill.
The path petered out and was replaced by stepping stones that spanned the mother of all bogs. Bog hopping – just like Scotland.
It was nice to get out into the hills again.
A welcome committee of Herdwick sheep greeted us on arrival at Easdale Tarn.
The boy refused to pose nicely for a photo by the lochan thingy the English call a tarn.
We descended via a non-boggy route. Light danced on the hillside, lighting up the landscape. It was unbelievably pretty and so green.
We stopped briefly at a waterfall with a not so lovely name. Sour Milk Gill Falls thunder down the hillside from their source – Easdale Tarn.
We continued through farmland, and over a quaint hump-backed bridge. The cheery yellow of The Lancrigg was visible in the distance.
Our walk ended where it had begun. In the gorgeous grounds of The Lancrigg Hotel & Kitchen.
We couldn’t leave Grasmere without paying Dove Cottage a visit. The cottage dates to the early 17th century and was once an inn called ‘Dove and Olive branch’. After lying empty for a number of years William Wordsworth moved in with his sister Dorothy. Later came a wife – Mary, and several children, until the house was bursting at the seams and the family were forced to move to a larger home.
Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when literary greats such as Sir Walter Scott, Thomas De Quincey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge visited.
The Wordsworths were keen gardeners, and loved to immerse themselves in nature. William would write in the garden of Dove Cottage, drawing inspiration from his surroundings.
The ‘Rock of Names’ stands behind Dove Cottage. It once stood near the shore of Thirlmere.
Many people carved their initials on the rock over the years (including William and Dorothy Wordsworth). It was destroyed by builders when Thirlmere Reservoir was created, but the shattered pieces were saved and turned into a cairn. In the 1980s those pieces were moved to Dove Cottage and reassembled.
All too soon it was time to say a reluctant farewell to the Lake District.
The Lancrigg Hotel and Lake District – my verdict
I’ve always had a notion I’d like the Lake District, but I never expected to leave a little piece of my heart there. Everything about our trip had been perfect – the location, the weather and most of all our wonderful hotel. Beautiful rooms, an idyllic setting, friendly staff and fantastic food – who could want for anything more?
The loveliest spot that man hath found.
A huge thank you to The Lancrigg Hotel & Kitchen for kindly hosting our stay. Although our dinner and stay were provided on a complimentary basis, all opinions are my own.
Until next time ………