This morning saw me helping an elderly couple who wanted to visit the areas between Bowness-on-Windermere and Keswick. As they did not have private transport and the skies were a bright blue with every indication of good weather for the day ahead, I suggested that they hop on the buses to tour around. Thus, they walked to Bowness Bay where they boarded a bus traversing the A591 from here to Ambleside and Grasmere, from whence they took another bus to Keswick.
Our couple returned just before 7 pm today, tired but satisfied with their lovely day out. They had even bought some Grasmere gingerbread which they insisted I should try. I did not have the heart to tell them that I had tasted it before as they were so pleased to have brought back a little something for me.
Blenheim Lodge is in Bowness-on-Windermere and located a mere 5 – 7 minutes walk from Bowness Bay. The journey from Bowness to Keswick takes no longer than 35 – 45 minutes, and there are a few places to stop off inbetween, such as Ambleside, Rydal and Grasmere. The distance between Bowness and Grasmere is just 10 miles, with Ambleside and Rydal straddling between at 5 and 8 miles respectively.
On the way, there are some stunning views to be had as one journeys by bus to these quintessentially Lakeland towns and villages. The A591 – where it passes through the Lake District National Park – is one of the most picturesque roads in Britain, with some lovely lake and mountain views gracing its 44.9 mile length. This is the road that our elderly couple traversed on the local buses, numbers 555 and 599.
I asked the couple what they liked about the places they saw today. They enjoyed walking through Ambleside and Grasmere, but did not stop at Rydal. However, they were not so keen on Keswick as they felt that it was rather ordinary – just a big town. I think they liked the first two places better because they are more compact and easier to get around on foot.
Bowness, Ambleside, Grasmere, Rydal and Keswick all have their individual charms to entice the shopaholic, walker, gourmet, and sightseer. Bowness-on-Windermere, as its name suggests, sits on the shores of England’s largest natural lake. The Dales Way and viewpoints easily accessed en-route at the back of Blenheim Lodge make for lovely walks.
Ambleside has many shops selling walking and climbing gear, with one of them, Gaynor’s, being the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in the area. Stock Ghyll Force, a waterfall, is also easily accessed off the main street in Ambleside.
Rydal, a tiny village strung along the A591, is located by Rydal Water, one of William Wordsworth’s favourite lakes. The poet used to live at Rydal Mount, which is open to visitors. In 1847, Wordsworth planted ‘a host of daffodils’ in what is known as Dora’s Field – a plot of land between the house and main road, which still blooms with these delicate yellow flowers today.
A couple of miles from Rydal is Grasmere, where Wordsworth lived at Allan Bank. On 23rd March 2011, The Guardian reported: ‘Wordsworth home damaged in blaze’. (www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/mar/23/wordsworth-allan-bank-home-fire). Allan Bank had been Wordsworth’s home between his longer stay at Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount. Dove Cottage, a popular visitor attraction, is located just off the main road into Grasmere village.
From Grasmere, the bus travels through some stunning mountain scenery before arriving in Keswick, where may be found Derwentwater. By Derwentwater is The Theatre on the Lake, which is open year round. Keswick is a large market town and a good starting point for hikes into the mountains close by. The diversity of walking and climbing shops in Keswick is testament to the popularity of this town with walkers and climbers.
Our elderly guests only had a few hours this afternoon to explore this part of the Lake District, and were therefore unable to enjoy much more than a cursory look at these Lakeland towns and villages. In order to truly explore and discover the attractions and scenery of these places, one would need much more time than what they had at their disposal.
Most guests staying at Blenheim Lodge are, like them, limited for time. Thus I would suggest making their days out special by doing the things they love best: walking; boating; sailing; climbing; shopping; eating; ghyll scrambling; abseiling; cycling; riding; mountain biking; sightseeing; going to visitor attractions, historic homes, gardens and monuments; and so on. And of course if you want to do it all, there is always another time to visit, when we would happily welcome you back for a stay again and again.
‘Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’