In this part of the Lake District, the River Rothay runs between the mountains and Grasmere lake reflects lonely clouds. Spend a half day touring by car with an expert guide through the landscape and gardens that inspired one of England’s most distinguished poets.
Begin your day with a visit to Rydal Mount, William Wordsworth’s final and most longstanding home. It’s a beautiful house, preserved as it would have been during Wordsworth’s time, but the gardens are the crowning glory of this visit.
Ramble through the wild woodland, the artificial rock pools that Wordsworth created, ancient mounds, and fellside terraces (‘fell’ is a regional word for steep hill or mountain.) The poet designed the gardens himself and they remain as he intended, a lively destination no matter what the season. The house is now owned by the current Wordsworth family, and occupied by curator Peter Elkington and his family.
Just outside the pretty village of Grasmere is Dove Cottage, where Wordsworth lived for eight years and produced many of his greatest works, including I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud. Dorothy Wordsworth, William’s sister, also wrote her Grasmere Journals here, which documented daily life in the Wordsworth's Lake District home.
When you arrive at Dove Cottage, knock on the front door to be admitted for your guided tour. The cottage is small but immaculately preserved, and illustrates the simplicity and hardships of the household. The gardens are also beautifully kept, and the setting for many lively stories about the Wordsworth family. Both the house and gardens have been maintained according to Dorothy’s diary.
After your time at Dove Cottage you have the opportunity to explore Grasmere. A small but charming collection of stone houses, cafés and a couple of galleries, Grasmere sits alongside the River Rothay and directly north of Grasmere lake. Wordsworth, his wife Mary and sister Dorothy are buried here in the graveyard of the village church.
Beyond Grasmere, we highly recommend continuing with your driver-guide for a short wander along the scenic Loughrigg Terrace. One of Wordsworth’s best-loved viewpoints, the terrace provides aerial views across Grasmere and toward the surrounding crags and fells.