British escape, part III: Grasmere and the Lake District

This is my third post featuring a spring trip abroad.
For previous travel posts, visit here.

Ever been somewhere you stopped and thought, Wow. This is living. And then the world you normally inhabit — “home,” wherever that place might be — just colors in comparison to this crazy, awesome neck of the woods you had the pleasure to visit?

Well, that’s how I felt about Grasmere, England. Our third day on a travel tour in April brought us to this gorgeous spot in the Lake District, which I’ve read about in Jane Austen novels for years but never researched. Um, the Lake District? Incredible. Really heart-stoppingly gorgeous, and a place I can’t wait to return to someday.

But I’ll have to wait. Because I have zero idea how we got there.

I was so zonked out on this trip, friends, I can’t even tell you. Jet lag has long been an issue for me, but I was still struggling to stay awake days after arriving in England. It was a challenge to keep my eyes open anytime we straggled onto our tour bus, and what a shame — because I know I missed some of the most breathtaking views as we drove from Leeds to the Lake District and up to Scotland. I’ve teased you with photos from this region before, but nothing does it justice.

We arrived in Grasmere around lunchtime, which was perfect — just in time for my first round of fish and chips! An old-fashioned steam train picked us up in the countryside and deposited us near a ferry, which took us across Lake Windemere. Our bus was waiting on the other side. It was brisk, like much of the trip, but the air was so clean and fresh! It felt like your lungs got a good scrubbing. Mom and I got hot chocolate and coffee drinks aboard the ferry, and our steaming beverages were served in real porcelain cups. Aboard a moving, swaying boat.

Oh, those fancy Brits!

The view from the ferry was incredible. Sailboats were framed by giant, rising hills, and we were close enough to the shore to see folks out for a leisurely stroll. It was one of those moments where you actually stop and think, “Someone lives here.” It seemed too lovely to be real — a vacation spot for foreigners, like us, and not somewhere you could actually establish roots. But, like many of the gorgeous spots I’ve seen, folks do live there — and they’re happy to see you.

It was just that way in Grasmere. Our tour guide, Steve, took us first to see the grave of William Wordsworth, famous poet, and discuss the time in which he lived in the village. One of the Lake Poets, Wordsworth lived and worked at Dove Cottage in Grasmere for many years, and the town’s famous resident is still present everywhere. On our ride away from Grasmere, Steve recited Wordsworth’s “Daffodils” — a great close to our afternoon there.

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;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze . . .

Like everywhere we traveled, we didn’t have nearly as much time in the village as I would have liked. A quick lunch of fish, chips and mushy peas was washed down with Diet Pepsi — the first time I’d seen that particular drink on our trip. We could occasionally find a Diet Coke, sure, but Pepsi products seemed non-existent in England! I’m not big on the whole Pepsi/Coke debate, but it was strange not to have options. Also, they had iced tea in a case at the restaurant — something else that got us over-the-top pumped. Because, you know, you can’t ask for iced tea in England . . . they think you’re crazy. Or sacrilegious.

Just don’t do it.

Awesome beverage selection included, we had a wonderful time in the Lake District. I was too taken in by the scenery to snap many photos, but I did document the homemade gingerbread my sister snagged. Unlike our death march through Italy, we were well-fed on this vacation . . . and I’m still fantasizing about some of the meals we enjoyed abroad. Especially when, you know, I’m reminiscing about this following a measly lunch of salad with a fat-free dressing in the office.


If you ever find yourself in the Lake District, don’t miss out on Grasmere and its incredible surroundings; I’ll be thinking about this leg of our journey for a long time. And from there, it was on to Scotland . . .

Tune in next time!


24 thoughts on “British escape, part III: Grasmere and the Lake District

  1. Wonderful pictures. Sounds like you’ve been to all the idyllic places! Now, you should really also have seen one of the run-down estates where people live amongst the drugdealers in dilapidated apartment buildings – oops, don’t want to spoil your memories! Seriously, there is so much beauty in Britain and I love to see your reports from your trip there.

    What was the fish and chips like? Nice chips, don’t you think? Did you have vinegar on them? Here in the Netherlands that is something unthinkable. We eat them with mayonnaise or tomato ketchup.

    • The fish and chips were delicious, Judith! I’ll cop to putting vinegar on my chips . . . it’s a tradition from home I just can’t shake. I’ve heard of folks dipping fries in mayonnaise, but I don’t think I could handle all that richness!

  2. Wow, absolutely beautiful! I find myself in awe often when I travel and imagine that people live and exist in these types of places. Then I have to fantasize. (At one point I had myself living in the Tatra Mountains, living in a hut and making sheep cheese.) I can’t wait to see what is up next!

    • Thanks Sandy! It is fun to imagine how people live in these remote, gorgeous locations . . . it’s so different from what I’m used to seeing every morning.

  3. Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing. I am about to add some travel writing to my own blog. It gives your readers a nice peak into your life.

    • Thanks, and I definitely agree! I love reading others’ travel posts and “traveling” from my desk. Gives me a chance to add to my “must visit someday” list, too!

  4. Grasmere is beautiful! I struggle with jet lag as well…even when the time difference is only a few hours…we’re going to Ireland next Spring Break and I’m worried I’ll sleep through the entire trip 😦

    • I was pretty drowsy, Patti, but the adrenaline definitely kicks in and pushes you to keep moving! I hope you have a fabulous time in Ireland next year — you’ll see my posts on that gorgeous country in coming weeks. 🙂

  5. We were on our way to a week’s holidays in Scotland two years ago when we decided to stop at Grasmere because, as a nice waitress told us, we’d find the best shortbread in the world.

    Grasmere was a great surprise. The short-bread from the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop was indeed the best we’ve ever tasted (did you have some?), Woodsworth’s grave was a pleasant surprise and the countryside around it seemed taken out of an Austen novel.

    I want to go back to visit the Beatrix Potter House.

    • So with you, Alex — and that was probably much of the appeal for me! It did feel like stepping into an Austen novel and gallivanting through the countryside. I did try the gingerbread, and it was delicious — in fact, I don’t think I had a bad meal in England! Only wish we’d had more time there . . . I would have loved to see the Beatrix Potter House, too.

  6. Gorgeous photos – they make me want to get on a plane right now and go visit the Lake District. I’ve always imagined that if I did, I might bump into Mr. Darcy!

    • I had an eye out for Mr. Darcy, Meredith, though I’m sorry to say I came home without any sort of Elizabeth Bennet-like experience. Still, the whole place has that vibe!

    • Yay! I hope you have a fabulous time, Lexi — Scotland impressed me so much. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the people were so friendly. We really had a great time!

    • Nothing like those fish and chips. I could go from some right now! And clotted cream fudge! (No mushy peas, though; not a fan.)

  7. I’m in the UK right now, and have thought about you more than once! It’s fabulous here – I can see why you love it.

    • Oh, Kathy — hope you’re having the greatest time ever! Yes, the UK is definitely the place of my heart. Can’t wait to hear about your adventures and see photos!

    • Hi Ray! We had a wonderful time in Grasmere and really enjoyed dining at the Cumbria Cafe. Can’t beat fish and chips, that’s for sure! Looking forward to returning someday!

  8. I just wanted to thank you for writing about your stop in Grasmere – we live a couple of hours away and yet had never been to that part of the Lake District before. After reading your post, we were inspired to go and am so glad we did, the scenery is just beautiful and the gingerbread really is the best.

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