Day 3: Mountain Biking Around Windermere
Having spent most of the previous day seated in a bus, a full day of self-propelled outdoor activity was in order! My running fitness isn’t as great as I’d like it to be for running around these fells, so I opted for mountain biking instead. If this is something you’re thinking of doing, you’ll be in good company here as the roads around these parts do see a fair amount of cyclists and bikes can be rented easily at a shop by the train station (it costs around £25 per day).
Setting off in the morning, a cold and extremely foggy morning, I cycled towards the ferry crossing to cross over from the right-side of Lake Windermere to the left. I was already familiar with the right bank and wanted a change of scenery, hence my decision to make the crossing, but the mountain biking trails are also on the left bank so that’s where you need to go if you’re not looking for road cycling routes.
The ferry crosses frequently and costs something like 50p per bike passenger. Quick and easy.
Upon getting off the ferry, the cycle and hiking paths are well indicated and it was only a short ride on vehicle roads until I hit the woods.
There are clear gravel paths through the trees, so this is well-suited for beginner mountain bikers like myself. The trails were sufficiently bumpy and “adventurous” in parts to get the old heart beating a little, but not so epic that it took your attention away from the lush surroundings.
Heading north, I soon reached Wray Castle where I stopped for a quick drink and snack. From what I could see, the castle has been redone in recent times and converted into a sort of recreational building where families can enjoy themselves with various activities. Being easter, there was of course, an easter egg hunt taking place on the castle grounds.
Taking the B5286 road back south, the gravel paths were now well behind me and I was back on tarmac once again. The roads took me past acres of farmland, and I stopped a good few times to catch my breath from all the uphill sections, but also to catch a glimpse at all the cute spring lambs.
It wasn’t too long before I was at Hawkshead, passing by the Beatrix Potter Gallery. I’m not a particular fan of Beatrix Potter, having never grown up with her books, but it did seem like a very popular tourist destination! As it was around lunchtime by this point, I started looking for a warm spot to rest my weary legs and fill my tummy. The sun didn’t seem to want to make a prominent appearance and I was fairly cold from having spent all morning outdoors.
There wasn’t a whole lot of choices near Near Sawrey (that’s literally the name of the region! It compliments Far Sawrey!), so I walked into the first warm looking pub I saw. Thankfully it was a good one with some traditional comfort food on offer. One of course, cannot leave the Lake District without trying the traditional Cumberland sausage, so the choice was made!
Things began to brighten up after lunch, with the sun finally deciding to make its long-awaited appearance. After a little more exploring around the Sawreys, I made the crossing back towards the East bank of Lake Windermere, deciding to stop by one of the cafes for some traditional tea and scones.
I’ll say at this point that there are numerous biking routes that one can take around the area. As you can imagine, there are quite a number of hills to climb up and down, so be sure to plan your route according to your fitness level. It does seem like there are many more road biking options though, so if you’re looking for choice, maybe opt for a hybrid or road bike, rather than a heavy mountain bike (which really isn’t suited for hill climbing!).
Day 4: Exploring Grasmere
I mentioned the town of Grasmere briefly in my previous post, as a place we unfortunately didn’t have time to stop by during the Ten Lakes Spectacular tour. I therefore decided that my last half day would be spent exploring this little town, famous for its unique gingerbread and its resident poet, Wordsworth.
Logistics-wise, it is fairly easy to travel to Grasmere from Windermere. There are a number of local buses that run frequently, with the journey taking 30 minutes. The fare is a little pricey though (at around £8), but it’s an unlimited day ticket that allows you to get off and on at various points along the route, should you want to go on a bit of a DIY tour.
Arriving on a sunny day like this was, I can definitely see the attraction of Grasmere that makes it one of the most visited places in Lakeland. The town is fairly small, with most of the action happening along the River Rothay. A couple of hours (if that) is all you really need to see the town.
There are two main attractions that you shouldn’t miss, the first of which is the famous Sarah Nelson gingerbread. Be sure to queue up for the original, rather than settling for an imposter! Now I’m not a particularly huge fan of gingerbread, but I’m glad I tried this because the taste and texture really was very unique. They are also extremely moreish so beware!
Right next to the gingerbread shop is the Wordsworth Daffodil Garden. This being spring meant that the garden was really at its best, with all the daffodils in full bloom. Lovely!
Located nearby is the final resting place of William Wordsworth where he lies alongside family members by the River Rothay.
Slightly further out from the centre of town is Dove Cottage, where Wordsworth resided whilst in Grasmere. I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to visit the cottage (only managing to drive by it quickly), so I can’t tell you if it’s worth a visit or not. 🙁 (If you have, tell me about it!)
After a lazy lunch in the sun by the river, it was time to head back to the Windermere train station for a horrendous train journey back to London (4 trains to take consecutively on a bank holiday Monday = no fun at all!). I left feeling happy and refreshed, but did feel like two more days would’ve been welcomed to really explore what the region has to offer. I am, in particular, keen to do one of the epic hikes so it looks as if I’m going to need to plan another visit to the Lake District, this time outside of a bank holiday weekend! 😉