Rambling around Allan Bank


Allan Bank is owned by the National Trust, and although it was badly damaged by a fire in 2011, the house reopened to the public about a year later. It was gifted to the National Trust by Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley on his death in 1920, and had been in private hands before that.

Allan Bank from the Easedale Road

Allan Bank from the Easedale Road

It is a house which many people do not notice on first arriving at Grasmere, but when you start to look out for it you realise it can actually be seen from all around the area and at surprising angles.

Looking out over Grasmere

Looking out over Grasmere

It is one of the houses that Wordsworth lived in - the others of course being Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount. He moved to Allan Bank in 1808 with several members of his family, and lived there for only about two years. However, unlike the other two houses, he did not enjoy living at Allan Bank, disliked its appearance, and disputed with the house owner on several occasions. Perhaps because of this rather negative link with Grasmere's most famous poet, the house is used more as a centre for activities and education rather than as a literary showcase. The link to the National Trust web site is https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/allan-bank-and-grasmere
The house is open to visitors, with several displays at any time together with a tea-room. But it also has a flourishing programme of events, including many for children, and the extensive grounds are free to be explored. Today, I'm going to talk a bit about the grounds.
The main approach is clearly signposted in the centre of the village, beside the Miller Howe cafe. The main track goes through a gate into the grounds - another day you can keep to the right, enjoy splendid views across at Seat Sandal, and wander through to Goody Bridge, Easedale, or the side of Silver Howe.
As soon as you're inside the gardens, keep a look out for red squirrels, which are often spotted here in the trees or darting along the ground between. The house entrance is obvious on the left, but today we're going to keep straight on.
The first part of the garden is formal, with a sundial on a lawn commanding a fine view of the lake across to Loughrigg Fell. Keep going and you reach a gated kitchen garden area with very tall fences (to protect against deer). The particular contents here vary with the season, but it's always worth wandering up and down the paths.
Observation platform A steep part of the track The tunnel<
Observation platform A steep part of the track The tunnel
The gate on the other side leads out into the wilder part of the grounds. Be warned - from here on the track is considerably steeper, and is not wheelchair accessible. If you persevere, you find yourself climbing amongst woodland, catching glimpses of the lake and surrounding hills. While you're going through the woods, take a moment to look around - this is probably how most of the Lake District looked, quite a long way up the slopes, until sheep farming became common and the flocks transformed the appearance of the land.

There are all kinds of hidden treasures in amongst these particular woods, including little seasonal streams, a children's playground and a lookout platform. At the very top of the rise there is a gate out onto the flanks of Silver Howe, if you feel like working your way back to the village by this indirect route. But if you carry on inside the perimeter dry stone wall, you drop down to another curiosity of Allan Bank - a little tunnel which brings you back again to the main house.
Whatever William Wordsworth thought while he was a tenant in this property, these days it's a good place for a visit. When you're done, there are plenty of places in Grasmere for a snack as you head back to Lake View Country House!
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