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‘The loveliest spot that man hath ever found,’ extolled William Wordsworth of this quintessential Lake District spot. Hugely fond of walks around Grasmere, the poet chose to spend most of his adult life living and rambling here. It’s easy to see why: the hiking, scenery, lakes, hills and mountains are all achingly delightful.
Experience a plethora of beautiful afternoon strolls in the village’s picturesque surroundings or, if you’re after an adventure on the high fells, there are many fantastic routes that commence here. Rydal Water and Grasmere, whilst smaller than some in the national park, are scenic gems for lakeside loops. Cherished by generations of walkers, their wooded banks, calm shores and tranquil paths are sure to enthral.Discover the more strenuous hikes around Grasmere. Modest, yet exciting hills hem in the homesteads and lakes, whilst hidden behind are ridges that ascend gently to some of the higher fells in the district.
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A change in the way people perceived mountains gradually occurred during the late 18th century. Before this time, mountainous landscapes were seen as ugly and fearful, as places to be reviled. The likes of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Burns and Scott were about to change all of that. A movement inspired by these artistic pioneers saw mountains instead thought of as sublime places of raw beauty, as places to explore and experience. The English Lake District was at the centre of this shift and, due to Wordsworth, Grasmere was at the very heart of it.
Today, walks in Grasmere are a perfect introduction to Lakeland walking, with archetypal lakeside scenery, quaint villages and green hills topped with rocky ramparts. Circular, or indeed figure-of-eight, routes around Rydal Water and Grasmere are wonderful, blending woodland, grassland and lakeside paths that all boast splendid mountain views.
To really appreciate the romantic power of this landscape, the allure that Wordsworth found so irresistible, you have to get up amongst its fells. Whilst an adventure onto the hulking Fairfield range is excellent, perhaps the best hiking trails around Grasmere explore the uniquely characterful, smaller hills that surround the village.
Looming over the village, Helm Crag is a superb objective and curiously the one peak that legendary guidebook writer Alfred Wainwright did not actually summit. This was because of the airy scramble to top of the rocky outcrop that adorns its 1,329-foot (405 m) zenith, which has also earned the fell the famous moniker ‘the Lion and the Lamb’ due to its appearance from the valley.
The centre of a hub around which several valleys splay outwards, Loughrigg Fell is an adventure much greater than its 1,099 feet (335 m) would suggest. With stunning views in all directions, ease of access, dark caves and wonderful tarns all to explore, this is one little hill that packs an almighty punch.
Hikes in Grasmere are popular. Its sublime beauty comes at a cost during peak season, earning it the nickname ‘Gras Vegas’. School holidays and weekends are when the accessible routes here are busiest, so think carefully about when to plan a visit. If a weekend in August is unavoidable, hit the trails early or late in the day.
Explore more of Cumbria: Browse the best Hikes in other regions.