Monday, June 1, 2015

Exploring England: Ambleside and Grasmere

In March, my parents came to visit us for the first time since our wedding. The Lake District was of course on our itinerary of places to see while they were in northern England.

We started the morning with the quick train ride to Windermere. From Windermere, we took the gentle walk to the lakefront in Bowness-on-Windermere. I had read about a specialty gingerbread store in Grasmere, just north of Ambleside, that I wanted to take my parents to.

There is a bus pass that you can buy that takes you up and down the southern lakes, which is a great way to see several of the Lake District villages in one day. We hopped on the bus at Bowness-on-Windermere and rode north to Ambleside for some lunch. We admired quality leather goods and hiking gear in the local stores. The Lake District is known for its hiking trails and there is no shortage of outdoor athletic attire in the village centers. Even if you're not an outdoorsy person, a wind-proof jacket with a hood is essential for day-to-day life in northern England. My insulated hooded jacket was the best purchase I've made since moving here.

My American parents are quite fond of the friendly British pubs, so we grabbed some pies and pints for lunch. They came to find out that they are a big fan of Carling beer, a very popular lager in the UK. I actually do not drink beer, so I usually go for a cider instead. Ciders are also very popular in the UK, with many local and imported selections.

Ambleside, a charming little village.
From Ambleside, we used our bus passes to go to Grasmere, possibly one of the most quaint villages in all of England. Grasmere is connected with the British poet, William Wordsworth, who spent many years living in the village and using the Lakes as inspiration for his poems. You can visit his home, Dove Cottage, as well as his gravesite in St. Oswald's Church. Grasmere has a little river that runs through the town's majority 19th Century buildings. There are plenty of cute places to get a coffee or some sweets while you pass through the Wordsworth Daffodil Garden. 

The main reason for our coming to Grasmere was to taste Sarah Nelson's Gingerbread. This gingerbread is known throughout England and was started back in 1854 in the same house where it is still made and sold today. The owners are really proud of the history of their product and the legacy of its creator, Sarah Nelson, and only sell Grasmere Gingerbread in their shop and from their website. They do not sell to any supermarkets, so the best way to taste the freshest gingerbread is to go there and get it! It really was good; very crunchy and spicy. It was different than the gingerbread men I had eaten during Christmas growing up in the US. We were glad we made the trip to Grasmere to try it! But, let's be honest, I'll travel about anywhere to try specialty sweets. (Soon to come: I recount my trip to Cartmel to try the original sticky toffee!)

Grasmere, a good place to stop when visiting the southern lakes.
Try Sarah Nelson's authentic Grasmere Gingerbread!
Feel inspired by William Wordsworth's legacy in Grasmere.
To find out more about the Lake District and Sarah Nelson's Gingerbread, follow the links:

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