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If you’re looking for something amazing to do in the adorable village of Grasmere, then I would highly recommend you add the Allan Bank to your list.
It’s now opened up to the public for the first time in 200 years, so you should definitely grab this opportunity with both hands!
Most famously this was home to William Wordsworth and his family, Samuel Taylor Coleridge the Mountaineer and Hardwicke Rawnsley a founding member of the National Trust.
This historic home is now a beautiful National Trust property that has some of the most breathtaking views of the Lake District National Park. Plus, there are lots of hands-on activities to get up to inside.
Here are some amazing reasons to visit the Allan Bank in Grasmere!
Heads up: my trip to the Lake District was sponsored by Go Lakes. although I was a guest, all opinions and photos are my own.
1. It was the historic home of famous figures like William Wordsworth
I absolutely love historic homes with an amazing story and the Allan Bank history is certainly that!
William Wordsworth was famous for being very vocal when new properties were built in the Lake District and he HATED the Allan Bank when it was first built in Grasmere.
He initially called it an ‘eyesore’ on the landscape…until he ended up living here!
After he married Mary, in 1808 he moved to the Allan Bank with her and his children Dora, John, and Thomas. During this time, Mary’s sister Sara Hutchinson also joined them.
As William Wordsworth was a big player in the literary world, he had some of his friends Thomas de Quincy and Samuel Taylor Coleridge come and join him.
But, it certainly wasn’t happy families and Wordsworth fought Coleridge often over his opioid addiction and overstaying his welcome.
Eventually, the terrible chimney smoke filling the house and the constant fallings out with his landlord forced them to move out of the home two years later.
Some years on, Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley bought the property in 1915 and retired to Grasmere in 1917. He lived here until he died in 1920.
In 2011, the Allan Bank suffered a huge fire almost destroying the house entirely. So, the National Trust decided to renovate the house and open it up to the public for the first time in 200 years.
Most of the collection was destroyed in the fire, but the National Trust has worked hard to make this a special place to enjoy.
2. You can take in the incredible postcard views around the house
As I was approaching the house in Grasmere and when I reached the front door, I couldn’t believe the views all around me.
It was like being able to walk through a portrait hanging in a gallery!
The emerald rolling hills full of colourful trees, crystal clear lakes, and sheep grazing in the fields – It’s a romanticist’s dream location.
So, no wonder Wordsworth and so many other artists were so inspired here and still are today.
As the Allan Bank is high up on the hill, you’re surrounded by so many fabulous views and there are lots of places to enjoy them. Whether through a nook inside the house or the benches outside.
Allan Bank Walks
While you’re here at the Allan Bank, you’re free to explore the pleasure grounds of the house.
You may notice the building on site which looks almost like a chapel! This was actually an old billiards room.
Plus, there is a short and easy loop around the Allan Bank gardens with a small forest trail set up for children with woodland animal sculptures.
3. There are red squirrels to be spotted on the Allan Bank grounds
Although to the rest of the world, it seems we see red squirrels all the time. It’s actually quite rare and special to see them here in the UK.
The population is estimated to be 140,000 red squirrels in England, compared to 2 million grey squirrels!
Unfortunately, grey squirrels carry a virus called squirrelpox virus and it has pretty much wiped them out. Although the grey squirrels are not affected by it, it is fatal to the red squirrels.
However, here at Allan Bank, they have their own indigenous population of red squirrels in the area and the guys at National Trust feed them daily.
Of course, spotting wildlife is never a guarantee but you have a good chance of seeing one on the grounds of the Allan Bank!
They have some comfy seats and binoculars in William Wordsworth’s old office so you can spy on them.
I was honestly blown away as I don’t think I have seen a red squirrel in the flesh. So it was really special for me.
4. There are no great collections but some incredible artwork to see on the walls
The thing that most caught my eye about the Allan Bank was the beautiful paintings that have been painted on the renovated walls here.
As the Allan Bank suffered a great fire, the original paint and wallpaper were completely destroyed.
But, they have tried to salvage what they could. To repurpose the walls and to add some life into the house, a local artist in Grasmere called Sarah Jackman, painted some incredible portraits of the famous residents.
So, on the stairs, you have William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
By the reception, you have Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley and in the living room, you have a profile silhouette of Mary Wordsworth.
Apparently, before these paintings were here there were a few complaints about the walls.
But, I think these have breathed some life into the Allan Bank and are a fantastic addition. Plus, they are a great Instagram photo opportunity.
5. You get a FREE cup of coffee (or tea) and biscuits is included in entry
Something that I have never experienced at a National Trust property before is being given a FREE cup of coffee and biscuits. But, I was pleased to see this was part of their ethos at the Allan Bank.
Every person that comes into the home can make their own cup of tea or coffee in the kitchens to feel at home and find a place inside the house to get cosy.
Every room has comfy seating, tables with board games, arts and craft room for children created with the help of Heaton Cooper studios, a toy room, and even a study to relax in.
Many people choose to spend hours here or even a whole day just to relax and be a resident and with views like this, why wouldn’t you?!
It was such a shame I was in a rush on my visit or I would have spent some time relaxing here.
But, I got my cuppa and shortbread to take away and enjoyed it outside for a little while.
6. They have a mountaineering library to browse
As Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley were both avid mountaineers, it seems appropriate that the National Trust has built a fresh mountaineering library inside the Allan Bank.
Coleridge had an extensive climbing experience of hills and mountains in the area and wrote poems and books about it too.
It’s named The Chorley Hopkinson library as the Hopkinson and Chorley families kindly donated their collection of over 700 items to the shelves here including books, magazines, and guidebooks. Lord Chorley was a former chairman of the National Trust.
Inside you can find an amazing 3D painting on the walls of one of the local peaks. Plus, there have been exhibitions and dedications to Sir Chris Bonington, one of the greatest mountaineers of our time.
7. You can call Allan Bank home for the day
Unlike other National Trust properties, the Allan Bank is far from a historic relic where you can only look at antiques from the sidelines.
It’s a home that welcomes you with open arms and a place where you can sit down and feel at home.
You can cosy up on one of their sofas with a hot drink, keep the kids distracted with arts and crafts, play board games or sit down with a good book.
There are countless options for you here at the Allan Bank! Although my visit was quite brief, I know I will be back as it was such a cool place to visit and the views were spectacular.
Don’t miss a visit while you’re here in Grasmere and the Lake District.
Opening times for the Allan Bank and ticket prices
The Allan Bank is open seven days a week, from 10.30 am – 5 pm but in the winter months it’s reduced hours and open from 10.30 am – 4 pm.
There is only one ticket option available here to access the house and the grounds. Adult tickets are £7.90 children are £4.25 and a family ticket is family £18.25.
There is an option of Gift Aid at an extra 10% on top of your ticket. Dogs are also welcome. Access is FREE to all members of the National Trust.
How to travel to the Allan Bank in Grasmere
Allan Bank is located in the idyllic village of Grasmere in the Lake District so it is easy to access once you’ve arrived here.
As parking is limited, it is advised to use one of the local pay and display car parks in the village itself.
From here, you can access the house on foot. Allan Bank is an easy 10-minute walk from the Inn at Grasmere, you’ll see signs on the road leading you through to the house.
You’ll be walking up an easy hill towards the property and there are benches on the way if you need to rest or simply want to enjoy the views.
Parking at the Allan Bank
There is a limited number of blue badge spaces at the Allan Bank. Otherwise, no vehicles can park up here and it’s a one-way track road!
You can easily park at the two main car parks in Grasmere. These are the Red Bank Road Car Park (closest) behind the Grasmere Garden Village and the Broadgate Meadow Car Park on the lane leading into the village.
Both car parks have the same prices and are chargeable from 9 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week and Bank Holidays.
From here, it’s a short walk to the Allan Bank.
What to do after the Allan Bank in Grasmere
After you have explored the Allan Bank and finished off your cup of tea or coffee. There is plenty to do around the area.
Grasmere was called “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found” by William Wordsworth and it has been preserved beautifully over the years.
It’s like a village stuck in time, and you’ll feel transported to a world of cottages, babbling brooks, ancient churches, and yummy cafés and shops too!
Explore Grasmere village
If you want to follow in the footsteps of William Wordsworth, I would recommend heading over to Dove Cottage next.
This was the first property that he owned here in Town End with his sister Dorothy before he moved to the Allan Bank.
The historic St Oswald’s Church is worth a visit. It was named after the King Oswald of Northumbria and has beautiful stained glass windows and exposed beams inside.
On the church grounds, you can visit the Wordsworth Memorial Gardens with a bed of daffodils. Also, his grave and those of his family are in the churchyard.
Grasmere is famous for its amazing cafés like Hardy’s and the Windermere Tea Gardens.
Plus, there are some quirky and historic shops like Barney’s Newsbox with a labyrinth of jigsaws to buy and Sam Read’s newsagents which have been here since 1877.
Heaton Cooper Studios helped design some of the Allan Bank including the art room and has a huge name around here.
So, pop in for a coffee, check out the artwork, or stock up on art supplies.
Try Grasmere Gingerbread
Did you know that Grasmere is the only place in the world where you can buy Grasmere Gingerbread?
Yep, Sarah Nelson created it from her secret recipe in 1854 and it has been sold in Church Cottage, by St Oswald’s Churchyard, ever since.
On my visit, I went ‘behind the green door’ to see how it’s prepared every day for so many people.
Of course, I couldn’t see how it’s made as it’s a top-secret recipe!
After trying it for myself, I am absolutely obsessed and cannot stop eating it. It’s a mix between a cake and a biscuit with a crumbly casing and chewy centre.
You have to stop by and try the famous gingerbread everyone raves about.
Related post – the secrets of Grasmere Gingerbread!
Walk to Rydal Water and Ambleside
You’re also on the gateway of many amazing walks to White Moss Woodlands, Rydal Water, and even Ambleside.
There are so many fabulous, easy and scenic routes. It’s almost impossible to choose!
An easy walk that I loved was a visit to the famous man-made Rydal Cave that was part of Loughrigg Quarry.
It’s twenty minutes from White Moss car park or you can walk the whole way from Grasmere.
After that, you can stop by Rydal village which is home to Rydal Mount, another Wordsworth property. He lived here until his death in 1850.
Along the way, you can visit the St Mary’s Church, be in amongst a blanket of daffodils in Dora’s field, or pop over to Rydal Hall. You can check out the spectacular Rydal Hall Waterfall from “The Grot”.
Ambleside is a lovely picturesque town in the Lake District. Here, you can see the famous icon the Bridge House which is a 17th century home built on a bridge to avoid Land Tax.
Or, visit the incredible Stock Ghyll Waterfalls that cascade from a height of 70 feet.
Where to stay in Grasmere
Grasmere is the perfect base to spend a few days in the Lake District as it’s peaceful and as pretty as a postcard.
The Wordsworth Hotel and Spa is a fantastic luxury property, that has a hotel, fine dining restaurant, and a spa!
It was originally built for the Earl of Cadagon as his hunting lodge in 1850 but now you can check-in for the night in their boutique rooms.
Their signature AA rosette restaurant is famed for their exquisite meals and I would recommend their four-course dinner with canapés.
Also, whatever the weather is doing outside, they have a heated pool, jacuzzi, steam room, and sauna to enjoy. Plus, some holistic spa packages too!