On this walk in Wordsworth coun­try, au­tumn’s hues ri­val those of New Eng­land, says Si­mon Wha­ley

Countryfile Magazine - - Great Days Out -

On 23 Oc­to­ber 1802, Dorothy Wordsworth wrote in her jour­nal: “A breath­less, grey day that leaves the golden woods of au­tumn quiet in their tran­quil­lity, stately and beau­ti­ful in their de­cay­ing. The lake is a per­fect mir­ror.”

This six-mile cir­cu­lar tour around Gras­mere and Ry­dal Wa­ter il­lus­trates per­fectly how her de­scrip­tion of the au­tum­nal land­scape is just as evoca­tive to­day as it was when she wrote it in her jour­nal 215 years ago.

The Cof­fin Trail runs be­low Nab Scar, not far from Ry­dal Mount house (once home to Dorothy and her brother Wil­liam – and still in the Wordsworth fam­ily). This his­toric route to Gras­mere’s St Oswald’s Church is the per­fect al­ti­tude from which to ab­sorb Ry­dal Wa­ter’s re­flec­tive au­tum­nal views. Look long enough and not only are the sea­son’s tra­di­tional red, or­ange, yel­low and brown tones vis­i­ble, but there’s also a wider pal­ette of pur­ples, sil­vers, greens and whites.


Fur­ther along, White Moss Com­mon is ideal for glanc­ing back at Nab Scar’s lower slopes, lined with larches of lus­cious lemon hues.

The Cof­fin Trail drops past an­other fas­ci­nat­ing Wordswor­thian prop­erty, Dove Cot­tage, be­fore head­ing into the main vil­lage. With fewer tourists visit­ing in the au­tumn sea­son, it’s the per­fect time to ex­plore the Wordsworth fam­ily graves in the church­yard.

The re­turn cir­cuit around the wa­ter of Gras­mere be­gins at Red Bank, just op­po­site St Oswalds. For pic­turesque panora­mas across the lake to­wards Loughrigg, take a brief di­ver­sion to Al­lan Bank, a third Wordswor­thian dwelling.

About halfway along the lake, a foot­path drops to the wa­ter’s edge, where mighty oaks dis­play their golden crowns. The re­flec­tions of the wooded slopes of Lord Cragg and Baner­igg cre­ate an ar­bo­real kalei­do­scope on Gras­mere’s still sur­face. On blus­tery, change­able days, a host of iri­des­cent rain­bows can be seen on Dun­mail Raise to the north.


From Gras­mere’s weir, a path runs along­side the River Rothay, through trees and their fallen leaves, be­fore climb­ing to a stone wall. Turn left and marvel at Ry­dal’s se­duc­tive south­ern shores.

To com­plete the cir­cuit, cross the River Rothay near St Mary’s Church, built in 1824 on a spot se­lected by Wil­liam Wordsworth. Don’t miss Ry­dal Hall’s gar­dens, nor its ex­cel­lent Old School Room tea shop, the per­fect con­clu­sion to this au­tum­nal am­ble.

A stroll in the foot­steps of the Wordsworth fam­ily of­fers ex­quis­ite re­flec­tions of au­tumn colour in the still wa­ters of Ry­dal Wa­ter at Gras­mere in the Lake District

Si­mon Wha­ley is a pho­tog­ra­pher and writer with a pas­sion for the coun­try­side.

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