The intention was to follow Ed’s Route. Ed is a friend that outlined a beautiful route through the mountains near Grasmere. He warned that it was curvy, single-lane and steep but well-worth the drive.
My friend Maria and I had visited Long Meg stone circle that morning and asked the SAT NAV system in the car to choose a route to Grasmere so we could then follow Ed’s Route he outlined on the atlas.
It had snowed earlier and the route the NAV system took us on was over mountains. The higher we climbed the more snow we found but luckily the roadway had been salted and was clear. But as I drove I knew Ed’s Route–the single-lane route up steep, winding roads–was not a good idea. The probability they had been salted was low. So I pulled over and reprogrammed the SAT NAV system to go to Millam, a town near another stone circle we wanted to visit.
I should have heeded the sign: Do not follow SAT NAV but she kept telling us to turn left after we had passed through the town center of Grasmere. Who wants to argue with an electronic voice? Up, up, up and narrow for even a small car…and oh, yes…let’s not forget the curves and moss-covered rock walls. The darling system decided to take us on Ed’s Route after all. Even when we knew it, there was no place to turn around for a very long time.
About the time I expected to find ice and snow on the pavement, a driveway appeared and I carefully turned around and headed down. Oddly enough Audi drivers don’t seem to notice how steep and curvy and narrow the roads are in the U.K. But that’s another story.
After making it to the regular narrow road, I needed to park the car and walk. I pulled into a parking lot at a cafe and realized we had stumbled into William Wordsworth’s home. But oddly, it felt as if I had come home from a very long journey, not just the one up Red Bank’s road.
I just wanted to go sit upstairs, look out of the beautiful glass window at the snow-capped mountains and write. Somewhere in my memories I remember a most pleasant experience of finding peace while gazing out of a window just like the one at Dove Cottage.
We visited the gift shop and I spoke with the guy there and as he told me of Wordsworth’s time there, my heart opened and tears came. What the heck? I was dabbing tears from my eyes in a gift shop just hearing about his writing at Dove Cottage. It was more than sharing the same birthday as William but I’m not really sure what.
A stroll through town and I discovered a cemetery filled with yew trees and ancient markers. I stepped into the peaceful garden while Maria chatted with someone and when I popped back out, she was gone. I wandered around after texting her to let her know where I was. The energy of the place was peaceful and deeply nurturing. It teemed with birds and as I left a jackdaw lit within a few feet of me and allowed me to use my cell phone to capture a photo. They are said to be Merlin’s magical companions. There was magic in Grasmere, no doubt.
Wordsworth was my favorite Romantic poet throughout high school and college. His love of nature was what captured my heart. He and Samuel Taylor Coleridge hiked the mountains of the Lake District and along with Beatrix Potter birthed literature that remains some of the best ever written.
At some point in this life I wish to return to live near Grasmere for a time. Six months, a year and perhaps I could find inspiration that would allow future-classic writing, painting and photography to find a channel of expression through me.
Years ago when I visited the moors of Devon in the national park there, my bones vibrated with the land. I had never felt that kind of physical connection to a place before. In the Lake District it went beyond a physical connection to the spiritual realm of heart and mind. It was home to me, where my spiritual roots are deeply anchored.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er values and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.