Tag: U.K.

Grasmere, Ed’s Route and Dove Cottage

Grasmere, Ed’s Route and Dove Cottage

img_6817The 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.

_tsl9624After 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.

_tsl9649I 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.

_tsl9633We 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.

img_6806We ate lunch at the little cafe nearby and had a most beautiful view of the mountains. I was not inclined to leave Grasmere.

img_6825A 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.

img_6843Wordsworth 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.

img_6835At 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.

_tsl9623Years 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.

img_6828Here’s the first and last stanza from Wordsworth’s Daffodils…one of his most well-loved poems:

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.

My friend and spiritual sister Maria and I in Grasmere.


_tsl8867When I was invited to speak at a weekend gathering in the U.K. I put the question out to the Universe, Where shall I journey the week before? If I was going to make the long flight across the Atlantic, it made sense to extend the journey and connect with this most beautiful of countries. Almost immediately I saw a post on Facebook about Castlerigg and so it was this stone circle that called me to Cumbria, that called me to this pilgrimage.

_tsl8870Much of the preparation for the journey centered on researching the Lake District, where the stone circle is found. The nearest town is Keswick (pronounced kez-ick) so the cottage that stood out as the right one was only two miles from Castlerigg and outside of town, in the rural countryside.

_tsl8877Upon arrival at the ancient circle of standing stones, I was expecting to feel strong emotions and awe but I felt nothing….at first. The energy felt flat which truly surprised me. Nevertheless, I approached the circle with reverence and openness and began to connect with it through an inner prompting or voice.

_tsl8872heard to walk clockwise or sun-wise around it twice and then enter a small sanctuary area near the largest stone. I walked three times around the sanctuary and knelt at a small, flat stone. It felt as if I was laying down everything in my life, surrendering it all…letting go. Then I exited to the main stone.

_tsl8891My hands then found a ledge and rested there. I dropped into silence, into meditation and soon heard, What do you desire? “To serve the light,” I whispered. As if unsatisfied with my answer, the same question arose and I repeated the answer. After I heard it a third time I paused before answering to contemplate. “To be the light,” I replied.

img_6760You are light so it is your task to be transparent and allow the light to simply be, as you are. Be your truest self, be genuine. Remove all masks and preconceived notions about who you think you should be and simply allow the light within you to shine forth.

_tsl8902I felt gratitude for the reminder to be myself and whispered a thank you to the sacred energies of the place. Then I heard to walk three times around the inner circle.

_tsl8901I began to walk sun-wise at the edge yet found my feet taking me on a spiraling path to the exact center of the circle, as if they already knew the way. I stood in silence facing the large stone and dropped once again into meditation.

Soon a vision began to arise. Two blue snakes came crawling to me and intertwined around my forearms and became blue snake tattoos on the inside of my lower arms with their tails wrapped around my wrists.

_tsl8889I contemplated this for a while and then walked back to the main stone and exited the circle.

After the meditations, I enjoyed photographing the circle and being present with the beauty of the area. It was later that I explored the meaning of my experience.

_tsl8895It felt like another dimension was experienced at the stone circle, a place where the ancestors offered guidance and support that reached from ancient times to the present. The Druid-like vision of the snakes felt like an initiatory experience. Snakes have been used as symbology for healing for millennia, the caduceus being one that has made its way into modern medical symbology of physicians–two snakes intertwined on a central staff. In ancient Celtic art, snakes are often depicted with healers or shaman holding them. In the Celtic tradition snakes are symbols of rebirth, awakening, and renewal.

_tsl8882Perhaps the most powerful outcome of the experience within the stone circle was the resulting conversation with my spiritual sister, Maria, who was on the pilgrimage with me. As we talked that evening it felt as if my life opened up before me and I could see the path stretching out before me in a most beautiful way.

That night as I closed my eyes I saw *children gathering in bright, warm hats around stones…running and playing and laughing. The image of a man with antlers on his head came into my mind and a great, joyful chase in the woods took me into a restful night of sleep.

_tsl9003It felt as if I had participated in an ancient dialogue with the sacred world. The timeless message I received was one Buddha shared, “Make of yourself a lamp.”


Castlerigg is on a flat crown of a low hill surrounded by mountains. The stones are of local origin and the largest weighs about 16 tons. The setting of the stones corresponds to the features of the mountains around them. It is connected by a line of force between the two tallest mountains surrounding it. Two of the construction lines correspond to sun and moon positions. Because of its positioning with the sun, moon and surrounding landscape it was apparently designed as a temple. It provided an accurate solar calendar for the year and its lunar cycle tabulation helped herdsmen and farmers.  It dates back to 3000 BC. (Information from Sacred England).

Long Meg and Her Daughters Stone Circle
Long Meg and Her Daughters Stone Circle

*When we visited Long Meg and Her Daughters two days later in a field outside of Penrith, a small bus with children dressed in brightly-colored hats arrived. The young ones gathered with their teacher to learn of Long Meg’s history. It was the exact scene that arose when I first closed my eyes after the experience at Castlerigg.