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Things to do at Allan Bank and Grasmere

Two people walking on a footpath with a dog
Visitors walking on the path through the pleasure grounds around the historic villa at Allan Bank and Grasmere, Cumbria | © National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

Once home to William Wordsworth and National Trust founder Hardwicke Rawnsley, Allan Bank has a rich history but it isn’t a traditional National Trust property. This historic villa combines a small, informal art gallery with a giant indoor mural space - a place for artists to explore nature. Surrounded by Romantic 19th century wooded pleasure grounds with stunning views over Grasmere, Allan Bank offers a rare chance to encounter red squirrels, have a picnic or relax in a comfy armchair.

Spring in the garden at Allan Bank

This is the best time of year to find a quiet spot in the woodland grounds at Allan Bank and tune into the gentle reawakening of nature as the landscape bursts back to life after winter. The birds are in full song and the red squirrels are at their busiest around the feeders. By April you can see the daffodils blooming on the lawn, swiftly followed in May by bluebells and meadow flowers bringing their rainbow of colour.

A wander through the historic grounds will reveal views of the rolling countryside around the house, where the likes of Wordsworth, Coleridge and DeQuincy once found inspiration.

Woman sat on the ground in a woodland area sketching
Eleanor sketching amongst Alpine plants at Hohwacht, Germany. Photo taken by Hardwicke Rawnsley. | © © Hardwicke Rawnsley image courtesy of Cumbria Archives

Flower time in the Oberland: The holiday watercolours of Eleanor Rawnsley

Exhibited for the first time, this display of watercolours and photographs takes you on a journey into the the personal lives of the Rawnsleys who lived at Allan Bank. Discover a snapshot of genteel tourism in the mountain resorts of the Alps and the Dolomites.

Woodland walk

Allan Bank’s woodland walk dates back to Wordsworth’s time at the house. The walk follows an historic rugged path and forms a circuit that takes about 45 minutes. Look out for secret hideaways and historic features such as the Victorian viewing tunnel as you wander. You might spot some fascinating fungi along the way – pick up a fungi spotter guide from a member of staff if you want to know more about the different species.

Perfect picnic spots

There aren’t any food outlets at Allan Bank, but we welcome picnics both outdoors and also in the house, where you can help yourself to free hot drinks. Bring something along with you or pick something up from one of the many cafés and shops in the village on your way to Allan Bank.

Spot a red squirrel

The garden and woodland pleasure ground is a great place to observe the comings and goings of nature. A visit to Allan Bank offers the rare chance to catch a glimpse of native red squirrels busily foraging for seeds, nuts or fungi to eat. Working in partnership with Grasmere Red Squirrel Group, the estate is a safe haven for these charming and charismatic little creatures. Borrow a pair of binoculars to take on your walk or settle down by the window in the study where you may see them scampering across the lawn.

Relax and unwind

Allan Bank is a place to while away a few hours whilst enjoying the magnificent views unfolding from the windows. Hot drinks are available for you to help yourself to after a wander through the grounds. Allan Bank is full of quirky touches reflecting the history of its former residents and its role in the conservation movement. Have a lie down in Coleridge’s bedroom, play a boardgame, read one of the many books or look at the restored stained glass windows in the Billiard Room.

The Billiard Room

In 2022, restoration of the Billiard Room was completed to include conservation and re-installation of the original stained-glass windows. The picturesque pavilion, built in 1836, has undergone significant work to its electrics, plaster, masonry and joinery to turn this back into a usable space for visitors with funding from the Department of Culture and Media. It is now our welcome buidling.

The art room

If you're feeling inspired by your visit then head into our self-led creative space to have a go at designing your own artwork. Coloured pencils, paper and seasonal creative activities are available free of charge. Watercolour kits are available to purchase and you are welcome to bring your own supplies. The team love to see any creations or photos from your visit, share them on Facebook or Instagram and tag @NTLakeDistrict.

Walking around Grasmere

From lakeshore strolls to fell-top expeditions, when it comes to walking you’re spoilt for choice at Allan Bank and Grasmere. Click here for some popular walks to get you started.

Children looking out at the autumn view from Allan Bank in Grasmere

Discover more at Allan Bank and Grasmere

Find out when Allan Bank and Grasmere is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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