Last October we made the decision to join the National Trust as members and I can’t quite understand why we didn’t do it sooner! We have had the most amazing days out since, saving ourselves an absolute fortune in the process, and visited so many amazing sites on our travels. During our stay in Windermere last month we were excited to try some new National Trust sites and had heard wonderful things about Allan Bank in Grasmere.
Allan Bank is a large house which William Wordsworth lived in for two years back in 1808, now owned by the National Trust and open to members of the public. Perched on a rocky hillside above Grasmere village, the house has undergone an extensive restoration project and honestly, from the moment we stepped inside I have never felt quite so welcome in a home so grand.
Allan Bank has been redesigned to accommodate everyone, even young children with poor attention spans and hands that like to touch everything! We were greeted by a member of staff who told us to make ourselves at home, help ourselves to whatever we needed, and most of all just to have fun! On discovering the painting room the children wasted no time setting to work!
On a beautiful sunny day Allan Bank was very quiet with only a handful of visitors wandering around outside although we were told by a member of staff the on rainy days it’s a very different story! When the children had finished their paintings we were able to hang them up on the wall to dry, ready to collect when it was time to leave.
In the next room we discovered a playroom bursting with toys, from a big wooden rocking horse, a grand dolls house furnished from top to bottom, tea sets, building blocks, and shelf after shelf of books. You can just imagine the children’s reactions!!
The girls were delighted to discover a dressing up rail with a whole host of outfits, hats, and accessories. I couldn’t believe how much thought and effort had been put into creating such a lovely room for the children and it took a lot of persuading to coax the children back out of there an hour later!
Upstairs we discovered another craft room with all of the supplies to make Easter cards and little pom pom chicks, as well as lots of beautiful rooms to sit in and enjoy the views. Whilst Allan Bank is very much a historical property it doesn’t feel that way at all, and even the presentation of the historical element was done in such a fun and engaging way that it really appealed to the children far more than a standard stately home.
I also love how the house has been renovated in such a way that it could be from any era and is simply a bank canvas, designed to allow you to use your imagination to fill in the gaps. Never once did I feel that I had to tell the children to be quiet, or not to touch, or to slow down, and it made such a refreshing change to just enjoy exploring without being on pins the whole time!
One of the loveliest things about Allan Bank is the help yourself cafe area where we found tea, coffee, squash, and the most amazing home made biscuits, with a trust box for your donations on the counter. We were told to feel free to load up a tray with whatever we needed and take it anywhere we liked within the house to sit and enjoy. Nothing is off limits when it comes to Allan Bank and it was unlike anything we had experienced before on our days out with the National Trust.
Keen to explore outside we were given a map and directed towards a round circuit walk which would take us up to the highest point to really appreciate the view. The grounds of Allan Bank are stunning and as we made our way up the hill you could already see for miles around.
The children loved the little secret passage way though the hilltop, something which appears so magical in their eyes, and as a parent I am always grateful for these little features which really keep the children entertained on longer walks.
There are lots of steps as you go up towards the top so definitely not suitable for those with prams but we were informed there are shorter routes on one level for those wishing to explore outdoors with babies or mobility problems.
The view from the very top was just beautiful and as we found ourselves a little seat it was nice to just enjoy the moment and take it all in. Grasmere is absolutely stunning and although it isn’t somewhere we have been before, we are already making plans to return!
On the way back down the path takes you through the woods which the children loved, especially with their “walking sticks” which they were ridiculously excited about. What is it with kids and sticks?
At every corner there is a different view, all as equally breathtaking, and if you love to take photographs like we do, the opportunities are endless! There is honestly nothing I love more than days like this, just enjoying the sunshine, exploring the outdoors, and listening to the children chattering away, playing games, and asking a million questions. Everything just feels so much better when the sun shines!
As we approached the house the children could think of just one thing…that play room!! It’s funny because despite having a play room of our own, just bursting with every toy under the sun, nothing is ever quite as exciting as other peoples toys!
Whilst the children made full use of the play room I made the most of every moment of peace and quiet! At the back of the house there are a number of deck chairs over looking the most picturesque view and until the children came charging out and jumped on me, I almost nodded off for a moment.
We had the loveliest time at Allan Bank and will absolutely be returning in the future. I can’t recommend it enough to anyone visiting the area, particularly on a rainy day if you’re looking for indoor activities, or a sunny day if you prefer to make the most of the outdoors. It is hands down the children’s favourite National Trust site so far and I think it’s going to take some tough competition to beat!!
Read what we got up to on day one here.