We love Allan Bank! As a family, we have been visiting Allan Bank since our children were tiny, and we must have made 7 or 8 strips since they were born. Covid out a stop to our visits, and somehow we hadn’t been back since. We decided to pay it a visit, here’s what we thought.
Where is Allan Bank?
Allan Bank is a beautiful house on the outskirts of Grasmere. Raised up on the hillside, it has amazing views across Grasmere Village and lake. William Wordsworth once lived here, and enjoyed the gardens and their surrounding views.
How to get to Allan Bank
Driving to Allan Bank
For a visit to Allan Bank, you need to park in Grasmere itself. It is then a walk through Grasmere from the car park to the path up to Allan Bank itself.
For parking, there are two main car parks in Grasmere, both pay and display. Stock Lane car park is the closest to Allan Bank. Red Bank Road car park is further away and gives you a walk through the village. We choose Stock Lane now that our kids are slightly older and can walk further, and it gives us the chance to pop in a couple of shops in Grasmere.
Another parking option is Grasmere Primary School, which allows parking on the weekends and in school holidays. You will see the signs as you drive through the village if this is available.
Getting the bus to Grasmere
The Stagecoach 555 bus from Lancaster to Keswick stops at Grasmere.
Walk to Allan Bank from Grasmere
Walk through the centre of Grasmere village until you get to The Inn at Grasmere. There is a small road leading up from the right hand side. Follow this; it will pass some lovely houses and then climbs the hill towards Allan Bank. This is the steepest bit!
As you approach the building at the top of the drive, you will see a little summerhouse. This is where you pay/show your National Trust card.
Then its on to the house, which has a super laid back and welcoming vibe. A couple of National Trust staff are always milling around to help with directions and to give information if you need it.
The house itself is a lovely place to hang out and explore. On the right as you go in is the kitchen, where you can help yourself to hot drinks and fruit squash. Through there is a dining room, with bookshelves to browse and an honesty box in case you want to buy any of them.
There’s even a piano in the corner if you fancy a play – I’m sure the other visitors LOVED my kids’ renditions this morning!
Then, around the house there are various other rooms where you are welcome to spend time and relax. Downstairs we enjoyed a study, a VERY comfortable lounge with a real fire, and an art room (more on that later).
Upstairs there is a (slightly random) bedroom, and another room for chilling/eating/drinking/playing. We didn’t find it too busy in February half term, and we were always able to find a space for us all.
Dotted around the house in the various rooms you’ll find all sorts of games; chess, draughts, and toddler toys to keep everyone busy for a while. We even found a 3D wall with a supply of glasses to make us feel like we were on the side of a mountain which was fun! (Unfortunately my photography skills couldn’t capture the 3D effect.)
It is impossible to miss the art at Allan Bank. The installations tend to change every couple of years, showcasing different artists.
Right now in the main hall way is a mural stretching the height of the building. It’s called A Letter to the Earth from Beatrix, created by Hidiyuki Sobue. It is bold, and eye catching and we spent a good while just taking it all in.
If you fancy making your own art, a room with a view right across Grasmere lake makes the perfect spot. Painting supplies are available, and usually some crafting activity too. We made woolly sheep this time!
The Garden at Allan Bank
The gardens at Allan Bank are just gorgeous – we have spent so much time there over the years. To begin with, the views (have I mentioned the views?!) are INCREDIBLE. There are loads of spots to sit and picnic, just taking in the views while the children play.
In the art room you can pick up a bug explorer backpack for the kids to spend time investigating everything they can find outside. This is new this year and I saw a few being taken out and enjoyed by some younger children, it looked like great fun.
In the gardens, if you go through the gate into the woodland, you’ll find a fab woodland trail with loads to discover. Try to spot the red squirrels flying high in the branches – we were lucky enough to spot them just once.
The woodland trail leads through the gardens with amazing lake and mountain views. There are secret hideaways with plenty of opportunity for play. And a newly renovated billiard room in the garden that dates back to the 1830s.
But in my experience the kids aren’t usually that interested in the history of the garden buildings! Or even the history of the building in general! All you really need to know is that the house and gardens are an awesome place to play that can keep kids busy for a few hours. You should definitely pay it a visit!