Born today (28 July) in 1866 much-loved children’s author, illustrator, and conservationist, Beatrix Potter based many of her delightful tales on locations around Derwentwater. Join us on guided walks in the area and discover the real-life landscapes which inspired Beatrix for yourself.
Thanks to guided walk leader Roy Ellis for providing the information on Beatrix for this blog post.
In 1885 Beatrix spent the summer with her parents at Lingholm, a large house on the western shore of Derwentwater. Beatrix was then 19 years old. They enjoyed it so much that they returned for the next five summers.
Beatrix rowed on the lake, visited the islands and climbed Catbells. During those summers she made many sketches of the landscape around Derwentwater. In 1902 the family returned to Derwentwater but stayed in another house, Fawe Park which is further along the shore.
While staying in the area, Beatrix became friends with Canon Rawnsley who was the Vicar at Crosthwaite in Keswick. He was also a great campaigner on behalf of the Lake District and in 1895 he became one of the three founding members of the National Trust. Rawnsley encouraged Beatrix to write and illustrate her own children’s books.
In October 1902 Beatrix published her first book, ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ and the following year came ‘The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin’. These were followed by ‘The Tale of Benjamin Bunny’ and ‘The Tale of Mrs Tiggywinkle’. These books are all set around Derwentwater and you can recognise the area from her drawings.
In ‘The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin’ the squirrels build rafts and sail to ‘Owl Island’. This is clearly St Herbert’s Island on Derwentwater as seen from Lingholm. ‘The Tale of Benjamin Bunny’ is set in the grounds of Fawe Park and Mr McGregor’s garden is modelled on the garden there. Mrs Tiggywinkle lives on the side of Catbells overlooking the Newlands valley and the real village of Little Town mentioned in the book.
Lingholm and Fawe Park can clearly be seen across the lake from our Watendlath, Walla Crag, Castlerigg Stone Circle and Latrigg walks and our Borrowdale Ramble goes past Lingholm and Fawe Park, right behind the wall of Mr McGregor’s garden!
Volunteer Led Activity Coordinator
Lake District National Park