19 February 2018
The Lake District’s rich literary heritage is one not to be missed but one to be sought out and explored. Both Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth have a close connection to the Lakes and Windermere especially. Whether a fan of Potter’s stories or Wordsworth’s famous poetry you’re guaranteed to learn plenty from these beautiful locations.
Beatrix Potter has become a woman and writer synonymous with the Lake District, and with a rich history of sights, we’ve picked out some of the best around Windermere for you to visit. First on the Beatrix Potter trail should be Hill Top Cottage, a quaint grade II listed building twenty-two minutes’ drive away from Langdale Chase hotel or a short trip by boat across Lake Windermere. Owned and run by the National Trust, their preservation of the first property belonging to Beatrix Potter offers visitors an incredible literary sight. Walk through the many rooms once inhabited by the author and experience the time capsule nature of them with much of the interior left as it was when she lived here.
Don’t forget the grounds of the cottage and the beautiful garden aptly named Peter Rabbit's Garden. Filled with geraniums, foxgloves, honeysuckle and a small vegetable patch, it isn’t hard to see where she got so much of her inspiration for her stories from. A little known fact is that Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top Cottage with the first royalties from her book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
Travel onwards to your next Beatrix Potter spot, which you’ll find on the west coast of Lake Windermere; The magnificent Wray Castle. One of the only castles in the National Park, its impressive mock-gothic structure provides a remarkable and commanding stature to any visitor. One of Beatrix's favourite rooms in the castle was the library. The room is now fully renovated and with its trompe l’oeil bookcase, visitors can write on the wall providing fun for all. Guided tours are also available to learn more about the castle’s history.
You’re never too far from a literary sight around Windermere, so head northeast up to the hilly landscape and find the small village of Troutbeck and Troutbeck Park Farm. Another building owned and lived in by Potter, and a place where she herded the Lake District Herdwick Sheep which can still be seen to this day. A location she left to the National Trust to safeguard from any developments, you’re guaranteed pure, untouched Lake District landscape, all thanks to Beatrix Potter.
Don’t limit yourself to just one classic author and get more out of Windermere by discovering the heritage of William Wordsworth, the once poet laureate and one of Britain’s most famous poets. Windermere has a distinctive and long-standing connection with Wordsworth, and the inspiration and setting can be seen in much of his work. Travelling the Wordsworth Trail is a way to experience the history of the man himself and explore preserved sights of literary significance while being surrounded by the unique and stunning backdrop of the Lake District.
Beginning in the village of Rydal, you’ll start by visiting Wordsworth’s house of Rydal Mount, a building dating back to the 16th century. Still owned by the Wordsworth family, it contains a brilliant selection of family possessions and portraits providing visitors with rich material to learn all about Wordsworth and his life. Surrounded by a five-acre landscaped garden that Wordsworth himself created, you can wander the grounds and appreciate the inspiration that he must have felt in such a place.
Wordsworth’s family home is in the village of Grasmere so you can make the journey there yourself from Rydal. The best route is the forty minute walk along Coffin Path offering rising views of Lake Windermere and passing Rydal Water. The best way to arrive at Grasmere!
Here you'll find Dove Cottage, the family home of Wordsworth and famed as the place of the creation of the Daffodils poem. A Wordsworth trust site and award-winning attraction, it's a vibrant literary sight to take in and explore. With guided tours available of the house, you'll learn about the history and details you'd probably not known about his life in the Lakes.
Another impressive garden awaits you due to Wordsworth’s keen interest in gardening so wander through and walk in the footsteps of the writer himself. The garden in its half wild state is how Wordsworth and his sister would have kept it making it perfect to seek out tranquil spots to sit, relax and take in the setting. An excellent viewing platform can also be found in the garden, raised up giving clear and fantastic views over the valley and the lake itself.
To end your day and the Wordsworth trail, make the trip across to the Wordsworth Museum filled with artefacts and local treasures. Don't forget to pick up a souvenir and make it a trail to remember. Grab a quick gingerbread treat for the journey back from the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop, a favourite with visitors!
If Windermere’s literary trail sounds like the perfect trip for you, Langdale Chase hotel offers you a luxurious and tranquil setting as your perfect base to explore the surrounding area of Windermere.
Whichever sights you chose, you're guaranteed historical and literary heritage, which in the words of Wordsworth himself, will leave you with “an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy” this glorious location.