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The Famous Faces of the Lake District National Park

The Lake District has inspired some of Britain’s best literary greats, as generations continue to enjoy poems and stories inspired by the Lake District. What better way to take in the Lake District than by reconnecting with its literary past?

Follow in the footsteps of the likes of William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter, and witness the Lakes through the eyes of some of Britain’s best-loved literary figures. You'll be sure to be whisked away to picturesque villages and rolling countryside that has little changed since the 19th century.

Immerse yourself in the places that these literary figures so adored, and discover the strong connection that still exists today.

Beatrix Potter

Hawkshead and Far Sawrey are classed as ‘Potter Territory’, as it is here that Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top in 1905 from the proceedings of her first book 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit'. 

However, if you take a Beatrix Potter Trail of Potter’s connection with the Lake District, you'll discover that her relationship with the Lakes started much earlier than this. 

Beatrix spent much of her childhood on holiday with here family, here in the Lake District. And it was these family holidays where the inspiration came for her famous Peter Rabbit book collection. Since their first family holiday in the Lake District in 1882, the Potter family holidayed in an around Derwentwater and in various manor houses on Windermere, including Lindeth Howe, Brockhole and Wray Castle.

Upon returning to her home in London, Potter wrote letters to family friends featuring beautifully hand-illustrated stories inspired by the Lake District wildlife, which she had a passionate interest in. These have since gone on to become several hit films and a TV series.

Although it has been over 150 years since readers first fell in love with the beautiful Peter Rabbit stories, this collection of short children’s tales have been one of the most enduring of all-time, and her work continues to appeal across the generations. Today you can experience the Lake District through The World of Peter Rabbit, discovering the pleasure of mischief, curiosity and adventure along the way. 

Visit Lingholm Estate on Derwentwater to see the inspiration for Mr McGregor’s famous walled vegetable garden and walk down to the shore of Derwentwater, where Squirrel Nutkin and his ‘tails with sails’ were created in Potter’s mind's-eye.

There’s also the new Beatrix Potter Trail at Brockhole, Windermere, where the young Miss Potter spent much time with her cousins at her former home Hill Top. This is where Miss Potter drew many of her most famous illustrations that we know and love today. 

Browse our cottages in Hawkshead and Coniston.

William Wordsworth

The world-famous poet, William Wordsworth is the Lake District’s most famous local resident. Born just outside the Lakes, in Cockermouth, William Wordsworth went to school in Hawkshead, and after attending Cambridge University returned to live and work in Grasmere and Rydal.

William Wordsworth is best known as one of the leading founders of a poetic movement called English Romanticism, in which the language of the everyday man was put above more formal prose and nature was championed.

Much of Wordsworth’s most famous work was influenced by the mountains, rivers and lakes around him, which he adored. The most famous poem, fondly known as ‘Daffodils’, has become synonymous with the Lake District and was inspired by the April daffodils ‘dancing’ at Glencoyne Bay on Ullswater which are as beautiful today as they were two hundred years ago.

Wordsworth is also known as being one of the fathers of tourism in the Lake District, with his written love of his local landscape,

including his ‘Guide through the District of the Lakes’ published in 1820. A tour of the life of William Wordsworth must include a trip to his former homes in Grasmere and Rydal, where he wrote his most famous work, as well as passing the Ann Tyson cottage in Hawkshead to see his name etched in a desk in Hawkshead Grammar school.

Browse our cottages in Hawkshead and Coniston.

Alfred Wainwright

For over 50 years the hand-illustrated walking guides singed by the enigma AW, as Alfred Wainwright signed his books, have been bestsellers. Whilst Wainwright wrote over 50 walking books in his lifetime, it is his first ever, a series of Lake District walking guides, that propelled his name, if not his face, to fame.

Open any one of these palm-sized walking books and the illustrations of viewpoints captured by hand alongside handwritten notes, and you fall into a private journal of Lake District wanderings that you just can’t put down.

In the 7-part series, The Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, walks that are well-known today are first captured by Wainwright in such detail, including maps with contours as well as humours recommends and advice. The books are devoured as you sit by your fireside, just as much as when you hold then in front of you as you follow one of his routes, such as his first ever up Orrest Head in Windermere.

He recorded 214 fell walks and today, ‘Wainwright bagging’ has become a popular challenge.

Wainwright was an everyday walker and climber and in his books he highlights family walks, his best loved and a good fell but not in the top 6. Reconnect with the forerunner of journal prose, and realise that it is all in the detail.

Browse our cottages in Hawkshead and Coniston.

John Ruskin

Just outside Keswick, in the year of 1824 a five year old boy on holiday from London looked out over Derwentwater.

This trip to the Lake District made a lasting impression: ‘the first thing I remember as an event in life was being taken by my nurse to the brow of Friar’s Crag on Derwentwater’, reads a memorial at the wooded view point that is a must when immersing yourself in all that this famous Victorian art critic loved about the Lakes. 

A visit to Brantwood House, overlooking Coniston Water, gives a fascinating look into the world of this extraordinary artist, writer and social thinker. Just over the water is the John Ruskin Museum, a celebration of everything to do with Coniston, from the famous Bluebird boat to the copper mines.

The museum also houses a cabinet of curiosities from Ruskin’s collection and in fact was established by Ruskin’s secretary, W.G. Collingwood, also an artist.

Browse our cottages in Hawkshead and Coniston.

For us here at Heart of the Lakes, exploring in the Lake District is the perfect way to reconnect with Litracy. And if you're wanting to explore all of the 7 wonders of the Lake District, and find out how you can reconnect with Mountains, Communities, Literacy and a whole lot more, then click here to read more >>>   7 Wonders of the Lake District Troutbeck.