A LOT of words have been written about the Lake District over the years. A heck of a lot, and rightly so.
But it’s words written IN the Lake District that are also a massive draw for many.
Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth are the two literary giants whose musings – and drawings – have been a magnet for millions.
We’ve come to follow in their footsteps and, indeed, savour more of what recently led to the National Park being awarded Unesco World Heritage status.
It’s a short break, but the beauty of this most scenic corner of the north west of England is that it’s all so doable and such a short hop across the border.
First up is Hill Top, Potter’s 17th Century farmhouse in the oh-so-pretty little village of Near Sawrey.
It’s looked after by the National Trust who say it’s a “time capsule of her life”. That description could hardly be more apt as the house feels like it’s been preserved in aspic.
It really is like Potter was here only yesterday, writing at that desk and looking out on that garden, letting her imagination run wild.
Sitting on the window seat in her bedroom we look out on the grassy slope where she described seeing sheep, distorted by a crooked pane.
Today it’s cows grazing, but otherwise it’s captivatingly unchanged.
Even the Tower Bank Arms next door – all stone floors and wooden beams – feels familiar as it looks the same as it did when it was featured in the Tales Of Jemima Puddleduck.
After our leisurely exploration of Potter’s home, we drive the half-hour round Lake Windermere to Bowness-on-Windermere and spend another fun hour at the World of Beatrix Potter attraction. It brings the landscapes of all 23 of her tales to life and kids, in particular, will love it.
We hop on one of the Windermere Steamers vessels for the half-hour hop up to Ambleside and then back. All the fresh air and exploration has worked up our appetites and our base for the night, Lancrigg Hotel, beckons.
Set in 30 acres of beautiful grounds, Lancrigg is just a mile outside of Grasmere, the heart of Wordsworth Country. New owners took over the 200-year-old house in 2016 and have been making changes, including the new family-friendly Poet’s Bar in what used to be explorer Sir John Richardson’s library.
We eat next door in the dining room but the edge is taken off our hunger as we are ushered into the lounge and offered scones (while the hotel sorts out a couple of minor issues with our room).
The scones have been made specially for us and are served up with jam and clotted cream.
It’s a lovely touch and an example of the welcoming feel this hotel has.
Having opened the windows to look out on the hills, hearing only birds and bubbling water, it has truly been the perfect, peaceful start to a new day.
And after a walk round the paths of the massive grounds, it’s time for round two of our literary love-in.
Dove Cottage in Grasmere, just five minutes away, was William Wordsworth’s first family home and it’s still packed with their belongings.
It was once an inn, the Dove and Olive Bough, and as we stand in the dark, wood-panelled front room, we reckon it would give a whole new meaning to the word snug!
William and Mary lived in the house for eight years, and three of their five kids were born there.
The guide tells us how William would recline on the couch in the sitting room looking out on the then-uninterrupted views across to the lake.
Of course, the village has at least one more claim to fame, its gingerbread.
Ever since Victorian cook Sarah Nelson invented it in 1854, it’s been mouth-wateringly irresistible.
And with a bag full for the journey back, we understand why.
Lancrigg (lancrigg.co.uk) prices start from £89 per room B&B in low season and from £129 per room B&B in high season.
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