April marks William Wordsworth’s 250th birthday and the Lake District, the seminal poet’s home and muse, is one of the most romantic spots in the world. So why not reignite your passion for poetry and get inspired by this three-day itinerary tracing the great writer’s life and loves around the lakes?
One of Wordsworth’s most beloved spots, Grasmere is the setting of his cherished home Dove Cottage. A sanctuary for William and his sister Dorothy from 1799 to 1808, the cottage has since become a literary mecca for fans of the poet, offering the chance to step back in time to when Wordsworth penned some of his best-loved lines. Having undergone a £6.2m renovation, new additions include authentically restored rooms, a re-creation of the ‘half-wild’ garden, new learning spaces and listening spots.
Alongside the cottage lies the Wordsworth Museum. Also included in the renovation, the new restoration will feature a modernised collection of manuscripts, books and art, new galleries full of artefacts, an impressive rooftop viewpoint and fantastic new woodland walking trails.
Located just a short walk away is St Oswald’s Church. A medieval delight and Wordsworth’s final resting place, it’s also the site where he planted eight yew trees, one of which marks the grave of both the poet and his wife, Mary. And just a stone’s throw away lies Allan Bank, Wordsworth’s family house. Now a National Trust property, it was William and Mary’s home for three years from 1808 with their first three children, John, Dora and Thomas.
A scenic 40-minute drive away from Grasmere is Ullswater and the renowned beauty of Glencoyne Park. Adorned with swathes of golden-yellow flowers, this sun-kissed spot was one of the poet’s favourite places to walk and inspired his famous line ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’, in the poem Daffodils.
Located a little over an hour’s drive away is Hawkshead Grammar School, where Wordsworth was educated. The school now acts as a museum, complete with 16th-century schoolroom and upstairs areas filled with fascinating artefacts from the time of Wordsworth, including the original school desks and some of the young poet’s own carvings. And just a few steps from the school is Ann Tysons House. Now a family-run B&B, the Grade-II listed building is where Wordsworth lodged whilst studying at the school.
Located just over 15 minutes from Hawkshead is Rydal Mount and Gardens, Wordsworth’s birthplace. Nestled within five acres of manicured grounds complete with rock pools, terraces and an ancient mound, the flower-clad 16th-century house is home to a unique collection of family portraits and memorabilia. Filled with one-off artefacts and trinkets, the house offers a special insight into the life of Wordsworth and his family, and the inspiration behind his greatest works.
A 50-minute drive through the rolling green hills of the Lake District takes us to the quaint Cumbrian town of Cockermouth and Wordsworth House and Garden – the poet’s childhood home and the final stop on our tour. Home to Wordsworth, his brothers, sister and his parents from 1770 to 1779, the National Trust property reveals the influence the landscape’s rugged beauty had on his childhood. What’s more, the Trust has created a fascinating podcast, offering you the chance to delve deeper into the life of the poet and the influence of the house on literature in Britain and the world.