Reading on the beach

In March of 2020 I had plans to revisit England when, well, you know… I’d put a deposit down on a Jane Austen Festival Girls Trip and I was half-way through creating an itinerary to visit England’s Lake District after the festival. Seeing Beatrix Potter’s home at Hill Top has been on my bucket list for a while and the Windermere Jetty Museum was opening a new Swallows and Amazons boat exhibit that year. I discovered while creating my itinerary that the Lake District has been home to several well-known authors, and the literary destinations and activities available are too numerous to fit into the 3-4 days I had allotted to spend in the area! The silver lining is now I have more time to properly plan. I thought I’d share my in-progress Lake District literary-filled itinerary with you.

*This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a book through these links, I’ll make a few cents at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting the blog.

Days 1 & 2: Peter Rabbit (and the 22 other Original Tales) by Beatrix Potter

To Be Read

Purchase Peter Rabbit Complete Tales on Amazon

Author Helen Beatrix Potter wrote and illustrated 23 children’s stories inspired by the animals she met while living in England’s Lake District. The most famous is Peter Rabbit, about a naughty bunny who almost gets caught by an angry farmer, but manages to get away. 
Purchase Peter Rabbit via Amazon | Bookshop
Purchase The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter Amazon | Bookshop

Tours & Activities

In the Lake District you can visit the author’s home where she wrote and illustrated, as well as several other locations related to Potter where you can learn about her conservation work and natural science interest. She didn’t just illustrate her books, she also made mycology illustrations which can be seen at the Armitt Library and Museum. After learning all about the author you can immerse yourself in the cute animal world of her books at the Beatrix Potter Attraction! 

To help me plan my time in the Lake District, I reached out to Steven of Literary Tours England for suggestions. The pre-made Lake District Tour on their website wasn’t quite what I was looking for, so I asked for some personalized itinerary help. Steven suggested the Beatrix Potter English Lake Tours.

English Lake Tours: Beatrix Potter Full or Half Day Tour

English Lake Tours does a Beatrix Potter Half Day Tour or Full Day Tour. The tours take you to Potter’s Hill Top house and several other locations important to the author’s life and her books. The full day adds a visit to a Potter gallery in Hawkshead village and the Armitt Library & Museum at Ambleside to see Potter’s mycology illustrations and other artifacts. 

World of Beatrix Potter Attraction

The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction looks like a fun experience for children or even adults who grew up reading Peter Rabbit. After learning all about the author the day before, it’s time to immerse yourself in the world of her books.

Accommodations

The Potter Tour can be joined from Bowness-on-Windermere which is where the Potter Attraction is located, so I might find accommodations in Bowness for a night or two. Unfortunately, despite much Googling, I did not find the kind of accommodation I believe Bowness should have. Somebody should really think about making a hotel with 23 rooms, each themed for a different Beatrix Potter Tale.

Day 3: Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransom

To Be Read

Purchase Swallows and Amazons on Amazon

Four siblings, John, Susan, Titty, and Roger, are spending summer vacation with their mother and baby sister at Holly Howe Farm in the Lake District when they’re offered the use of a small sailing boat named Swallow. Their mother agrees to let her children take supplies to camp on one of the islands in the lake which the Farm overlooks. After setting up camp, the children discover they aren’t the only kids on the island. Sisters Nancy and Peggy arrive in a small sailboat named Amazon. The two groups of sailors challenge each other to play at pirate war, and end up finding real buried treasure. 

Arthur Ransom, while vacationing at Bank Ground Farm on Coniston Water, met a family whose children inspired Swallows and Amazons and 12 more books about the Swallows and Amazons after that. 
Purchase Swallows and Amazons via Amazon | Bookshop

Tours & Activities

Unfortunately the boat exhibit I had hoped to see is no longer on display, but to make up for that, there are so many options for getting out on the lake in a boat, just like the kids in Ransom’s book.

Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats Steam and Stories, Swallows and Amazons Forever! Exhibit (No longer Available)

Unfortunately, the exhibit Swallows and Amazons Forever! at the Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats Steam and Stories was replaced in 2021. The two boats, the Swallow and Amazon, used in the 2016 film adaptation of the book were on display.

Boat Trips on Coniston Water

The only way to truly get into the spirit of Swallows and Amazons is to get out on Coniston Water, and there are several options for doing just that! If you’d like to just cruise around the lake viewing locations Arthur Ransom renamed and put into his book, the Coniston Launch has a Swallows and Amazons Cruise on Coniston Water.
If you’d like to have a more hands-on boating experience and get more close up to places like “Wild Cat Island”, Joint Adventures offers a kayak/canoe Wild Cat Island Swallows and Amazons Adventure.

OR…

Accommodations

Step right into the book Swallows and Amazons by staying at Holly Howe Farm and borrow a rowboat. Today Bank Ground Farm, the inspiration behind Holly Howe Farm, is still a bed and breakfast as well as a working farm. In homage to Ransom and his books, the B&B now has a Swallows & Amazons cafe and watercraft rentals for guests to play on the lake.

Day 4: Wordsworth’s Lake District

To Be Read

According to the Bonnets at Dawn podcast Season 4.2 Episode 7, William Wordsworth and his sister Dorthy, who lived at Dove Cottage in the Lake District, were both writers. William, who became more famous, even lifted lines in his famous Daffodil poem straight out of his sister’s journal!

Also, according to Bonnets at Dawn podcast Season 4.2 Episode 1, Besides poetry, William also wrote A Guide to the Lakes to attract visitors to the Lake District. He wrote this at a time when writer’s houses were popular travel destinations. Beatrix Potter was not fond of people showing up at her door to meet her in person, but Wordsworth went as far as writing a guide to increase tourism in the Lake District.

Tours & Activities

Dove Cottage (Home of William and Dorthy Wordsworth), Grasmere

Since William Wordsworth encouraged literary tourism to the Lake District, it would just be wrong not to visit his home, Dove Cottage!

Eat Famous Gingerbread

I’ve heard about the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop from multiple sources, and wouldn’t miss it!

Wordsworth English Lake Tours

Both of these sites and more having to do with Wordsworth can be visited with a full or half day English Lake Tours Wordsworth Tour.

Day 5: The Bronte Sisters

To Be Read

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

Purchase The Brontë Sisters Boxed Set via Amazon or Bookshop

Tours & Activities

I’m not sure you can say you’ve visited the Lake District if you haven’t visited the Bronte Parsonage. Once again, the English Lake Tours will take you to the Bronte Parsonage with a guide and driver and point out other Bronte related sites long the way.

Day 6+: More Lake District Authors

I would give myself 5-6 days in the Lake District to visit locations mentioned above. If you have more time to spend in the area, there are more Lake District authors’ histories worth exploring:

Let’s Chat!

Are you familiar with the Lake District? Have I left a destination off my itinerary? Do you have an accommodation suggestion? Have you read any of these books? Tell us in the comments below!

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