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Writers and poets inspired by the Lake District


 
If you find yourself inspired by the scenery while exploring the rolling hills, rugged fells, lush forests, and glacial lakes of northwest England's Lake District, you’re not alone. The region has a long history of inspiring English writers and poets, instilling the region with a rich literary culture that you can discover during your visit.

 

A literary guide to the Lake District

Viewing and exploring the Lake District through the eyes of the many writers who either called it home or fell in love with the area and wrote about its beauty, adds a layer of cultural immersion to discovering this mountainous region. While the Lake District is undoubtedly one of the best walking and hiking regions in the UK, its contributions to English literature can play a key role in helping visitors understand why the area is so special.

 

The top Lake District writers and poets

The Lake District first became a major influence in English literature during the 17th and 18th centuries, inspiring some of the greatest British writers of the time. Here are just some of the wordsmiths who drew inspiration from this enchanting region.

Beatrix Potter

After first visiting the Lake District as a young girl, beloved children's author and illustrator Beatrix Potter — best known for childhood classics like The Tale of Peter Rabbit — returned as an adult to purchase farmland and become a breeder of the endangered local Herdwick sheep. Many of the locations featured in her stories are inspired by her 17th-century Hill Top home near Esthwaite Water.

William Wordsworth

"And then my heart with pleasure fills, and dances with the daffodils." If you've ever read this joyful ode to blooming daffodils in I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by 17th-century poet William Wordsworth, you have the Lake District to thank for it. After growing up in Cockermouth and later in life living in the idyllic Dove Cottage in Grasmere, Wordsworth was instrumental in introducing many of England's most influential late 18th- and early 19th-century writers to the wonders of the Lake District. In addition to being a founding figure of the English Romanticism movement and one of the most notable Romantic poets, Wordsworth was also one of the founders of the Lake Poets, a group of writers and poets who lived in the area and often drew inspiration from these landscapes for their work.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

A fellow founding member of the Lake Poets group, English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was best known for his fantastical, epic poems like Kubla Khan and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, that explore the theme of travel to new or foreign lands.

John Ruskin

Similar to Beatrix Potter, the English writer John Ruskin first visited the Lake District as a child and, inspired by it from an early age, returned to live there as an adult. Writing in a variety of forms, from essays to travel guides, his work explored then new and unexplored themes like conservation and sustainability.

 

Other notable Lake District writers

While hundreds of writers can claim the Lake District as a place of inspiration, some of the most notable names include Robert Southey, Arthur Ransome, Dorothy Wordsworth, Alfred Wainwright, and Charles and Mary Lamb.

 

Following in the footsteps of the Lake District literati

If you want to see, explore and experience the Lake District as its famous literary figures once did, these Lake District walks, scenic spots, museums, and educational centers will help you walk a mile in their shoes, and maybe even consequently write about your peregrinations.

Lake District Visitor Centre

Head to the Lake District Visitor Centre at Brockhole on the shores of Lake Windermere for an illuminating introduction to the region. As well as offering plenty of fun activities from trampolining and archery, to tree top rope courses and zip lines, the center is also housed in the former home of Beatrix Potter's cousin, Edith Gaddum (née) Potter.
 

Scafell Pike

Summiting the highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike, is a celebrated and popular 9.4-mile-long Lake District hike. Ascending to the peak of this mighty fell gives you a top-of-the-world, panoramic vista of the surrounding mountain peaks, revealing why so many writers fell in love with these rugged landscapes.

Haystacks

Undertaking the gently winding, moderately graded eight-mile loop to the summit of this mountain peak offers an insight on why it was the favorite fell-top of celebrated Lake District guidebook author and illustrator, Alfred Wainwright. He loved it so much that he requested his ashes be scattered there. From the top, the view encompasses the lake and grassy slopes of Buttermere Valley and the nearby peaks of Dale Head and High Stile.
 

Wordsworth Museum

Housed in his former home at Dove Cottage, Wordsworth Grasmere preserves the belongings of both William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy, displayed in rooms throughout this humble Lake District residence, complemented by educational exhibits and original works in the museum next door.
 

Beatrix Potter Gallery

View lovely original watercolors, letters, and other work by the much-loved English writer and illustrator in the Beatrix Potter Gallery, housed in a 17th-century home in the village of Hawkshead.

 

Find inspiration on your own Lake District adventure

Ready to create your own magnum opus? Discover landscapes and small communities rich in literary history on our Walk the Lake District Tour, which includes some of the same trails that many local literary greats once followed. The Lake District is just one of numerous regions waiting to be explored on our immersive tours around the UK.

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