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The Beatrix Potter pilgrimage

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July 2016 marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter: well-loved British author, illustrator, entrepreneur, farmer and respected conservationist. To celebrate, we have chosen some lovely spots in her beloved Lakeland that you can visit. Why not walk in her footsteps and be inspired this summer?

1. Wray Castle

It was here that Beatrix began her love affair with the Lake District. She stayed here with her family in 1882, and became fond of the area that we now associate her with. Wray Castle was built in 1840 for retired surgeon James Dawson, and after his death it was inherited by the Rawnsley family. The castle and its 64 acres of land has had many uses over the years, including a training college for Merchant Navy radio officers between 1958 and 1998, and was donated to the National Trust in 1929. It has only recently been opened as a visitor attraction.

You can visit the neo-Gothic castle set on the shores of Lake Windermere any day of the week. See www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wray-castle for more information.

2. Hawkshead Village and the Beatrix Potter Gallery

The village of Hawkshead is the perfect place to discover the landscape that inspired Beatrix Potter’s stories, with lots of small alleyways and medieval squares for you to explore. The Beatrix Potter Gallery is an exhibition of Beatrix Potter’s original drawings and watercolours, housed in the seventeenth-century offices of her solicitor husband, William Heelis. As well as a chance to see one of Hawkshead’s oldest buildings, you will have the opportunity to find out more about the woman behind such characters as Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck. Be inspired by the story of an individual that was truly a pioneer of her generation.

The gallery is run by the National Trust. Visiting information can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/beatrix-potter-gallery-and-hawkshead

3. Hill Top Farm

A place that Beatrix Potter loved above all others – her home. Set in Near Sawrey, close to Hawkshead, this is the farm that Beatrix bought with the proceeds from the sales of her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The seventeenth-century house and beautiful garden went on to inspire many more of her tales, and it’s not hard to see why. She left the house and farmland to the National Trust after her death. A visit to Hill Top will give you an insight into the life that Beatrix Potter led, with the rooms having been preserved just as she left them.

Plan a trip to Hill Top at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hill-top

4. Moss Eccles Tarn

Situated at Claife heights, this beautiful tarn (reservoir) that you can walk to from Near Sawrey has a touch of romance about it. Beatrix Potter owned this land and made the tarn thrive, stocking it with fish and water lilies. She would row and sketch here while her husband, William, fished. This landscape inspired many Beatrix Potter stories, not least The Tale of Jeremy Fisher.

5. The World of Beatrix Potter

This adorable family attraction in the heart of Bowness-on-Windermere focuses on the life and works of Beatrix Potter. You can expect to be taken on a journey through the world of her literary characters, brought to life with 3D models and mechanical scenery – you will feel like you are part of a little book! Here you can learn more about the woman who was so much more than an author with an exhibition that illustrates her fascinating life in timeline format, t, take the time to relax in the wonderful Peter Rabbit garden and finish up in the lovely café and shop.

Find out more at www.hop-skip-jump.com/beatrix-potter-150-years/ 

6. The Armitt Museum Gallery Library

The Armitt in Ambleside aims to preserve and share the cultural heritage of the Lake District. This is a great place to visit to find out the lesser-known aspects of Beatrix Potter’s life, including her scientific legacy. She was fascinated with botany, and became well respected in the field of mycology. She produced numerous and exquisite botanical watercolour studies, which she left to The Armitt after her death, and there is a permanent collection called ‘Beatrix Potter: Image and Reality’. They also hold many of her and her family’s books, including her very own first editions of her works, and are open all year round.

 See www.armitt.com for more information

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