Exploring Wordsworth

Exploring Wordsworth's Lake District

Kate W 29 March 2021

“I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils”

William Wordsworth, 1807

Here at Sally's Cottages, we just can't wait for spring to come around! There's nothing better than to feel the warmth of the very first sunshine, pass by lambs skipping in the fields, and see the spectacular displays of daffodils standing in the fields.

This wonderful golden flower was made popular in the Lake District by the celebrated writer, poet and political radical, William Wordsworth, and his famous poem 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud'. So what better time to explore Wordsworth's life and the places that inspired him, than in the lead up to the fabulous daffodil season?

Wordsworth House and Garden, Cockermouth

Wordsworth House and Garden, Cockermouth

Beautiful Loweswater, a lake near Cockermouth

William Wordsworth's love of nature and the Lake District started early in life. Born on 7th April 1770, and the second of five children, he was brought up at Wordsworth House in Cockermouth and adored spending time in the garden and countryside surrounding his home town. His father, John Wordsworth, was a lawyer and land agent to Sir James Lowther, one of the wealthiest men in the area, and the family home came with his position. Sadly Wordsworth's mother died before his 8th birthday, and his father died when he was just 13.

In the 1930s, Wordsworth House was saved by quick-thinking locals when word spread that it was to be sold off and demolished to make way for a bus garage. It was then gifted to the National Trust. Open from mid-March until October, the house is exactly as Wordsworth would have known it, with a roaring fire in the kitchen, a harpsichord for the musical amongst us to try out, and authentic dishes of food on the dining room table. Meet Amy, the Wordsworths' maid, who will tell you everything you want to know about Wordsworth's childhood, and what it was like working all hours in the house! There's a small and friendly tearoom in which to enjoy a sweet treat, and some great walks in the surrounding area too.

Take a look at our properties in Cockermouth.

Hawkshead Grammar School, Hawkshead

Hawkshead Grammar School, Hawkshead

After his mother died, Wordsworth and his brother Richard were sent away to Hawkshead Grammar School. Wordsworth had always been close to his sister Dorothy, but she was sent to live in Halifax, and it would be 9 years until they were reunited.

You can visit Wordsworth's schoolroom in the popular village of Hawkshead between April and September - you'll even see the desk on which he carved his name! Tourists had only just started to visit the Lakes at this time, so although this quaint little village is very different today, its characterful buildings ooze with charm, and it's a delightful place in which to sit out and eat whilst watching the world go by.

Take a look at our cottages in Hawkshead and Grizedale.

Dove Cottage, Grasmere

Dove Cottage, Grasmere

On leaving school, Wordsworth went to Cambridge University and travelled widely, completing walking tours in England and Europe. Whilst in France, he fell in love with Annette Vallon, and they had a child. It isn't clear if they planned to marry, but on his return home, the French declared war on England and this prevented him from meeting his daughter Caroline for another 10 years.

Wordsworth, along with his sister Dorothy, set up home in the south of England and spent time in Germany, but they always longed to return to their true home in the Lakes. Eventually they did, renting Dove Cottage at Town End, a hamlet just outside Grasmere, in 1799. It is said this is where Wordsworth produced some of his best poetry and writing. He married a childhood friend, Mary Hutchinson, but after eight happy years at Dove Cottage, the house become too small for their expanding family.

Dove Cottage has to be one of the most famous and best-loved places to visit in the Lake District, and is much as it would have been when the family lived there. Did you know that the house was once an inn called the 'Dove and Olive Bough'? You can find out more about the Wordsworths and their writing (many people are surprised to learn that Dorothy was an accomplished writer too) at the Wordsworth Museum, which also has a family room with lots of activities for the kids. Why not complete your visit with a tasty treat from the tearoom next door?

Take a look at our cottages in Grasmere.

Glencoyne, Ullswater

Glencoyne, Ullswater

The daffodils at Glencoyne, on the banks of Ullswater, were almost certainly the inspiration behind Wordsworth's poem 'the daffodils' ('I wandered lonely as a cloud...'). Dorothy wrote about a walk they took in this picturesque area in her journal in 1802. You too can follow in William and Dorothy's footsteps at this scenic spot, and while you're close by, why not visit Aira Force, which also features in Wordsworth's poetry?

View our cottages in Ullswater.

Allan Bank, Grasmere

Allan Bank, Grasmere

As Dove Cottage became too small, the family moved to Allan Bank in Grasmere where they lived for three years. The move must have made amusing local gossip, as Wordsworth had been against the house being built in the first place!

Allan Bank is now in the care of the National Trust, and had to be saved from fire in 2011. You can't see any of the original contents at the house, but it's a great place to spend some relaxed quality time with the family, whatever the weather!

Rydal Mount, Rydal

The Grot, Rydal Mount, Rydal

The Grot viewing hut and waterfall at Rydal mentioned in Wordsworth's poem, An Evening Walk, 1793

Sadness was never far away in Wordsworth's life, and he and Mary lost two of their young children in 1812, whilst living at Grasmere Rectory. They couldn't bear to be opposite the children's graves at St Oswald's Church, so made their final move to Rydal Mount in 1813.

Rydal Mount has a warm, lived-in atmosphere, and you'll see a number of the family's possessions on a visit here. Wordsworth loved gardening, and the 4-acre garden is still much as he designed it. You can also stop for a cuppa in the tearoom, which was originally the saddlery, but later became a schoolroom for Dora.

Dora's Field, Rydal

Dora's Field, Rydal

Wordsworth had planned to build a house for his daughter Dora, in what is now known as Dora's Field, in Rydal. Once again, however, tragedy struck when in 1847 Dora died, and so the family planted the field with daffodils in her memory. The flowers are at their best in late March and early April and the field, now owned by the National Trust, is a beautiful place to take a stroll while you're in the area.

St Oswald's Church, Grasmere

St Oswald's Church, Grasmere

William Wordsworth died of pleurisy in 1850 at the age of 80, and Dorothy and Mary both died in the years after. The family's graves can be seen at St Oswald's Church on a wander around Grasmere, and there is a monument to Wordsworth inside the church itself.

Wordsworth loved the Lake District dearly, and it's easy to understand why he and Dorothy were both drawn back here in adult life. If you'd like to find your dream cottage from which to explore the Lakes, you're bound to find just what you're looking for using our online search facility


Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

Like it? Share it...

Read more like this

The Great British Lake Off

Wondering where the best place to go in the Lake District is for water sports? Find out in our latest deep dive into our favourite Lake District locations.

Things to do in Coniston

Discover all the best things to do in Coniston with walks, watersports and places to eat all covered in this handy guide to the Lake District village.

The best things to do in the Lake District for summer

From beautiful boat trips on Coniston and Windermere to fun-filled days out for the whole family, discover the best things to do in the Lake District for summer.
The Travel Chapter Limited trading as Sallys Cottages is an appointed representative of ITC Compliance Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (their registration number is 313486) and which is permitted to advise on and arrange general insurance contracts as an intermediary.
The Travel Chapter Limited trading as Sallys Cottages | The Travel Chapter Limited is registered in England and Wales. | Registered office Travel Chapter House Gammaton Road Bideford EX39 4DF Company No. 02431506 | VAT reg: 143053210.