Follow in the footsteps of Beatrix Potter and take in key sites associated with this famous author, illustrator and champion of Herdwick sheep. The tour can be undertaken by car and starts at Wray Castle, ending at the Armitt Museum in Ambleside. Click here to browse our cottages in the South East Lake District including Ambleside, Coniston, and Grasmere.
Wray Castle is pivotal to the story of Beatrix Potter. It was here that the Potter family stayed on their very first trip to the Lake District and became friends with the local vicar, Canon Hardwick Rawnsley. He was to have a lasting impact upon the young Beatrix.
From here it’s an easy drive to Hawkshead, where you will find the Beatrix Potter Gallery. Beatrix’s husband, William Heelis, worked here as a solicitor/land agent. Nowadays, the building houses many of Beatrix’s original watercolours for her children’s books.
As an optional detour take the road towards Coniston and head to Tarn Hows. This picturesque beauty spot was bought by Beatrix Potter in 1930 to preserve it from unwelcome development and later given to the National Trust.
Nearby is Yew Tree Farm – one of Beatrix’s tenanted farms and the most photogenic of all. The farm featured as the stand-in location for Hill Top in the film ‘Miss Potter’.
Return to Hawkshead and drive along the west shore of Esthwaite Water. At the far end of the lake is a short nature trail based on characters from Beatrix Potter’s books. Beatrix sketched water lilies here and the lake was the likely setting for The Tale of Jeremy Fisher.
Approaching Near Sawrey, look across to the large white house on the left. This is Ees Wyke Country House (formerly Lakefield) – another of the Potter family’s holiday homes. Whilst staying here in 1896 Beatrix fell in love with the local area.
On the proceeds of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top in the village of Near Sawrey. The house and its surroundings inspired her to illustrate several more children’s books including The Tale of Samuel Whiskers, The Tale of Jemina Puddle-Duck and The Tale of Tom Kitten. Hill Top is full of Beatrix’s treasured possessions and left unchanged from the day she died in 1943.
Have a break for refreshments at the Tower Bank Arms in Near Sawrey – a traditional Lakeland pub that featured in The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck.
On the opposite side of the village is Castle Cottage – Beatrix Potter’s marital home. Private tours for groups can be arranged by clicking here for details.
Continue down to the car ferry point and cross over to Bowness-on-Windermere. A short hop, skip and jump away is The World of Beatrix Potter, where you can meet your favourite characters including Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Jemima Puddleduck and of course, mischievous Peter Rabbit.
End the day at the Armitt Museum in Ambleside, which holds many of her exquisite botanical watercolours and illustrations, and has excellent displays on Beatrix Potter.
On the success of her books, Beatrix Potter acquired a total of 14 farms, 8 cottages and 4000 acres of land in the central Lake District. On her death in 1943, she bequeathed everything to the National Trust which now safeguards this important legacy on behalf of the nation.
World of Beatrix Potter