The poet William Wordsworth called the English Lake District “the loveliest spot that man hath found,” and he is not alone as stunning scenery of the Lake District and Cumbria have influenced a great many writers and poets. Whilst staying at the Pheasant you can visit the homes of William Wordsworth, John Ruskin and Beatrix Potter or see the places that inspired Alfred Lord Tennyson, Edward Fitzgerald and Arthur Ransome.
Wordsworth childhood home, Wordsworth House can be found just a 10-minute drive away in the lovely Georgian town of Cockermouth. The house is presented as it would have been when William and Dorothy lived here in the 1770s with knowledgeable costumed guides, a working kitchen, a nursery full of toys and a beautiful walled garden packed with fruit, herbs and flowers.
A little further away in Grasmere sits Dove Cottage, much as it was when Wordsworth left in 1808. Here and in the museum are the only places in the world where his possessions and manuscripts are displayed together. There are engaging guides who give a view of what life was like in Dove Cottage and the exploits of those who visited whilst the onsite museum tells Wordsworth's life story including his radical ideas and how he changed literature forever.
With breath-taking views of Coniston, Brantwood is the former home of art critic, writer and social reformer, John Ruskin. The historic house, museum and gardens are packed with displays that reflect the wealth of cultural associations with Ruskin's legacy – from the Pre Raphaelites and the Arts and Crafts Movement to the founding of the National Trust and the Welfare State.
Not far from Brantwood in the village of Coniston is the small but perfectly formed Ruskin Museum. Described as a “cabinet of curiosities which tells the story of Coniston,” the museum features John Ruskin’s exquisite watercolours as well as displays on Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons, which was based on Coniston and the surrounding hills. The museum even houses the sailing dinghy Mavis, the inspiration of the fictional Amazon, complete with centre-board.
No literary Lake District trip would be complete without paying homage to Beatrix Potter, particularly as 2016 celebrates the 150th anniversary of her birth. Beatrix Potter's home, Hill Top Farm, is wonderfully preserved just as she had lived with its glorious setting that inspired such delightful characters as Peter Rabbit and Jeremy Fisher. Whilst visiting Hill Top we highly recommend popping into Beatrix Potter Gallery in nearby Hawkshead which houses her original artwork in a lovely 17th-century house which was the former office of Beatrix Potter's husband William Heelis.
Another interesting side trip is to the Armitt Museum in Ambleside of which Beatrix Potter was a great benefactor. There is a permanent exhibition devoted to her life and explores her extraordinary life and achievements, beyond being an author of children's books.
Last, but not least, situated across Bassenthwaite Lake to us sits Mirehouse, described as a “Manor from Heaven” by broadcaster and author Melvyn Bragg. The house has a wealth of unique literary connections – with links to Tennyson, Southey and Thomas Carlyle. The Spedding family still live in the house which is open to guests, who can wander the ground floor with live piano music flowing from room to room. Outside the gardens include a tranquil walled garden planted for bees and a terraced Poetry Walk.
For more information on discovering Cumbria’s literary heritage go to