My mother used to read to me The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter when I was younger, which instilled a deep love of the countryside and quaint ways of life. Beatrix Potter still remains one of my idols, and I hope to emulate her in some way as I age. Thus, a deep-seated desire to visit the place she cherished most, The Lake District, was born.
Thanks to the immense generosity of my friend Kate, I have the opportunity to stay in The Lakes for an entire week. I depart tomorrow morning for this land I so far only dreamed of visiting. I cannot even begin to comprehend that I am fulfilling a dream I have held for about fifteen years. My excitement overwhelms me, and I am looking forward to finally being immersed in a land I had only read about. I feel as though I may lose my heart to this magical and beautiful place.
I spent most of my time at Thistlewood, the Allan’s enchanting home in Cumbria. Words cannot express how peaceful Thistlewood is. I could not believe that I was spending my days in a place right out of my beloved period novels. The surrounding countryside, the cozy interior, and the gardens made my heart sing. I hope one day I may return.
On my first full day in the Lakes, I was packed up and taken to Grasmere. Here, I was fortunate enough to sample the famed Grasmere gingerbread. I have never tasted true English gingerbread, and while it was not what I was expecting, the taste was pleasant enough for a cup of tea and a cozy moment spent relaxing. Adjacent to the gingerbread store was the Daffodil Garden where William Wordsworth (1770-1850), English poet, is buried.
After this wee detour we ventured up to Rydal Mount, one of Wordsworth’s homes in the Lakes. The architecture of the house captured my imagination. The surrounding gardens were incredible; I just tried to imagine what it must have been like for Wordsworth’s daughter to grow up in such a fairytale place.
Later, the Allens and I took a walk around Grasmere Lake. I was awestruck at the peaceful, picturesque setting of the lake.
There are places on this earth that one may yearn to visit with every fiber of their being. They pine for its hidden secrets, its adventures, and the vibrancy of its culture. However, they are sometimes let down. Then what do they have except gaunt and ravished dreams?
However, visiting Hill Top Farm, home of my Beatrix Potter, was everything I hoped and dreamed of, if not better. Leading up to our journey, I almost could not comprehend I would be walking the very paths she did, gazing upon the land she loved so dearly. Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted a life like Miss Potter’s, and yearned so ardently to gaze upon her prized cottage. I still cannot believe I visited such an idyllic and charming place.
After touring Hill Top, which is the most quaint cottage in all of England, Kate and I wandered about Hawkshead, the nearest village. After one of my favorite films, Stardust, I have deemed this village Wall, and hoped at every corner to meet my very own Tristan Thorne. Tea rooms were nuzzled deep within every cobbled alley, and charming gates marked entrances to many a cottage.
Later, we visited the Hawkshead Solicitor’s Office, where William Heelis, Beatrix Potter’s beloved husband worked. The office is since converted to a museum. 2013 actually marks the centennial of their marriage, as well as the centennial publication of The Tale of Pigling Bland. Many believe this story, of a little pig named Pigling Bland who falls in love with a beautiful black pig named Pigwig, Beatrix based off of William and herself. Above Kate and I are pictured posing as William and Beatrix, since replicas of their hats were available for dress up. That smile was on my face since Monday and did not leave until the following Sunday.
I ended my perfect day with some nice tea and my very first English crumpet back at Thistlewood. I finally know what a crumpet is, and I topped it with the most divine English honey. Perfect day indeed.
My final great adventure was a true mountain expedition in Blencathra. While many an Englishman may insist that these are mere hills in the Lakes, I am convinced they are mountains. With a smile carved onto my face and an intrepid heart I eagerly bounded up the snow encrusted “hill.”
The view from the summit is something I will never forget. I truly felt as if I was an adventurer from my favorite tales, and I could not help but be completely at peace. The chill mountain air put a fresh vigor in my step, and I truly believed I could conquer anything life threw at me in that moment. Nothing can ever compare to a mountain view. Nature is so very humbling.
My final thought on this trip was my introduction to Fell Cottage, nestled warmly at the base of Blencathra. Though simple and humble, I think my heart has been taken. I have made it my personal mission to keep tabs on such a sweet abode, and perhaps one day, I could become its proud owner. Though it may be but a dream, this trip proved that dreams do come true if you remain true to them.
Originally written 24 March 2013