Where to retrace the footsteps of Beatrix Potter in the UK's Lake District

Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Jemima Puddleduck… These are just some of the beloved characters created by Beatrix Potter in the Lake District of England. The author is famed for her beautifully illustrated children’s books which are still read by children around the world over a century later. If you want to explore the stunning region that inspired Beatrix’s timeless tales, read on to discover the best Beatrix Potter landmarks to visit in the Lake District.

Hill Top

hill top farmhouse beatrix potter lake district
Image credit: Allen Watkin / Flickr

Hill Top farm is one of the most iconic places linked with Beatrix Potter in the Lake District. Beatrix bought Hill Top in 1905 for £2,805, with the royalties from her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

The charming cottage overlooks the village of Near Sawrey, west of Lake Windermere, and it became her escape from London. Many of her beloved stories were written and illustrated in this traditional farmhouse, including the tales of Tom Kitten, Samuel Whiskers, Two Bad Mice and Jemima Puddleduck.

When you visit Hill Top, you’ll find a time-capsule of Beatrix’s life, just the way she envisioned. When Beatrix passed away, she left the National Trust instructions for how she wanted the farmhouse displayed to the public. Conservation was crucial to Beatrix, and she wanted her fans to view the house as she left it.

You can see parts of the farmhouse that featured in her original illustrations, like the Jemima Puddle-Duck gate. There’s an original William Morris wallpaper in her old bedroom and a bed hanging which Beatrix embroidered herself. You can even see the original desk where Beatrix sat and penned her famous tales. 

Moss Eccles Tarn

lake Moss Eccles Tarn Lake District
Image credit: Christine Hasman / Wikimedia Commons

You can follow in the footsteps of Tom Kitten and Jemima Puddleduck outside the farmhouse, and spot the scenes that inspired Beatrix. Take a stroll from Hill Top to Moss Eccles Tarn, just as Beatrix did with her husband William.

Walk along the bridleway known as Stoney Lane, and see the place where Beatrix kept her rowing boat and boathouse. She spent many happy hours here sketching, and you can feel the magic that Beatrix saw in this beautiful world.

The World of Beatrix Potter

the world of beatrix potter lake district
Image credit: Jim Linwood / Flickr

Dive into the world of Beatrix Potter at this incredible attraction in Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District. You’ll get to meet Beatrix’s cherished characters as you explore 3D recreations of famous scenes. Wander through Mrs Tiggy-Winkle’s kitchen, Jemima Puddle-Duck’s woodland glade, and the garden where cheeky Peter Rabbit escaped Mr McGregor’s net.

The World of Beatrix Potter is a wonderful attraction for children and adults alike, complete with all the sights, sounds and smells of the countryside that inspired Beatrix. There are virtual walks, theatre shows, and you can learn more about Beatrix’s life, including the cryptic code she used in her personal diary.

Derwentwater

lake derwentwater lake district england

Beatrix’s family spent many holidays on the shores of Derwentwater. It was here that she first fell in love with the beautiful countryside of the Lake District. Take a stroll along the lakes and you may just recognise the locations from her tales about Squirrel Nutkin, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and Benjamin Bunny.

You can also see Wordsworth House (another famous author inspired by the Lake District), where some of Beatrix’s original artworks are displayed.

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Wray Castle

wray castle beatrix potter lake district

Wray Castle is one of the most important places associated with Beatrix Potter in the Lake District. Set on the shores of Lake Windermere, the Victorian Gothic castle was the first place Beatrix visited in the Lake District. When she was 16, she stayed at the castle on a family holiday, and it was here that she met Hardwicke Rawnsley, who encouraged her love of writing and helped get her first story published.

Beatrix loved to walk through the countryside with her sketch pad and draw what she saw. It was also here that Beatrix first recognised the importance of conservation and began to set in motion her plans to protect the beautiful Lake District. Thanks to Beatrix’s devotion to the Lake District and her efforts in buying numerous farms, which she later left to the National Trust, the area is still breathtakingly wild and untouched.

Today you can see the grand turrets and towers of Wray Castle. There’s a fantastic play area complete with a mini wooden fort, Peter Rabbit adventure rooms, artworks and films, and dress-up costumes to play knights and princesses. You can also enjoy a picnic on the terrace and soak up the stunning views across Lake Windermere that first stirred Beatrix’s imagination. 

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The Beatrix Potter Gallery, Hawkshead

Image credit: Plum leaves / Flickr

The Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead was once the office of Beatrix’s husband, solicitor William Heelis. Beatrix and William met and fell in love in Hawkshead and they married in the village in 1913. The couple went on to own many farms in the Lake District, and Beatrix fell in love with breeding the comical-faced Herdwick sheep.

Today, the National Trust own William’s old office and it’s open to the public as the Beatrix Potter Gallery. The 17th-century building houses a rotating series of Beatrix Potter’s original drawings, letters and illustrations from her books.

You’ll also find exhibitions dedicated to her life’s work. You can learn about her influential role in the community after she moved to the Lake District in 1905. There are also children’s activities and interactive exhibits. You can even hear tales read from Beatrix’s books, or have a go at drawing your own masterpiece.

A new National Trust exhibition opened at the Beatrix Potter Gallery on 15 February in 2020, called ‘Friendship by post – people who shaped Beatrix Potter’s world‘. It explores how important the art of sending letters was to Beatrix. 

beatrix potter gallery hawkshead village lake district
Image credit: Paul Shreeve / Wikimedia Commons

While you’re in Hawkshead village, take a moment to explore the streets. You can see how the narrow lanes and old shops inspired lots of Beatrix’s illustrations. You may recognise it from a few of her stories including Johnny Town-Mouse and The Pie and The Patty Pan.

The Beatrix Potter Trail, Brockhole

Set on the shores of Lake Windermere, Brockhole was the home of Beatrix’s cousin Edith Gaddum. Edith and her husband William were wealthy silk and yarn merchants. Beatrix used to visit their estate often to write stories about the gardens and surrounding countryside.

Today you can visit the estate and stroll along the Beatrix Potter Trail in Brockhole. Keep your eyes peeled and try to catch a glimpse of some of the native animals that inspired Beatrix’s tales!

Have you visited any Beatrix Potter destinations in the Lake District? Let us know in the comments below…

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