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Having visited South Wales, North-East England and the Scottish Borders in recent years, we will be visiting North-West England and the Lake District for our trip in June, 2016. Known for its glacial ribbon lakes and rugged fell mountains that inspired so many artists, particularly writers, over the centuries, this is a region of breath-taking beauty and spectacular, often dramatic, expanses of relatively wild countryside.
A large part of the Lake District falls within the Lake District National Park but only a very small percentage is owned by the Park Authority. One of the largest, if not the largest owner is the National Trust. This is largely due to the generosity of one of the region’s literary “greats”: children’s author Beatrix Potter, who set out to conserve land by buying and farming it and left a considerable amount of it to the Trust in her will. The year 2016 is the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth and we will be visiting some of the properties and landscapes she loved. Her home, Hill Top (NT), is an obvious “must” but we also hope to enjoy some of the spectacular views she was so fond of.
The National Trust has an excellent museum in Hawkshead dedicated to the writer and artist’s work: the Beatrix Pottery Gallery which will be a highlight of a visit to that village.
Another literary connection to the region is with William Wordsworth. Allan Bank (NT), in the picturesque village of Grasmere, was a former home of the 19th century poet as was Dove Cottage, his first family home. The Wordsworth family graves can be seen in the well-kept cemetery behind St. Oswald’s church, itself well worth a visit.
John Ruskin, the leading English art critic of the 19th century, prominent social thinker and philanthropist bought Brantwood on the banks of Coniston Water in 1871. The house today offers an insight into his life and work, and the gardens memorable views of the lake. Coniston Water was later to be made famous by Sir Malcolm Campbell and his son, Donald, both of whom set world water speed records on it in the 20th century. We expect to be collected from Brantwood in a slower vessel, the National Trust’s Steam Yacht Gondola.
These are just some of the places we will see in Cumbria. On our way north from the overnight Zeebrugge ferry we have an interesting programme planned at Marsden with the Ranger of the Marsden Moor Estate (NT) that will include a look at the Standedge Tunnel, the highest, longest and deepest canal tunnel in Britain.
Then on to Rufford Old Hall (NT) where conservation experts will let us into some of the secrets of their work. On the way back we plan to visit one of England’s most famous railway stations, Carnforth, which starred in David Lean’s 1945 film Brief Encounter along with Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard.
And then to Gawthorpe Hall (NT), just emerging from under wraps following a major restoration programme. Here we will be introduced to the Hall’s fine Textile Collection.
Do book the dates now! June 21-27, 2016. Our accommodation for four nights is in a converted tannery, the Riverside Hotel, Kendal. The full programme for our trip will be published early in 2016