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A village that has inspired some of Britain's greatest literary figures

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Esthwaite Water
Old Grammar School
Beatrix Potter Gallery
Hawkshead is a pretty village on the banks of Esthwaite Water. It gained wealth from the wool trade in medieval times, and hosted a popular market in the 17th century. Many of the town's buildings date from that time, and they remain its pride and joy.
Hawkshead is filled with attractive whitewashed cottages, decorated with black window frames and tall chimneys. They seem to have been scattered around at random, then joined up afterwards by a maze of streets, alleyways and courtyards. It can be a difficult place to navigate, especially as there are precious few street signs. You'll often stumble across a café, gift shop or inn, hidden away in the most unexpected of corners.
Outside of Hawkshead you'll find a typically beautiful slice of Lake District scenery. To see everything in one go, you can make the climb up to St. Michael & All Angels church. It stands on a hill that gives great views over Hawkshead, Esthwaite Water and the surrounding fells.

Hawkshead Church
Photo Frenkieb
The village is famous for being the childhood home of William Wordsworth. This Lake District local would go on to become arguably the greatest British poet of all time. He lived in Hawkshead between 1779 and 1787, when he was very young. Wordsworth was educated at the Old Grammar School, which has since been transformed into a museum. The exhibits contain information about the school, its founders and Wordsworth's time here. In the main classroom, you can see where the young poet carved his name into one of the desks. At the time, the punishment for misdemeanours like this was quite severe. William would have been suspended in mid-air via a pulley system, and beaten with a branch of wood!
Even after Wordsworth had left Hawkshead, it stayed in his mind. Many of his poems featured descriptions of the village and its surroundings. The most famous example is 1805's "The Prelude", an autobiographical piece that is considered to be his finest work.
Wordsworth isn't the only famous writer to have spent time in Hawkshead. Beatrix Potter, the famous children's author and illustrator, also has strong connections with the town. A gallery on Main Street displays a selection of her work. The building itself used to be the office of her solicitor husband, and it has barely changed at all since that time. Beatrix knew the town like the back of her hand, and many of her books were set here.

Beatrix Potter Gallery
Photo Paul Shreeve (cc)
Further south, on the other side of the lake, is the tiny hamlet of Near Sawrey. This is the location of Beatrix's home, Hill Top, an old farmhouse surrounded by trees and flowers. Like the Hawkshead gallery, this building is owned by the National Trust, and is open to the public. This is the place where characters like Jemima Puddleduck and Samuel Whiskers were first dreamed up.
Hawkshead has changed very little over the years, so it's easy to see why it inspired the imaginations of both Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth. The village is also ideally placed for explorations of the Lake District, with Windermere an easy half-hour walk to the east. Coniston Water is only slightly further away, an hour or so to the west.

Kings Arms Hotel

Photo king_david_uk (cc)
The Inn, on Hawkshead's Main Square, has greeted visitors since Elizabethan times to a place where the pace of life remains quiet and unhurried. Serves local beers and food all day. Dogs and children welcome. Tel: 01539 436372

Drunken Duck Inn

Photo houghtonbirds (cc)
Situated approximately 3 miles from Hawkshead (towards Ambleside), this is a very stylish and civilised Inn offering bar, restaurant and rooms. The Inn has a more informal feel during the day when it's very popular with walkers. The Bar is quite small with beams and oak panelling, it serves it's own brewed Barngates Ales, continental draught beers and 17 differing wines by the glass. There are 3 restaurant areas and very good bar food served all day. Outside are tables and benches with spectacular fell views. Barngates, LA22 0NG.

Latterbarrow Walk

The summitt of Latterbarrow
Photo estoril (cc)
This relative small Lakeland fell occupies a wonderful position close to Hawkshead. A delightful walk takes you to the summit of Latterbarrow and offers a fantastic view of a wide panorama of higher fells that also includes Lake Windermere.
Visitor Information
Hawkshead Tourist Information Centre, Main Street, Hawkshead, LA22 0NS. Tel: 015394 36946
Hill Top House is open Saturday to Thursday (closed friday), 10am to 5pm (earlier in winter). Entry costs £7 for adults, £3.50 children. Near Sawrey, Hawkshead, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 0LF. Tel: 015394 36269

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