Literary Self-Guided Walking in the Lake District
Windermere, England to Hawkshead, England
Jaw-dropping scenery, world-famous lakes and incredible literary connections – this 6-night holiday in the South Lakes has it all. The inspiration for writers like Wordsworth, Ransome and Potter, not to mention a plethora of other artists and poets, the Lake District is a place of incredible natural beauty; idyllic and exhilarating in equal measure. In 2017, it was awarded World Heritage status, with the committee praising the area’s beauty, farming and the inspiration it had provided to artists and writers.
• Idyllic lakeside paths and quiet country lanes • Sections along the famous Cumbria Way • High fells, gushing streams and traditional Cumbrian stone villages • High-quality hotels serving excellent local fare
• 6 nights in 4-star accommodation
• 2 days hotel to hotel walking, optional walks on days 2, 4 and 6; averaging 4 hours per day
• Altitude maximum 273m, average 80m
• Wordsworth's Grasmere, Beatrix Potter's Hawkshead, and Coniston: the inspiration for Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons
You'll stay in a 4 star country house hotel in Grasmere, a charming 17th century inn serving fine local ales in Hawkshead, and cosy B&B gem in Coniston. Add an extra night in Bowness and you'll stay in the stunning Laura Ashley-designed Belsfield hotel, in an enviable location overlooking Lake Windermere.
All prices are based on 2 persons sharing, so if there is an odd number of people travelling in your party or you are travelling alone, there will be a compulsory supplement for a single room for the tour duration. For a solo traveller there is an additional charge to cover transfer costs.
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Group size: 1–6
Min age: 8
Activity level: Leisurely / Moderate
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DAY 1 - Arrive in Windermere
Arrive in Windermere, on the shores of the largest natural lake in England. We'll transfer you by taxi to the Wordsworth Hotel & Spa in Grasmere.
DAY 2 - Grasmere Circular Walk
Welcome to Wordsworth country! After a gentle walk this morning around the meandering River Rothay, you’ll leave the village along the shores of Grasmere Lake, passing St Oswald’s Church - Wordsworth’s final resting place - and Rydal Water, of which the poet wrote: “Like a fair sister of the sky, Unruffled doth the blue lake lie, The Mountains looking on.” You’ll visit majestic Rydal Hall and Gardens - Wordsworth’s family home - and perhaps stop for a tasty pub lunch before following the old coffin road back to Grasmere; Nab Scar looms ominously above you and there are wonderful views across the water to Silver Howe. Back in Grasmere you can spend time at the Wordsworth Museum, Dove Cottage (where the poet lived with his sister from 1799) and the renowned Grasmere Gingerbread Shop!
DAY 3 - Grasmere to Coniston
It’s all about stunning scenery today as you make your way to the village of Coniston. After a short climb through either Hammerscar Plantation - overlooked by Loughrigg Fell and with incredible views over Langdale - or the shaded paths of the National Trust’s High Close Estate, you’ll descend into the breathtaking Great Langdale Valley where you’ll pick up the Cumbria Way walking trail. Here you’ll find Elterwater, the smallest of the Lake District’s 16 lakes and popular with huge Whooper Swans from Scandinavia! Follow the foaming River Brathay, enjoying spectacular views of the striking Langdale Pikes, and you’ll reach charming Skelwith Bridge - a perfect spot for riverside refreshments. We recommend a visit to the cascading waterfalls of Skelwith Force and Colwith Force, and the picturesque fishing spot of Tarn Hows, en route to your elegant hotel.
DAY 4 - Coniston Circular Walk
Coniston has inspired many literary greats and it’s not hard to see why. Heading south along the Cumbria Way you’ll meet the shores of the pristine Coniston Water which served as the inspiration for Arthur Ransome’s much-loved Swallows and Amazons. The majestic Old Man of Coniston - the local area’s highest fell at 803m – dominates the village skyline and presides over your route. Heading away from the lake you’ll find the old Viking village of Torver; the Church House Inn, which dates from 1378, is a great place to stop for a drink before making your way back to Coniston. This afternoon you could pay a visit to the Ruskin Museum, or head to the Black Bull, Coniston’s compact, multi-award winning brewery. The bar here has hosted several famous names including Turner, Coleridge and more recently, Sir Anthony Hopkins!
DAY 5 - Coniston to Hawkshead
Today you’ll visit Brantwood, the former home of Victorian writer, philosopher and artist John Ruskin. In a picturesque setting overlooking the lake, Brantwood is filled with fine paintings, beautiful furniture and a collection of Ruskin’s personal treasures. After your visit, head into the peaceful Grizedale Forest, a shady gem located between the lakes of Coniston and Windermere. The forest offers superb lake and mountain views and - perhaps unusually - a number of sculptures hidden away in the trees! Grizedale extends across Monk Coniston Moor and your last stretch of today’s walk takes you all the way to Hawkshead Moor, from where you’ll descend into Hawkshead village. Your home for the next two nights is the superb, 17th century Queens Head Inn which overlooks the cobbled village square.
DAY 6 - At Hawkshead
The choice is yours today. Fans of Beatrix Potter will enjoy the National Trust's Beatrix Potter Gallery in the centre of Hawkshead, followed by a visit to Near Sawrey's Hilltop Farm, the former retreat of the world-famous children's author. Now in the hands of the National Trust, Hill Top is a delight to explore. Wander the 17th century rooms where you'll find Potter's original writing desk, and walk through the pretty cottage garden - the inspiration for many of Potter's tales! Another option is to head east, via pretty green meadows and the shimmering Blelham Tarn, to visit the National Trust's beautiful Wray Castle. Back in Hawkshead, be sure to reward yourself with one of the brewery's award-winning ales!
DAY 7 - Leave Hawkshead
After breakfast, if you have pre-booked a transfer, a taxi will take you to Windermere station.
We recommend adding an extra night to your holiday, to take advantage of our walk from Hawkshead to the popular lakeside town of Bowness-on-Windermere (12km/7.5mi/3.5hr). The route takes you through pretty meadows and woodland and up to Latterbarrow Fell (245m) from where you’ll enjoy incredible views across Windermere to Bowness. Descending to the lakeside, you’ll follow a waterside path along Windermere’s tranquil western shore; catch a ferry across to Bowness and take some time to explore this ever-popular town, before retiring to your Laura Ashley-designed hotel overlooking Lake Windermere.
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