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How did the Lake District influence Beatrix Potter's 150 years of success

Posted by Luci Ackers on 3 August 2016
Related property: Braithwaite Court
How did the Lake District influence Beatrix Potter's 150 years of success Beatrix Potter: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain Beatrix Potter: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The Lake District is closely associated with a number of literary figures. One of which is the famous Beatrix Potter. She spent much of her childhood in this iconic National Park and was inspired by its natural beauty.

Potter's relationship with the landscape was an important one and many of her sketches are of areas that can still be seen out today. Walk in the footsteps of this famous children's author to celebrate the 150th year since her birth.

Wray Castle

During her younger years Beatrix Potter enjoyed many summer holidays in the stunning countryside of the Lake District; it's where her love for nature and the outdoors really took hold. Her first visit was a family holiday in 1882 to Wray Castle, which is on the shores of Lake Windermere and now cared for by the National Trust. It's a mock-Gothic castle with lots to do for little ones – both inside and out.

The property can be found on the north-western shore of Lake Windermere > www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wray-castle

Lingholm Estate

Following their stay at Wray Castle the family spent a number of summers on the banks of Derwentwater where they would rent out Lingholm Estate as a holiday home for a couple of months each year. Having grown up in London, and used to quite an isolated childhood, the Lake District allowed her creativity and imagination to truly flourish. It was here that she was inspired to write and illustrate her most famous works.

Image: © Copyright Graham Hogg. Licensed for reuse under CC-BY-SA.

Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGregor's garden

Lingholm is a picturesque country estate on the western shores of Derwentwater. Beatrix Potter spent many happy hours exploring the grounds, wandering the lake shore and sketching her famous pictures here. The lovely kitchen and walled garden at Lingholm were recently restored to their former design and now look much the same as they would have in Beatrix Potter's time. It was this garden that acted as her chief inspiration for Mr. McGregor's garden in the Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Beatrix Potter: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The recent renovation project has seen the replanting of the kitchen garden and recreation of the octagonal walled garden, which was built using reclaimed materials to replicate the original Victorian style. Even the original Victorian greenhouse has been restored. The gardens are now overlooked by a stunning new café, 'The Lingholm Kitchen', and a shop offering artisan gifts. New footpaths link with the Cumbrian Way, leading walkers here through the grounds of the estate. Anyone on a trek up Catbells fell will be able to detour through the gardens to stop off for a pick-me-up cuppa in the café. You'll be met with a wonderful selection of cakes, hot food, teas and coffees and friendly staff!

Image: © The Lingholm Kitchen


Squirrel Nutkin and Owl Island

So it was the gardens of Lingholm that inspired Peter Rabbit. But it was the woods of the surroundings that inspired the Tale of Squirrel Nutkin. As you walk through the Lingholm woods you may be lucky enough to spot some of its red squirrel inhabitants skipping through the branches. Wander your way to the western shores of Derwentwater and the scenery may start to look familiar; it was here Beatrix Potter sketched.

Beatrix Potter: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

If you look out across the water you'll spot 'Owl Island', instantly recognisable from her picture as the place the squirrels sailed to on their rafts.

The trees and the shallows of the lake along the western shore towards Copperheap Bay were also captured by Potter, as well as the rolling fells of the back drop. They can be easily identified if you're standing in the right spot.

Beatrix Potter: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

In 2016 the National Trust have teamed up with Keswick Canoe and Bushcraft to allow visitors to discover 'Owl Island' for themselves. St. Herbert's Island, as it is perhaps better known, is the largest of Derwentwater's islands and those interested in replicating Squirrel Nutkin's journey can take a guided canoe trip there on the 3rd of September or 8th of October 2016. You'll stop for a tea break on the island and enjoy the scenery as you go. Booking is essential > www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events

Later life

Hill Top Farm

Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top farm, close to Hawkshead, in 1905 with the proceeds from her first book – The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Today it remains much like it did back then; she left the house to the National Trust, a charity that was close to her heart, and it has been kept beautifully as a shrine to the author. Visiting Hill Top allows you to step back in time to Beatrix's day and see the house and artefacts as she left them. Each room holds a reference to one of her tales and there is a lovely cottage garden to enjoy.

Image: © Copyright Peter Trimming. Licensed for reuse under CC-BY-SA.

For all the upcoming events and things to see and do at Hill Top, take a look at the website.

Beatrix Potter Gallery

Not far from Hill Top, close to Lake Windermere, the Beatrix Potter Gallery is located in the former offices of her husband William Heelis. Also owned by the National Trust, this gallery has housed Beatrix Potter artwork since 1985. You'll be able to see her original drawings and beautiful watercolours.

Take a look at the website.

Beatrix Potter: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The World of Beatrix Potter

If you want to delve a little deeper into Beatrix Potter's story, the World of Beatrix Potter is a magical experience for the whole family. This award winning attraction, located in Bowness-on-Windermere, brings her story vividly to life. Here you can take a walk through an indoor recreation of the Lakeland countryside, visiting Peter Rabbit and all his friends along the way. Visitors have the opportunity to enjoy a special film about Beatrix Potter's life and a video wall introducing all the classic tales. The attraction includes a gift shop and Tailor of Gloucester Tea Room.

For events and more information about The World of Beatrix Potter, take a look at the website.


As 2016 marks the 150th year since her birth, the National Trust has decided to host a number of special attractions and events in celebration of one of England's best known children's authors. Her love for nature and the Lake District meant Beatrix Potter was hugely supportive of the National Trust's work in the area and she eventually left 4,000 acres of land and 14 farms to the charity in her will. A visit to any of these stunning attractions is sure to highlight why this National Park was such a magical and inspirational landscape for Beatrix Potter.

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Luci Ackers

Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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