My first base in the Lake District was High Park Farm situated right at the Cumbria Way in the beautiful valley of Little Langdale. I couldn´t have hoped for a more scenic or cosy place with two amazing hosts who helped me plan my routes and see the most!
As many other cottages and areas in/of the Lake District, this one is owned by the National Trust, thanks to Beatrix Potter – a name I´ve mentioned a few times already.
Potter wrote and illustrated children’s books, best known for “The tale of Peter Rabbit” – I grew up with Paddington Bear and Christine Nöstlinger and only learned about Potter a few years ago when the movie about her life came out. She lived a lonely life growing up in London and spent a lot of time studying and drawing her pets. Growing up she came to the Lake District on holiday with her parents and felt in love with the with the unspoilt beauty of the area. Later on, some of her books were based on Derwentwater, Catbells and other places.
From 1903 on Potter started to buy land and farms,
In 1903 Beatrix bought a field in Near Sawrey, near where they had holidayed that year. She now had an income from her books, Peter Rabbit having now sold some 50000 copies. In 1905 she bought Hill Top, a little farm in Sawrey, and for the next 8 years she busied herself writing more books, and visiting her farm. In 1909 she bought another farm opposite Hill Top, Castle Farm, which became her main Lakeland base. Seven of her books are based in or around Hill Top. Tom Kitten and Samuel Whiskers lived there. Hill Top is still as it was then, and is now the most visited literary shrine in the Lake District. (Visitcumbria.com)
In 1913 she married William Heelis, a solicitor in Hawkshead and started the next phase of her life: being a Lakeland farmer for the next thirty years.
When she died on 22 December 1943, Beatrix Potter left fourteen farms and 4000 acres of land to the National Trust, together with her flocks of Herdwick sheep. The Trust now owns 91 hill farms, many of which have a mainly Herdwick landlord’s flock with a total holding of about 25000 sheep. This was her gift to the nation, her own beloved countryside for all to enjoy. Beatrix was the first woman to be elected president-designate of the Herdwick Sheepbreeders’ Association, which continues to flourish. (Visitcumbria.com)
There are quite a few Potter attractions to visit and I didn´t make it to any of them – I tried to visit at least the “World of Beatrix Potter” but the parking was so full that I postponed it for next time. At least I got to stay in one of her former cottages. And this was my window view!