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We got up early on day five as we were on a mission: to visit one of the Lake District’s most popular attractions, described in the guidebook as “hellishly busy”. I was not going to be deterred and reasoned that it just required a bit of planning. I had emailed the ticket office in advance to establish what time they opened (the guidebook said 10:30 – hah! – they were open at 9:45). They don’t take bookings in advance and while the attraction has 100,000 visitors a year it has a carpark for 15 cars. They have a quota on the number of visitors per day, using timed tickets, and when they have reached their quota they close the attraction. Before we could get there though, we had to take the car ferry across the lake Windermere.

The ferry is that orange thing just to the right of the building. We were early enough to avoid any queues for the ferry – there’s little signs along the road towards the ferry giving you an idea of how long you will have to wait – the signs start at Two Hours and gradually lessen to Twenty Minutes.

It was another glorious day in the Lake District.

The ferry delivered us to the other side of the lake and then we drove for about fifteen minutes. We were the third car in the car park and second in line for tickets. What were we going to see?

Well, Peter Rabbit was there to greet us.


It was Hill Top – the seventeenth century farmhouse that belonged to Beatrix Potter. You can read more about it here. They don’t let you take photos inside but many of the interiors feature in the illustrations of her children’s books. We were first in when the doors opened and had a leisurely look around without any crowds. Mission accomplished! In your face tourists!

The cottage garden was lovely.

The farmland surrounding Hill Top just glorious.

The little village of Near Sawrey has just a handful of other buildings, some of which also feature in Potter’s books. Above is the old post office from The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan.

The Tower Bank Arms from The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck.

Anvil Cottage from The Tale of Samuel Whiskers.

Ginger and Pickles’ shop from The Tale of Ginger and Pickles.

Here’s the post box from Peter Rabbit’s Almanac.

Tom Kitten’s gate from The Tale of Tom Kitten.

By the time we left there were traffic jams, dangerous double parking, drivers abusing the poor National Trust man in the carpark and coaches beginning to arrive. Mark sometimes laughs at the military precision with which I tackle holidays, but I think he could see the value in it today.

We wandered next door to the Sawrey House Hotel and Tea Room and took in the idyllic setting while we sat outside eating scones and drinking tea.

The view was wonderful.

Then we drove to the village of Hawkshead.

This is Hawkshead Grammar, where William Wordsworth went to school.

St Michael’s Church dates back to the 1500s.

It has a commanding position on the top of a hill.

We continued on to a picturesque beauty spot called Tarn Hows.

And then we went to the town of Coniston, which sits on Coniston Water.

We lunched at this lakeside cafe.

On the way home that afternoon we stopped at Fell Foot Park on Windermere. By this time our Sat Nav has died but we weren’t too far from our apartment at that point. What’s more my MacBook Pro laptop had stopped working a day or two before, so this left us completely lost – no email, no internet, no Google maps, no updates from the cattery on Oliver and Ruby!

That evening we had a great dinner at The Punch Bowl Inn at Crosthwaite.

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