About Wordsworth’s Lakeland people say “You may leave the Lake District, but once you’ve been, it’ll never leave you…” His unforgettable poetry rings through these hills and dales and over this lovely Grasmere lake – ‘The loveliest spot that man hath ever found’.
‘Embrace me then, ye Hills, and close me in;”Home at Grasmere’
Now in the clear and open day I feel
Your guardianship; I take it to my heart;
‘Tis like the solemn shelter of the night…….
Dear Valley, having in thy face a smile
Though peaceful, full of gladness. Thou art pleased,
Pleased with thy crags and woody steeps, thy Lake,
Its one green island and its winding shores;
The multitude of little rocky hills,
Thy Church and cottages of mountain stone
Clustered like stars some few, but single most
And lurking dimly in their shy retreats.‘
Reading Wordsworth’s poetry you sense you are talking with a wise friend, an inspiring gentle spirit and a deep lover of the natural world. He is a wonderful guide to these beloved Lakeland hills. He had eyes for beauty in the landscape and he noticed the little things. We feel with him as he walks with his eyes open, his heart ready and responsive to nature’s sights, sounds and gentle nudges. This is poetry of the heart as well as the landscape.
The Lakeland Poets
These crags and hills are clothed with tarns, rills and becks. In the quiet dales and beside their peaceful lakes it’s hard not to be a creative writer and poet here. The magic of these fells casts a spell over visitors as it did to Wordsworth, Coleridge, Ruskin, Southey and others. Rarely has a place inspired and been loved by so many people.
‘With respect to my Poems, trouble not yourself upon their present reception; of what moment is that compared with what I trust is their destiny, to console the afflicted, to add sunshine to daylight by making the happy happier, to teach the young and the gracious of every age, to see, to think and feel.’William Wordsworth
Life is made up of small things and apparently insignificant moments, like this evening shaft of sunlight in beautiful Great Langdale. In the distance are Crinkle Crags and Bowfell, to the right stand the Langdale Pikes. Several Wordsworth poems are about special moments and special places. After a day out walking the fells, he and Dorothy stopped to rest by an insignificant little hillside rill and experienced, in an unforgettable moment of bliss, ‘the immortal Spirit of one happy day.’
There is a little unpretending rill‘A little Unpretending Rill’
Of limpid water, humbler fair than aught
That ever among Men or Naiads sought
Notice of name! – It quivers down the hill,
Furrowing its shallow way with dubious will;
Yet to my mind this scanty Stream is brought
Oftener than Ganges or the Nile; a thought
Of private recollection sweet and still!
Months perish with their moons; year treads on year;
But, faithful Emma! thou with me canst say
That while ten thousand pleasures disappear,
And flies their memory fast almost as they;
The immortal Spirit of one happy day
Lingers beside that Rill, in vision clear.
It’s not always sunny in Lakeland as every visitor soon discovers! This is the wettest place in England. But these gentle hills take on a different form of beauty when the mists hang over the summits, adding a sense of mystery and grandeur. To be on a fell as the cloud swirls about you is a dramatic moment.
My first day in Lakeland was after a very rainy night. I remember hearing the roar of rills pouring down the surrounding hillsides. Moments like this remain in the memory. It was my father who introduced me to hill walking in the fells around Ullswater, Eskdale, Coniston, Great Langdale and Wastwater.
Thousands flock to Lakeland drawn irresistibly by the mountains, dales, lakes and by Wordsworth’s poetry. But as these recent photos show if you leave the crowded beauty-spots and take to the hills, there is still peace there.
As well as an Ordnance Survey map, many walkers in the hills of Lakeland carry in their rucksack a copy of the relevant Wainwright pictorial guide.
‘The fleeting hour of life of those who love the hills is quickly spent, but the hills are eternal. Always there will be the lonely ridge, the dancing beck, the silent forest; always there will be the exhilaration of the summits. These are for the seeking, and those who seek and find while there is still time will be blessed both in mind and body.’Alfred Wainwright
Next time Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journal