Wordsworth’s Wonderful Lakeland

Wordsworth’s Wonderful Lakeland

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’.

Wordsworth’s Grasmere

Painting of William Wordsworth

‘Embrace me then, ye Hills, and close me in;
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.

”Home at Grasmere’

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.

Wordsworth's Dove Cottage, Grasmere
A rare quiet moment at Dove Cottage, Grasmere where Wordsworth wrote many of his poems.

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
Shaft of sunlight in Great Langdale

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
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.

‘A little Unpretending Rill’
Grasmere Lake
Grasmere from Loughrigg Terrace photo wikimedia commons

Fell Walking

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.

Buttermere Lake
Buttermere Lake with Haystacks in the background – Alfred Wainwright’s favourite place.
Alfred Wainwright

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

Thank you for joining me in this wonderful place. If you’re interested I recommend podcasts 2 and 5 in the series about Wordsworth from the British Library.

Here is my previous Lakeland post.

Next time Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journal

15 thoughts on “Wordsworth’s Wonderful Lakeland

    1. Thanks Tina. I hope all is well at your end and that you’re finding plenty to do under lockdown. We’re mainly confined to our garden here, but my memory can still roam those lovely hills again!

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    1. Thank you. Happily in these troubled times we may be locked-down, but our memories are still free. Lovely Lakeland is worth dreaming about and Wordsworth’s poetry always brings healing calm.

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  1. What a pleasure to momentarily wallow in the beauty and poetry of the Lake District. I have several memories – porridge for breakfast in a hotel overlooking Haweswater – climbing up to Watendlath Tarn and up to Hellvelyn ridge which was a little scary. Happy days. God bless

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  2. That’s a coincidence, Richard – I have a guest writer over on ABAB, extolling the virtues of various walks. Must admit, I was not a fan of Wordsworth when at school; I found ‘The Prologue’ excruciating. But my first impressions of the Lakes have stuck with me.

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    1. Sadly, being made to look at poetry at school has put many people off. Re-discovering Wordsworth in later years can be a much richer experience. I’m glad Lakeland still impresses you, Mike. There can’t be many for whom it doesn’t. Unless they’ve had a very wet stay there!

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  3. We studied Wordsworth at school and I was struck then about the way he talked about nature and how we become less attuned to it as we grow older. It must have been a good existence to roam the hills and lakes and write about them!

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    1. Is it because we have lost touch with the natural world outside? As youngsters we were out there most of the time. Sadly, too many children today only experience screens. I think the Wordsworths’ simple life at Dove Cottage was far from easy as Dorothy’s journal seems to imply.

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