We were looking forward to visiting the Lakeland home of the children’s author and artist, Beatrix Potter and discovering more about her life. We already knew she was far more than just the author of the Peter Rabbit series of books. She was a farmer, conservationist and wildlife artist and generous donor of land to the National Trust.
We followed narrow lanes to the village of Near Sawrey and squeezed the car into a tiny car park and purchased our timed tickets. Hill Top is very popular but also tiny so the National Trust have instigated a timed ticket system. A short wander through the village and we walked through a gate to find a blackboard with a lovely welcoming message chalked on it.
We walked up the long garden path towards the cottage itself.
The front of Hill Top was swathed in scented, white flowered Wisteria which brightened up its drab grey finish. Borders of typical cottage garden plants sat on both sides of the front porch. The cottage was originally a farmhouse built in the 17th Century and bought by Beatrix in 1905 using the proceeds from her first published book, the one and only “Tales of Peter Rabbit. The cottage featured in her children’s books.
Photography was not allowed in the cottage itself but walking from room to room it felt as if we were seeing it just as if Beatrix Potter had just popped into the garden to cut some flowers. Letters she had written were awaiting an envelope on her writing bureau and drawings and paintings were sat on her desk. Furniture seen by thousands of children for over a hundred years in illustrations in her Peter Rabbit series of books were in every room.
We moved back outside into the sunshine and found the little vegetable garden well known as the garden of Mr MacGregor. Hazel bean poles and an old wheelbarrow and watering cans seemed so familiar.
From the vegetable garden we gained great views of the cottage.
We wandered back down the sloping garden path and enjoyed the cottage garden flowers with their bright colours and rich scents.
When Beatrix Potter died she left 14 farms and their land plus sheep that grazed on it to the National Trust. Since then the National Trust have continued to purchase large areas of the Lake District which helps keep it such a beautiful place for all to enjoy.
Wherever you go in the Lake District you see Herdwick Sheep grazing in the fields from lowland fields to upland fell sides. Beatrix Potter helped prevent this local and specially adapted breed of sheep from becoming extinct. She was the first female President of the Herdwick Sheep Society.
After visiting Hill Top we wandered back through the village and in a front garden we noticed a scarecrow based on Mr MacGregor. The villagers are obviously proud of their most famous past resident.