Nestled at the base of a broad valley dotted with oak woods and peaceful fields, and overlooked by the domed peaks of Helm Crag and Steel Fell, the little village of Grasmere is one of the prettiest in the Central Lakes. Wordsworth lived at nearby Dove Cottage for nine years and occasionally taught at the village school, which is now a famous gingerbread shop; he’s buried under the yew trees of St Oswald’s churchyard with his wife Mary and beloved sister Dorothy. Sadly, the Wordsworth connections have their drawbacks; the village is very much on the coach-tour trail, and is practically overrun with day-trippers in summer.
Wordsworth penned some of his greatest poems at Dove Cottage (35544; www.wordsworth.org.uk; adult £5.95; 9.30am-5.30pm). The building served as an inn called The Hope and Olive until 1793; Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy moved in six years later, to be joined in 1802 by William’s new wife Mary and the three eldest Wordsworth children – John, Dora and Thomas – who were born in 1803, 1804 and 1806. Covered with climbing roses and illuminated by tiny latticed windows, it’s a fascinating and atmospheric place to visit, although it can get very busy. An entertaining half-hour guided tour is included in the admission price, and entry is managed by timed tickets to avoid overcrowding.
Next door, the new Wordsworth Museum houses a fascinating collection of letters, portraits and manuscripts relating to the Romantic movement.