Lakeland villages don’t come much more picturesque than Hawkshead, with its delightful huddle of cobbled streets, whitewashed pubs, arched alleys and rickety cottages. It’s hardly changed since the days when Wordsworth arrived here to attend the village school, and was once a bustling centre for the local wool trade; until the 12th century, the village was owned by the monastery at Furness Abbey. Cars are banned in the village centre throughout the year; sadly, the same can’t be said for tourist traffic.
You can almost imagine a young Wordsworth gazing out of the windows of the Hawkshead Old Grammar School (admission £2; 10.30am-12.30pm & 1.30-5.30pm Apr-Oct), which the young poet attended from 1779 to 1787 with his younger brother, John. Here Wordsworth would have studied the traditional classical curriculum (especially Latin and Greek), as well as mathematics, science and contemporary literature – he began writing his first poetry at the age of 14 while at Hawkshead. The ground-floor classroom still contains much of its original furniture (including a desk in which naughty young William carved his name) and upstairs you can visit the headmaster’s study and a small exhibition on the history of the school.
The Beatrix Potter Gallery (NT; 36355; Red Lion Sq; admission £3.60; 10.30am-4.30pm Sat-Wed Apr-Oct, open all week in Oct) contains lots of original illustrations from her children’s books, with an annually changing exhibition drawn from the National Trust’s Beatrix Potter collection. The museum is housed in the old offices of Beatrix’s husband, solicitor William Heelis. Entry is by timed ticket.