Wordsworth in the Landscape

This summer the Wordsworth Trust partnered with the Lake District National Park Authority for a series of walks in the landscape that inspired Wordsworth and his poetry.  Here Belinda Turnbull and Mike O’Donoghue from the National Park Authority tell us a bit more about the project and its role in the exciting bid for the Lake District to become a World Heritage site.

How does Britain’s best loved poet link to our World Heritage bid?
Our spectacular landscape, with its unique beauty, has inspired poets and artists like William Wordsworth, and continues to inspire the millions who visit here each year.  Wordsworth famously described the Lake District as ‘a sort of national property’ which he believed every person ‘had a right to enjoy’.
We believe the Lake District deserves worldwide recognition. That’s why in 2017 we will bid for World Heritage Site status, placing the Lake District alongside the Taj Mahal, the Tower of London and the Great Barrier Reef.
We believe that Wordsworth’s legacy helps support our bid to demonstrate why this cultural landscape deserves global recognition.  To help more people discover it too, volunteer guides have teamed up with the Wordsworth Trust to deliver a special series of World Heritage guided walks.

A source of artistic inspiration
Along with the other Lake Poets who were attracted to the area, Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy wrote poetry that was directly inspired by the landscape and its inhabitants. These writings helped set the scene for the early conservation movement and the formation of the National Trust.
Our Wordsworth walks and talks will help you discover more about this fascinating and important man and the people who influenced his life.

Volunteer walk leaders Mark, Sylvia and Graham with curator Jeff Cowton at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere.

Pages from one of Dorothy’s journals.


Here’s how walk leader Mike O’Donoghue describes how volunteers and the Wordsworth Trust have worked together:
For some visitors to the Lake District National Park the area is synonymous with Wordsworth. But while many may be familiar with his poetry, especially the poem commonly known as “Daffodils”, few may know much about the special places that inspired him.
The new walks introduced earlier this year and which are led by National Park volunteers take place in Hawkshead, Grasmere and Ullswater and visit places of significance to William and Dorothy, including the site of the daffodils which inspired the most famous poem in the English language, I wandered lonely as a cloud at Gowbarrow Park on 15 April 1802.

I and other interested volunteer guides have been supported by the Wordsworth Trust at Dove Cottage to develop these walks. Curator Jeff Cowton has provided us with valuable information. We were also given access to manuscripts of his writings and one of the original diaries written by Dorothy.


Mike with trainees Charlotte and Simon from the Wordsworth Trust

A commentary for the walks was created with help from trainees from the Wordsworth Trust. The marriage of these notes to their related places and landscape helps leaders bring Wordsworth to life.


There are four different walk routes for you to enjoy:

  • A Host of Daffodils: See the daffodils by the shores of Ullswater which inspired Wordsworth’s most famous poem.
  • In the Footsteps of Wordsworth: Take a ride on an Ullswater steamer from Glenridding to the legendary Aira Force waterfall and return along the lake shore.
  • Wordsworth’s Hawkshead: Explore the village where Wordsworth spent much of his childhood while studying at Hawkshead Grammar School.
  • Wordsworth’s Grasmere:Discover the village Wordsworth chose to call home – see the places he lived and wrote about and visit his grave in the churchyard.

These walks, which were introduced in April, have been very popular with visitors of all ages (so make sure you get to the start early for these ‘just turn up’ events). There are more running throughout the season (until October) and we will be repeating them again in 2017 when we will also learn if we’ve been successful in our World Heritage bid.

Join us in our bid to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site
You can help celebrate the identity, inspiration and conservation of the Lake District by supporting the #lakedistrictbid.
Show your support and back the bid for World Heritage status by adding your vote to this website: lakesworldheritage.co.uk