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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 24 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: Oliver Berry

Alongside William Wordsworth, the Lake District’s other literary luminary is, of course, Beatrix Potter – celebrated for her charming anthropomorphic tales of rabbits, squirrels, hedgehogs and piglets, but also a hugely talented botanical painter and, later in her life, a passionate (and very knowledgeable) hill farmer.

Hill Top was the first house she bought in the Lake District, in 1905, largely financed with the proceeds from her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She lived happily here until 1913 before buying a larger house at nearby Castle Farm.

The house is littered with her belongings and furniture; true fans might also recognise a few scenes from her books, including The Tale of Tom Kitten and The Tale of Samuel Whiskers.

After her death in 1943, Beatrix Potter left the cottage – along with huge tracts of land, and numerous hill farms across the Lake District – to the National Trust.

Don’t miss

Having a wander around Mr MacGregor’s garden is huge fun if you’re a Potter fan – if you’re lucky, you might even get to chat to the head gardener.

While you’re there

Take the short walk over to Moss Eccles Tarn, a wild little mountain lake much loved by Beatrix, where she often used to sit and sketch, or go for picnics with her husband, solicitor William Heelis.

Also try the Tower Bank Arms next to Hill Top for tasty pub food. It also has the added cachet of having featured in Jemima Puddleduck.

Logistics

Price from: £15
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Parking can be a problem during busy times, so a good way to arrive is by catching the ferry across Windermere and either walking or cycling up to Hill Top from the landing stage at Far Sawrey, about a mile downhill from the cottage. The nearest bus currently stops in Hawkshead, from where a signed path runs all the way up to Hill Top.

Hill Top can only be visited by guided tour, which is best booked online well in advance of your visit. Booking online is essential at busy times unless you want to wait in long queues.

When to do it

Hill Top is open all year round, seven days a week, but with reduced opening times during the winter months (November-March).

Be aware that this is the number one tourist attraction in the Lake District. In high summer and during school holidays, it can be hellishly busy, so it is definitely worth coming at quieter times of year if you can.

Destination guides

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Lake District

Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)

beautiful landscape in the Lake District

Imposing mountains, wild landscapes, tranquil lakes and picturesque towns combine to make the Lake District uniquely beautiful, and one of the best places in Britain for walking, climbing, boating and biking.