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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 10 November, 2022
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.

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.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Linthwaite House Hotel

Windermere, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[3.7 miles]

Cool, elegant country house, with superb food and views, in an almost unbeatable location close to Lake Windermere and Ambleside.

Official star rating:

Gilpin Hotel & Lake House

Windermere, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[5.8 miles]

Classic Lakeland luxury with a contemporary twist – along with a Michelin-starred restaurant – make the Gilpin one of the region’s top hotels.

Official star rating:

The Samling

Windermere, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[7.1 miles]

A charming, cosy boutique hotel, perched on a private hillside on a 67-acre estate, with an excellent restaurant and grandstand views across Lake Windermere.

Official star rating:

Brimstone Hotel & Spa

Great Langdale, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[10.6 miles]

The Lakeland version of a deluxe ski lodge, offering supremely plush rooms, a lavish spa and a very private location on a Langdale estate. It’s also adults-only – making this an ideal place for couples looking for a place to pamper themselves.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Lake District

Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)

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.

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Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

Rydal Mount

Rydal, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[10.8 miles]

Wordsworth’s grand family home between Ambleside and Grasmere is an essential stop: it’s full of memorabilia, and offers an intriguing glimpse of the Wordsworth family’s daily life in the Lakes.

Best for ages: 18+ | £5

Dove Cottage (& Wordsworth Museum)

Grasmere, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[11.8 miles]

Take a guided tour around Wordsworth’s charming cottage near Grasmere to get a fascinatingly personal insight into the poet’s life and times – and don’t miss the brilliant museum next door.

Best for ages: 180+ | £12

Walk up Scafell Pike

Wasdale, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[19.4 miles]

Climb up to the highest point in England for a memorable view of the Wasdale fells – and a special sense of achievement. But don’t expect to be on your own if the weather’s fine

Best for ages: 13+ | Free | Full day

Underground tours of Honister Mine

Keswick, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[23.1 miles]

Venture underground into the dark mines under Honister Pass to discover the history of Lakeland slate mining – and, if you’re feeling brave, tackle an underground climbing expedition.

Best for ages: 3+ | £18

Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

Lady staring at a painting by Beatrix Potter, at the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead, Cumbria. Beatrix Potter's original artwork on display in a 17th-century house.

Beatrix Potter Gallery

Hawkshead, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[3.2 miles]

This small gallery in Hawkshead is located in the old office of Beatrix Potter’s husband, solicitor William Heelis. It holds regular exhibitions of her work, including her beautiful botanical paintings.

Best for ages: 10+ | £7 | 3 hours

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Overview >
Exterior of a large white house


Troutbeck, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[7.6 miles]

This traditional stone and slate farmhouse was home to local famers the Browne family for over 400 years. The house and family’s possessions have been preserved, showcasing rural life in the Lakes over the past centuries.

Best for ages: 18+ | £9 | 3 hours

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Exterior of the brewery

Hawkshead Brewery

Kendal, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[10.4 miles]

The best-known of some fantastic craft breweries in the region. It has a brilliant beer hall at its main site in Staveley, where you can also take a guided tour to learn more about the brewing process

Best for ages: 18+ | Free | 3 hours

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