Romantic poet William Wordsworth was born 250 years ago today, on April 7, 1770, in England’s lovely Lake District, a region he immortalized in verse.

For literary wanderers who have the Lake District on their bucket list for future travels, there are three Wordsworth landmarks to visit in this strikingly scenic region. A terrific book to read before venturing there is HOME AT GRASMERE, which combines excerpts from Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal with a selection of her brother’s poems. Dorothy vividly describes their everyday life at Dove Cottage in Grasmere, and the surrounding landscape of the Lake District, providing context for Wordsworth’s verse. (Or, if you’re looking for something to read while staying put during the pandemic, the book makes for nicely escapist reading.)

Wordsworth House and Garden
Cockermouth, Cumbria

Wordsworth, who composed much of his poetry on foot and is said to have walked more than 175,000 miles in his lifetime, was born in a two-story Georgian town house alongside the River Derwent. The poet’s lifelong love of nature began in his “sweet childish days,” which were spent exploring his family’s backyard garden and scrambling down its Terrace Walk to play on the banks of his “fairest of all rivers.” Memories of the poet’s early years feature heavily in his verse. Today the Wordsworth home re-creates the atmosphere of his middle-class Georgian childhood with period furnishings and tours given by costumed guides.

Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum
Grasmere, Cumbria

After many years spent wandering, Wordsworth returned to the Lake District in November 1799 on a “picturesque tour” with his sister, Dorothy, and their good friend, poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
While at Grasmere, a tiny village nestled beside a glittering lake—“the loveliest spot that man hath ever found”—the poet spotted Dove Cottage (photo above right), a vacant inn then known as the Dove and Olive Branch. The simple stone house with a slate roof became his and Dorothy’s “nest in a green dale” for the next decade. Among the intriguing objects on display in an adjacent museum is the original draft of Wordsworth’s famed poem “Daffodils.”

Rydal Mount and Gardens
Rydal, Cumbria

After a decade of profitable writing, Wordsworth moved with his sister, wife, and children into a spacious 16th-century Tudor house near Grasmere. By the time Wordsworth took up residence at Rydal Mount, he was famous, and tourists would peep in the windows trying to catch a glimpse of him. Wordsworth was most welcoming to his eager fans, though, often chatting with them as they strolled by his house and sometimes even showing them around the terraced gardens he designed.

 

[Photo of Dove Cottage © The Wordsworth Trust; other photos © Novel Destinations]