“I wandered lonely as a cloud/ that floats on high o’er vales and hills/When all at once I saw a crowd/A host, of golden daffodils”
If these words spark your romantic imagination and thoughts of wanderlust, then the Lake District in northwest England may be a prime candidate for your next journey.
This snippet of poetry was penned by the romantic poet William Wordsworth in the early 19th century. Wordsworth made his home in the Lake District and immortalized the tranquility and natural beauty of the region in his verse. Numerous hiking trails wind through a cluster of lakes, villages and “fells” (the local word for mountain — although the local “mountains” are quite modest in height) that offered contemplative insights to Wordsworth on his daily walks.
These well-marked trails appeal to both connoisseurs of English literature and non-literary types who simply enjoy hiking. You can pick up a trail map and plan out your journey or simply wander aimlessly and enjoy the “bliss of solitude.”
I stayed in the pleasant village of Grasmere, Wordsworth’s hometown, and embarked on several of the many hikes that connect it to neighboring villages.
Life here has not changed a great deal in 200 years. The Lake District National Park was formed in 1951 to protect the area from excessive commercialization and exploitation. One can pause and chat with a local farmer whose family has held the same plot of land for generations or simply enjoy the scenic beauty and quiet inspiration that these walks provide. You’ll pass alongside ancient stone walls, picturesque lakes, rolling moorland, flocks of sheep, open meadows bursting with wildflowers, and even the occasional waterfall.
Wordsworth’s two residences are open to the public and provide an insightful link to the Romantic era. Rydal Mount, the palatial residence of his later years, includes a well-maintained garden that exemplifies Wordsworth’s love of nature. I preferred the humble Dove Cottage of his early years, which seems more emblematic of the era.
Bring raingear, as wet weather is typical throughout the year. I found the shifting weather patterns a welcome change from the homogenous weather of Southern California. And keep an eye out for the daffodils!