Well done Unesco for honouring the culture of the Lake District

Wordsworth’s daffodils, Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons – Cumbria has been fertile ground for countless writers

The Lake District has just become the first UK national park to be listed as a Unesco World Heritage site, alongside global wonders such as the Great Wall of China and the Grand Canyon. It has been honoured for its culture as well as its landscape. William Wordsworth, perhaps the most celebrated local writer, called the area “a sort of national property in which every man has a right and interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy”. He was born in Cockermouth, lived in Grasmere and Rydal Mount, and found his daffodils on the shore of Ullswater.

Beatrix Potter is another famous chronicler of the Lakes, though she found her inspiration for Squirrel Nutkin and other characters on her childhood holidays there. She was also crucial to saving the local Herdwick sheep from extinction when she bought Hill Top farm.

Hill Top Farm, the former home of Beatrix Potter
Hill Top Farm, the former home of Beatrix Potter Photograph: Anna Gowthorpe/PA

The Lake District inspired Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, John Cunliffe’s Postman Pat and Melvyn Bragg’s The Soldier’s Return. It recently caught the imagination of Sarah Hall whose novel Haweswater is about a village drowned by the building of a reservoir and The Carhullan Army captures a group of rebel women who hide in the hills. But the words of Alfred Wainwright best evoke the area. “Always there will be the lonely ridge, the dancing beck, the silent forest; always there will be the exhilaration of the summits. These are for the seeking, and those who seek and find while there is still time will be blessed both in mind and body,” he wrote. That and: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” 


Katy Guest

The GuardianTramp

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