Lakes, Starlings, High tea and William Wordsworth


As most of you will know by now, planning is nowhere near the top of my agenda when it comes to travel.

I prefer to simply take-off and see where the road leads me, altering and adjusting my direction as mood and circumstance dictate.

A few months ago, I did precisely that, I ‘took off’ on an (almost) whim, heading Nor-Nor-West towards the Islands & Highlands of Scotland. (I have written about some of that trip on Wild Geese already and shall be entertaining you with further tales, as soon as I get around to putting my pen to paper again).

I mentioned I am not great at planning; I find it too long winded, boringly tedious and, more often than not, incorrect once you physically arrive at a location, be that an airport, a remote woodland hideaway or a first-class hotel. Something you thought you had organised does not exist (anymore), or there are alterations ‘beyond our control’ and a plethora of other excuses, including the ‘recent closure’ of whatever it may be.

Anywayhow… I am not here to bemoan about inconsistency and poor communication, but rather to share with you the connection I have with the famous poet, William Wordsworth, regarding my journey ‘up-north’.

The one bit of planning I did, or rather my wife did, for the trip was to book a stopover in the Lake district, a small ‘Bed & Breakfast’ guest house where we would spend the first night. As it happens, she selected one called School House Cottage.

Unbeknown to us at the time of booking, this guest house holds a lot more than simply some bedrooms for tired travellers to sleep in.

It is a place with a significant history.

You see, this Bed & Breakfast holstery is in the cottage formerly known as Ann Tyson’s Cottage, it is now known simply as the School House Cottage, located, (strangely enough) in the grounds of the Grammar School in the small village of Hawkshead, Ambleside, Cumbria.


Hawkshead was originally owned by the monks of Furness Abbey. Hawkshead grew to be an important wool market in medieval times and later, as a market town after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1532.

It was granted its first market charter by King James I in 1608. In 1585, Hawkshead Grammar School was established by Archbishop Edwin Sandys of York, after he successfully petitioned Queen Elizabeth I for a charter to establish a governing body.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Hawkshead became a village of important local stature. Poet William Wordsworth was educated at Hawkshead Grammar School, whilst Beatrix Potter lived nearby, marrying William Heelis, a local solicitor, in the early 20th century.

Hawkshead has a timeless atmosphere and consists of a characterful warren of alleys, overhanging gables and a series of mediaeval squares. It is eloquently described in William Wordsworth’s poem The Prelude.

So, with a little literary licence, I can say I have followed in the footsteps of a great poet, or at least slept in the cottage where the headmasters of the grammar school resided during their tenure.

The School House Cottage is now run by Stephen and his wife Sharon, or should that be Sharon and her husband Stephen? No matter, the pair of them do a grand job of providing excellent hospitality along with great accommodation and a hearty breakfast, one fit for any hungry traveller.

Whether you plan to stay for just one night or a little longer, I suggest you book in advance of your journey, as this is a much sort after guest house.

Besides having rooms to let and serving an excellent breakfast, the School House Cottage offers wonderful afternoon tea in the well-manicured gardens. You can choose from a traditional English, treat yourself to an extravagant afternoon with champagne, or celebrate with friends. The choice is yours.


To book rooms or organise tea in the gardens, contact Stephen and Sharon at the School House Cottage via their website,

The School House is ideally situated between Lake Windermere and Coniston Waters, both picturesque and worth visiting. Another lake not too far away and one where I brewed up a cuppa on the shore is Esthwaite Waters, a smaller lake just north of Hawkshead, between the two larger lakes.

By the way, you may just be lucky, as my wife and I were, to witness an evening murmuration of Starling from the Old School House gardens, which was a wonderful sight and capped the end of a perfect day.


While you are here, feel free to browse my website, where you can see my books and other blogs and find out what I am working on just now. 


4 thoughts on “Lakes, Starlings, High tea and William Wordsworth

  1. What a wonderful trip! I very much enjoyed travelling with the two of you in my imagination. I can feel the charm and poetry of the places and people coming through your words. Did you see by chance Peter Rabbit ? Maybe he is still visiting the gardens in the area, waiting for Beatrix Potter to write about his endless adventures.


  2. Pingback: Meeting Michelangelo – Wild Geese

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