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Reeds in Langdale Valley

10 Reasons Why Booklovers Love the Lakes

Here at GoLakes & Cumbria Tourism we’re partial to curling up with a good book. For years literature lovers have been coming to the Lake District, Cumbria, to have a quiet, relaxing holiday, and to catch up on their ‘to be read’ list. In no particular order, here are ten reasons why the county of Cumbria is the place to be for a bookworm.

1. Sedbergh: England’s Book Town

Books, books, books at Sedbergh

Sedbergh- Book Town

Can you imagine a small, rural town, filled with book shops and book lovers? Can you imagine being in a place that is proud to be for and run by bibliophiles? You’re imagining Sedbergh, England’s Booktown. This Cumbrian town on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales is a dream. One bookshop is a former cinema holding over 70,000 books! There are specialist booksellers, collectable booksellers, places selling popular fiction- as well as a plethora of sweet cafés where you can try to fulfil C S Lewis’s dream of a never-ending mug of tea and a book. They call it a Book Town. How wonderful is that?

2. Beautiful Ruins

Lowther Castle

Lowther Castle

Nothing sparks the imagination like a ruined castle standing proudly on a fell, looking over the valleys below, once a seat of power and defence, now a cracked shell, bare bones breaking the sky. A perfect spot to read a ghost story! Ruins are a between place, like the pages of a book, allowing your mind to slip through to somewhere else, somewhere not quite like the present.

3. Cosy fireside cottages (with window seats)

Blackwell Arts and Craft's House

Brockhole Arts and Crafts House

Many bookworms have a taste for old cottages, and in the Lake District there are hundreds of charming buildings full of character and window seats that make the perfect reading nooks. Imagine curling up in your flannel pyjamas, looking out at the twilight landscape through the window. You are warmed by a blazing fire and a large mug of tea, curling your toes into a cushion, as you settle down to read, and read, and read. (If you’d like to look at some of the Lake District, Cumbria’s many holiday cottages you can look here.)

4. Swallows and Amazons

Windermere

Windermere

Arthur Ransome’s story of daring children spending a summer playing and sailing is set in the Lake District. The author said that every place in his book could be found in the Lakes, although the book chopped the geography about and blended one area with another. The Lake in the book is based on Windermere- whilst the tempting Wild Cat Island was inspired by Peel Island in Coniston and Blakeholme in Windermere. Walk around the Lakes- or hire a boat yourself, and you too can imagine you’re taking part in a fantastic adventure.

5. Wordsworth (and the Romantic Poets)

Dove Cottage

Dove Cottage

“Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.” Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley- whether they loved the Lakes or not, the Romantic poet’s history is entwined with views of the Lake District. Walking through the dramatic mountains, the wilder fells, the strange, lush valleys, you begin to understand why. Dorothy Wordsworth, William Wordsworth’s sister (and fine writer in her own right who often inspired her brother’s work), loved the countryside as much as her brother, but as you explore, spare some admiration for her since she did many of these walks 200 years ago- wearing a corset. Personally, I’d rather her than me! You can visit the grave of William Wordsworth, or perhaps head to Dove Cottage to learn more about the ‘Lake Poets.’

6. Pretend to be a romantic protagonist

Rydal Water

Rydal Water

On that note, Gothic & Romantic Heroines and Heroes are always deeply tied to the landscapes and buildings around them. If you want to understand how the drama in the land can echo your own thoughts or feelings, just take a walk through Cumbria’s spectacular landscape. You will begin to feel like you could be the protagonist in a novel yourself! The mountains, ghylls, fells, rivers, costs and histories of Cumbria will kindle your imagination. Feel it pour into your mind’s eye, adding vividness to the landscape of the stories you read as they take on the shape of the mountains.

7. Beatrix Potter

Hill Top- home of Beatrix Potter

Hill Top

Did you learn to read from Beatrix Potter’s stories? If Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck, and Squirrel Nutkin littered your childhood, then you’ll be delighted to experience the county that Beatrix Potter loved so much. Visit her home, Hill Top Farm and explore the land she bought and protected. In her will she left much of her lands to the National Trust, and it’s down to her love of the Lake District that so much is preserved today. Did you know she was also a prize-winning breeder of Herdwick sheep? So if you see any whilst you’re out and about, be sure the give them a hello from her!

8. Bookshops, bookshops everywhere- and yes, a book to read

The Bookeresller, Sedbergh

Sedbergh

There are lots of bookshops in the Lake District, Cumbria. A lot. It’s wonderful. Small, independent bookshops can be found in almost every town, selling everything from brand new popular fiction, to dusty old tomes by long forgotten writers. No matter where you choose to base your stay, you will not be far from an interesting bookshop, so if you’re stressing out deciding which books you should bring with you on your journey- you can always just buy more (your welcome for me giving you an excuse) and if you don’t want to cart them back with you, keep an eye out for local book exchange areas where you can leave your books as a gift to your fellow bookish explorers.

9. Be inspired by the same thing as George RR Martian

Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall

In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, George RR Martian said that the famous wall in his ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series was inspired by his visit to Hadrian’s Wall. Feel a shadow of that inspiration yourself as you try to imagine what it was like for the Roman Soldiers from all corners of the world to stand here- in a land that would have been strange and alien to them. From Bowness-on-Solway to Carlisle, Hadrian’s Wall cuts through the top of Cumbria, bringing with it the awe inspiring knowledge you are walking along the largest Roman artefact.

10. Write your own

Time to write

Could this be you?

Away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life, you can tell the story you always wanted to. With the landscape and history to inspire you, you can give yourself time to just write, write, and write. Then maybe one day we’ll be adding your name to the list of greats who were inspired by this truly precious corner of the world?

A holiday reading and writing in the fells- could you ask for anything more? This winter we have lots of special offers on places to stay (and folks who book through us get a free Golakes card for even more savings too!)

 Check out the offers here 

Are you a bookworm who loves the Lake District, Cumbria too? Let us know what your favourite bookish thing about the lakes are across social media using #theplacetobe.

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Written by Alice Lawrence

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