Grasmere, Wordsworth and the Lake District – Part 3

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Dove Cottage at Grasmere

We were in the Lake District on the Coast to Coast Walk across England, a 307 km journey. We were visiting Dove Cottage, one of Wordworth’s home. Read on:

Around this time the five Wordsworth children were born in the Lake District and the second eldest, William was to leave an indelible mark on English poetry. The middle three children, William, Dorothy and John were to maintain a close family bond throughout their lives.

In 1789 the hated Bastille prison in Paris was stormed and the French Revolution declared. Wordsworth had always enjoyed the hills and rivers of his native land, and in 1790, when he was twenty, embarked on a walking tour of Europe with a friend. This was the era of the Grand Tour, when young men of society travelled to view the great sites of Europe.
 
William and his friend walked from Lyons, climbed Mont Blanc, continued on to the Alps and across to Lake Como. Wordsworth was a tireless walker, often covering forty miles in a day. They made their way back to Switzerland and steered a boat down the Rhine to Cologne and walked through Belgium to Calais.

Then returned to college life at Cambridge. For the next decade, Wordsworth would walk many miles in appreciation of nature and his search for man’s relationship with it.

William rejoined his sister Dorothy and brother John after a separation years earlier. Dorothy remained an integral part of Wordsworth’s close entourage until the end. They travelled with Coleridge, another renowned poet, to Germany where William and Dorothy undertook a long journey through the Harz Mountains.
 
The Napoleonic Wars impeded many writers, artists and travellers from completing their Grand Tour of the continent, but as compensation, they discovered a set of  “English Alps” in the Lake District.

In 1799 Wordsworth toured the district with Coleridge, and came upon an old disused inn “The Dove and Olive Branch” in Grasmere, which thanks to an inheritance a few years previously, enabled him to rent the inn and so continue his literary career.

The name of the inn was a biblical reference to the dove, which returned to Noah’s ark carrying an olive branch after the flood. The name was shortened to “Dove Cottage” and William and Dorothy settled there. Life at the cottage became quite full, with William’s marriage to his childhood sweetheart, Mary, children and countless visitors. The entourage eventually had to move to larger quarters.

We found the way to our own quarters, delightful accommodation just out of town, later dining at the Travellers Inn. So much history in Walking across England.

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