With each boasting mesmerising beauty and offering endless stunning views, the southern lakes of Coniston Water, Lake Windermere and Esthwaite Water are possibly the most popular locations with visitors to the Lake District.
We like to think it’s not only the scenery that drive drives their enduring appeal however, but also the wealth of attractions to visit in the area, including many of our Living Heritage attractions. Our friends at Lakeland Hideaways, who offer more than 60 places to stay in the southern Lakes, have put together this great guide to the fascinating heritage sites you can discover in this area.
Brantwood, Coniston water
A writer, artist and philosopher, John Ruskin was one of Coniston Water’s most famous citizens, and today visitors can get an insight into the man’s life and mind at his former home, the beautiful Brantwood. His home is packed with interesting treasures and works of art, which undoubtedly inspired his life’s work, while the acres of gardens, woods and pastures are a simply wonderful place to truly escape from it all.
Beatrix Potter Gallery, Hawkshead
Beloved author Beatrix Potter spent most of her life in the Lake District, with much of the wildlife and landscapes inspiring her stories, which have been loved by many generations. Found at the heart of the charming village of Hawkshead, set inside a 17 th century house, the Beatrix Potter Gallery exhibits several of her original drawings and watercolours, and this year celebrates the 150th anniversary of her birth.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Beatrix Potter before you visit, check out this guide.
Ruskin Museum, Coniston
Named after the previously-mentioned John Ruskin, this fascinating museum celebrates not only his achievements but many of the triumphs Coniston Water has seen throughout history. Take a trip back in time to explore the history of Coniston town, learn about how Donald Campbell broke several world speed records on the water and discover the places that inspired the classic book Swallows and Amazons.
Stott Park Bobbin Mill, Newby Bridge
Stott Park is a small working mill on the shores of Lake Windermere. Centuries ago it was vital to Lancashire’s thriving spinning and weaving industries, and today remains the area’s only working bobbin mill. Take a guided tour through the mill and learn how the bobbins were made using the traditional machinery on display, before buying your very own bobbin from the gift shop to take home.
Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House, Bowness-on- Windermere
The Arts and Crafts movement first emerged in the 1880s and quickly transformed the worlds of arts, design and architecture, drawing inspiration from traditional craftmanship. Blackwell is one of the best-preserved examples of an Arts and Crafts house today, filled with exhibits dedicated to those who once made this place their home. It continues to support the arts today as it also functions as a gallery, with exhibitions changing throughout the year.
Hill Top, Near Sawrey
Hill Top is one of the former homes of Beatrix Potter, set in the peaceful village of Near Sawrey. Today it is open to the public, and is filled with many of her personal possessions, giving visitors an insight into how she lived and why she fell in love with the Lake District. Outside, you can explore the cottage garden, where she spent much of her time tending to the vegetables, flowers and plants, and look out onto the inspiring countryside scenes that inspired many of her books.
Brockhole, Troutbeck Bridge
The Lake District’s official visitor centre, based on the shore of Lake Windermere, Brockhole is a hands-on day out for everyone, offering not only tourist information but also many adventure activities on-site. It does however also showcase some interesting heritage, with the house having been built in 1897, and the 10 acres of formal gardens still as spectacular today as when they were first crafted. Exhibitions are also regularly held at the centre telling stories of the Lake District’s history.
Holehird Gardens, Windermere
Funded by donations and cared for entirely by volunteers, the Holehird Gardens are a real testament to the local community. Seventeen acres of hillside garden are covered in a variety of trees, shrubs, plants and flowers, with the gardens also featuring a woodland water and pretty water features. The garden is also renowned for its stunning collections of hydrangeas, astilbes, daboecias, meconopsis and polystichum ferns.
The home of the influential Browne family for more than 300 years, this house is a real journey through the centuries, preserved as it would have looked during the Brownes’ residence. The interiors and furniture date from between 1626 and 1943, and feature some remarkable examples of carving, while the building itself is a great example of a traditional Lake District farmhouse.
Armitt Museum & Library, Ambleside
Founded in 1912 in the memory of Mary Louise Armitt, this small museum is dedicated to rare books and local antiquities, and is home to many hidden gems. Highlight include the impressive collection of artwork by Kurt Schwitters, who lived in Ambleside during his final years, and the exhibit ‘Beatrix Potter: Image and Reality’. This exhibit examines her watercolour paintings, and even features the desk she used to paint her artworks on.