This past weekend we decided to visit some of the local tourist sites.  Normally I’m more focused on getting out on walks, runs and bike rides, but with an injured husband, an injured dog and the threat of Storm Freya, it seemed like an ideal time to do something a little more leisurely.

First port of call (and it is slightly embarrassing to admit that we’ve not already visited) was Hill Top, the home of Beatrix Potter.  Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top in 1905 and it has been preserved by the National Trust as if she had “just stepped out for a walk”.  The staff were all incredibly knowledgeable and engaging and offered a little insight into the world of Beatrix Potter.  This is an extremely popular attraction, where you are normally allocated a time to visit the house (I imagine to ensure that it doesn’t get too crowded!) but we’re in the off-season so could go straight in, and we virtually had the house to ourselves!  It’s incredible to see the items left so well-preserved, and astonishing to see how small her bed was, and her slippers, which were minute (this coming from a girl with size 3 feet!)  The National Trust provide you with a little map, which illustrates some of the places which were of inspiration to her books and characters and takes you on a little meander through the chocolate-box village of Sawrey.

In stark contrast we then visited Blackwell, and it was interesting to compare the small 17th Century Farm Cottage to the grand spaces of Blackwell.  Designed by renowned architect Mackay Hugh Baille Scott and completed in 1901 it embraces the Arts & Crafts movement and displays furniture and objects by leading designers and studios of this movement.  It currently showcases an exhibition by The Rusland Movement, and their unique and contemporary pieces don’t look out of place in such an historic setting.   I desired every single item, so beautifully handcrafted, and with such attention to detail.  Blackwell is exquisite in its detail, from the intricate carvings on the wood panelling to the views!  There’s a permanent exhibition of Blackwell’s time as a school which began in 1941, and I loved the photos of the children ice-skating on a self-made ice rink and doing gymnastics in the Main Hall, what a wonderful place to escape from the threat of war. It continued to be a school until 1976.

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Finally, tired from all the learning and, like true tourists, it was time for tea and cake, so we headed back to Ambleside, to The Apple Pie shop for a Bath Bun and an Eccles cake.  It was interesting to visit these places, to know that there is more to the Lake District then the fells and lakes, and I now have quite a long list of other tourist attractions…although next weekend I’m definitely getting out on the bike…!

(If you’re interested in learning about the Rusland Movement, then why not join our Short Break for Collectors, which not only has a private visit to the Rusland Movement but lots of other fascinating visits and talks.  Go to https://rothaymanor.co.uk/special-interest/ )