The cottage is one of the properties that were left to the National Trust when Beatrix died and she was very specific about how it should be presented. Described as a 17th century time-capsule of her life, the cottage features everything that she owned with very few replicas (namely the carpets which need to be replaced every 5-6 years and the kitchen wallpaper which fades).
When we arrived we’d done a fair bit of walking and had been pleased to admire Near Sawrey on our approach. Keen to ensure we had plenty of time to look around, we paid our £10 entry (each) and had a wander around the house and garden.
The garden is wonderfully pristine; complete with rabbits bounding around and lovely bright Spring flowers making their first appearance of the year. As you reach the house via the stone path you can’t help but feel you’ve seen the cottage before, and I think most of us will have because a lot of the television and film adaptations of Beatrix’s stories have used the cottage as a location.
As we walked around the house, trying to take everything in, there were copies of different stories laid out in the rooms to highlight the associations between the room and the story. The cottage isn’t where Beatrix lived but it is somewhere that she wrote a number of the stories and the hole in the floorboard which inspired The Tale of Samuel Whiskers was pointed out to us as we looked around.
Whilst we walked around the first floor we met a couple of National Trust staff who were bursting to tell us more about Beatrix, her family and the items in the cottage. There’s a variety of images and paintings scattered around the rooms, some of which Beatrix had illustrated, some were by her father, a number of paintings were by her brother Bertram and others were from local auctions. The staff told us a little more about some of the different pieces and any stories behind them that they thought would be of interest.
One thing that struck me as we walked around was that whilst Beatrix’s family were wealthy enough to have plenty of time to learn their crafts, it’s still astounding to see how talented the entire family were.
We really enjoyed out trip to Hill Top and made sure we popped into the gift shop before we left for a little token of our trip. We were very lucky with the weather too (we’d left the guest house without jackets and would have been very soggy if the weather had taken a turn for the worst whilst we were over the other side of the lake).
My only comment would be that the staff who we bought our entry tickets from were a little too pushy at trying to get us to buy a National Trust membership.
To get there we travelled on the seasonal ferry from Bowness Pier 3 (a cost of 50p each way) and then followed the off-road path to Hill Top. The journey there involves a fair bit of uphill walking and feels quite long but it’s a lot nicer on the way back!