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Lake District Towns and Villages

Hawkshead in the Lake District National Park

Hawkshead, situated midway between Coniston and Ambleside, at the head of Esthwaite Water, has changed relatively little since William Wordsworth attended the little grammer school. It's patchwork of whitewashed cottages, alleys, cobbles, courtyards and archways backed by woods and fells has made it a popular place for day trippers but the huge car parks and large lakeland stores are at the village egde and traffic is banned from the centre.

Many of the present buildings date back to the 17th century but Hawkshead history goes much further back. In medieval times it was an important wool market with trade controlled by the monks of Furness Abbey. Hawkshead couthouse, sited half a mile north of the village, stands as a reminder of monastic times. After the dissolution of the monastries it grew as a market town, it's first charter granted by James 1.

The grammer school which Wordsworth and his brother Richard attended, dates back to 1585 and is open to the public. Wordworth's name is carved on a desk in the school. He lodged for a while with a local woman, Ann Tyson, whose cottage is still standing in the centre of the village and now a guest house.

The 15th century parish church of St Michael boasts wall frescoes, but it's main charm is it's position on a knoll overlooking the village. One gets a good view of the Village's twin central squares, anchored by several pubs and cafes.

The Beatrix Potter Gallery in the centre of the village is extremely popular. Owned by the National Trust, it has changing displays of her work, original drawings and information about her life as author, artist, farmer and pioneer of the conservation movement. During her lifetime she bought 18 fell farms and large parcels of Lake District land, which she bequeathed to the trust on her death.

There are plenty of nice waks in the area. To the north-west of Hawkshead is Tarn Hows, one of lakelands top beauty spots, with a gently walk around the tarn itself.

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