Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hill Top

Hill Top was Beatrix Potter’s house. While I’ve read Beatrix Potter’s books to my sons and we learned on the tour we took that she was quite a force in the Lake District, she’s too “modern” for my Regency interests.  However, her house was around in the 17th century. Yippee!  Another old farmhouse to explore.

Hill Top is on the western side of Lake Windermere, so we had to take the ferry to get there. We walked down past Bowness pier to Ferry Nab, where the car ferry docks (which also takes pedestrians). While we waited for the ferry, we saw some of the marina.

boats lake windermere sailboats by ferry telephoto

and some passing swans.

swans lake windermere by ferry

We also watched a couple of the lake boats pass by on their way to and from Lakeside, one of the places we didn’t visit. But the boats that go there are the same ones we took.  Here’s the Teal—we sailed on her sister, the Swan.

Boats Lake Windermere Teal like Swan

And I think this is the Tern, which we did ride.

Boats Lake Windermere

If you’re interested in the lake boats, there’s more information here. Apparently the Tern is from the late 19th century, though retrofitted for the 21st. Still too modern for me!

Here comes the ferry.

Hill top ferry

Once we arrived at The Ferry House, Far Sawrey, we decided we’d best make a beeline—or as beeline-ish as possible in the Lake District—to Hill Top and save the hiking for later. Hill Top is quite small, so it has timed admissions.  I didn’t want to make the trip and then discover we couldn’t get in.

Hill Top is in Near Sawrey, a bit of a hike from Far Sawrey—clearly those naming the Sawreys weren’t measuring from Lake Windermere. (The Hill Top guidebook refers just to “Sawrey.”) But since this isn’t the height of the tourist season, we needn’t have worried about getting into the house. We arrived around noon and only had to wait about ten or fifteen minutes. We spent our waiting time in the garden. Here’s a shot of the house from the garden.

Hill Top from garden

It was hard to get a good picture.  Here’s Mr. M, but the part of the house directly behind him is not original, having been added by Ms. Potter.  It’s the ivy-covered bit on his left that’s of interest to me.

Hill top with Mr. M

And here is the more-interesting-to-me front. I try to avoid getting stray people in my pictures, but I wasn’t able to manage that this time.

hill top front of house

One of the most interesting—again, to me—things we learned was from a docent on the second floor of the house (the one who confirmed what the Townend docent had told us and who had seen the crank in a bedstand to tighten the rope mattress support). She showed us where rats had gnawed a hole in the floor and showed us the “short board” in the floor that the owners could lift.  They’d put a rat terrier into the space between the ceiling and the floor to catch the rats. Cool!

We also saw an interesting square piano—according to the guidebook, by Clementi, circa 1810—as well as any number of household items that my Regency characters might have encountered.  For those of you who are Beatrix Potter fans, the docent and the guidebook point to many places in the house and in the surrounding grounds that appear in her book illustrations. 

Here’s a video that gives you a peek inside and shows you how they put the house “to bed” for the off season.

After we toured Hill Top, we set off on our hike…our long hike.  (Yes, we got lost once again.)

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