Half a mile from Hill Top, which is the home of Beatrix Potter, is the southernmost shore line of Esthwaite Water. Fringed with lily pads and reed beds, Esthwaite Water is a natural home to all things aquatic — indeed, the home of Jeremy Fisher!
Often she would walk down to the lake and along the shoreline to the historic boathouse, now a cafe and a centre for the work she did on Esthwaite Water.
The nature walk is half a mile long, finishing or starting at the cafe. Along the trail are storyboards of the animals Beatrix immortalised in the characters of Jeremy Fisher, Jemima Puddleduck, Squirrel Nutkin and more. The storyboards, written in English, inform the visitor about the animals in real life, and help the visitor engage with the young Beatrix’s relationships with the animals she used for her books.
The nature walk is special in that it takes the visitor through different habitats. It is only half a mile long, and provides a unique opportunity to enjoy the consciousness of a walking meditation, through the bluebells under the beech tree to the wood anemones under the coppice, over fungi on the dead wood and surrounded by the abundance of different mosses.
The yellow flowering lilies are clearly home to Jeremy! At the board-walk there is an opportunity to see behind a reed bed and the slow formation of terra firma with the encroachment of Alder Carr and birch, home to the resident otters.
Through the car park — a useful overflow to Hill Top — and along the parkland is the Boathouse and the Cafe on the Lake. Here, images of the osprey and the otters are on a video screen, along with cased examples of the underwater fish.
The gallery and Nature Lodge is an example of the sort of studio in which a young Victorian girl would have spent her time drawing and painting botanical subjects. This was very much a discipline, and it was for Beatrix Potter the beginning of her journey that culminated in her world-famous stories.
Botanical artwork courtesy of the Armitt Museum, Ambleside
Such a studio would be full of fungi, stuffed animals, pressed flowers and the fruits of trees.