Once a bustling Medieval market town, Hawkshead is now a vibrant destination capturing the essence of the Lake District.

It’s a picture-perfect Lakeland town where time seems to stand still – the car-free village centre adds to its unique charm and makes meandering through its narrow streets an absolute delight. In the summer, these picturesque lanes burst with vibrant colours and blooming flowers.

Stroll along the enchanting cobbled streets, meander through the cosy squares and discover hidden courtyards and winding lanes lined with beautiful whitewashed cottages. It’s not hard to see why house prices here are above the regional average, at around £280,000.

Great British Life: Hawkshead Photo: Getty ImagesHawkshead Photo: Getty Images

It’s also easy to understand why Hawkshead is such a popular spot for day-trippers and visitors. There’s an impressive range of independent gift shops, book shop, outdoorwear shops and homeware shops. And there’s no shortage of places to eat and drink, with good pubs and plenty of cafes serving everything from tea and cakes to light meals.

If you want to sample the taste of Hawkshead, try some of the local produce – Hawkshead Relish, Hawkshead Chocolate Company, The Little Ice Cream Shop and Potters Hawkshead Gin all manufacture their tasty products around the village and Cumbrian Legendary Ales brew their beer in a converted barn on the Graythwaite Estate on the edge of the village.

Hawkshead wears its rich history and heritage like a badge of honour. Among the historic highlights around the village are the awe-inspiring St Michael's Parish church, the 15th century courthouse and the grammar school, which William Wordsworth attended in the late 1700s. The Grammar School closed in 1909 and today young pupils attend Hawkshead Esthwaite Primary School, which was rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted at their last inspection.

Great British Life: Tarn Hows is one of the most beautiful spots around. Photo: Getty ImagesTarn Hows is one of the most beautiful spots around. Photo: Getty Images

Lots to explore 

While there’s lots of history to be studied here, there’s much more to Hawkshead – it’s a town that embraces a lively and fun-loving spirit. Though its ancient buildings whisper stories of the past, Hawkshead pulses with energy in its quirky shops and delicious local treats.

Surrounded by the idyllic landscapes of the Lake District, Hawkshead serves as a gateway to the region’s captivating natural beauty. Positioned close to Esthwaite Water – one of smallest in the Lake District – (and home to Beatrix Potter’s Jeremy Fisher) where you might spot ospreys trying to find lunch.

Tarn Hows is hugely popular, as is the castellated Claife Viewing Station, next to the ferry and built in 1790 for the fledgling tourist industry. Grizedale Forest is close by and is home to a sculpture trail with about 100 pieces of art dotted around the woodland. It’s managed by Forestry England and there are walking trails, cycling trails, Go Ape and Forest Segway.

And if you are planning outdoor adventures, you’ll need the right gear. Luckily, Hawkshead has its own brand of outdoor wear. The clothing firm, which stocks all the big brands, was born in the village and now has stores across the country.

Great British Life: The old grammar school in Hawkshead. Photo: Getty ImagesThe old grammar school in Hawkshead. Photo: Getty Images

A way with words 

Hawkshead's picturesque surroundings left an indelible mark on William Wordsworth’s creative sensibilities and inspired his belief in the spiritual connection between humans and the natural world, which became a recurring theme in his poetry. Today, visitors can explore the Old Grammar School, now a museum dedicated to Wordsworth's legacy which offers insights into his life and the natural beauty that inspired his literary works.

Hawkshead proudly celebrates its association with Wordsworth, honouring his profound influence on English literature and inviting visitors to experience the same landscapes that once stirred his poetic genius. He referred to the English Lake District as "the loveliest spot that man hath found," and he is not the only one captivated by the breathtaking landscapes of the Lake District.

Cherished children's author and illustrator, Beatrix Potter, also has an everlasting connection with the town. Her work is usually on display at the National Trust-owned gallery in the village, but it is closed this year as repair work is carried out.

Her former home, Hill Top at Near Sawrey, not far from Hawkshead is open to visitors. It’s also now owned by the National Trust, and offers the opportunity to see the rooms and gardens that ignited Potter's imagination and gave life to her enchanting stories.