Wordsworth, 250 years on


The summit of Loughrigg Fell, from which Wordsworth had an early glimpse of what would become his first real ‘abiding place’: Grasmere

In A Guide Through the District of the Lakes, William Wordsworth (born 250 years ago today) was firm on the best time to visit — and it wasn’t in summer. The colouring of mountains and woods then was “too unvaried a green”. The rain, “setting in sometimes at this period with a vigour, and continuing with a perseverance… may remind the disappointed and dejected traveller of those deluges… which fall among the Abyssinian mountains, for the annual supply of the Nile.”

  Autumn was much better: “The months of September and October (particularly October) are generally attended with much finer weather; and the scenery is then, beyond comparison, more diversified, more splendid, and beautiful…”

Wordsworth’s study at Rydal Mount

  I took his advice. Researching a piece for Telegraph Travel to mark the anniversary  of his birth, I wandered around Grasmere last October, guided by the prose writer rather than the poet. That piece has been shelved for now, lest it encourage others to go wandering at a time when we should all be staying indoors. I hope it will appear later. Meanwhile, I’d like to say thanks to all the people at Cumbria Tourism, Wordsworth Grasmere, Rydal Mount and Allan Bank who helped to arrange my trip and show me around, and to the Wordsworth Hotel & Spa, where I stayed.

  And thanks, of course, to Wordsworth. He died in 1850, but he’s a writer whose work is essential in 2020, when we earthlings — as scientists remind us almost daily — are making the weather on Planet Earth. After all, he was telling us, in the 1800s, that human intervention in the landscape must be “incorporated with and subservient to the powers and processes of Nature”.

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