With its storehouse of many high peaks, variety of lakes, and woodland and open fields; it comes as no surprise that it served as a source of inspiration for writers like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey among others.
Following the selection, I intensely looked forward to my journey. The main reason why I eagerly anticipated the trip was for the rare chance to visit places connected with my favourite nature poet: William Wordsworth. Wordsworth’s association with the Lake District is well-known.
He was born at Cockermouth and went to the Hawkshead Grammar School. The heritage sites across the Lake District are replete with Wordsworthian anecdotes. The Wordsworth Trust takes a great deal of care in maintaining the sites associated with the great poet. With these thoughts preoccupying my mind, the preparation for the trip passed in a jiffy.
After we landed at the Heathrow airport in London, we were taken to the Lake District by National Express coaches on a very cold May morning.
The school authorities promised us a walk across the famous district. The places of interest included White Moss Common, Frair’s Crag, Arnside Knott, Gowbarrow Fell, Hawkshead, Grange in Borrowdale, Wansfell and Skelghyll, Loughrigg Fell and Keswick Cockermouth. Lakes like Grasmere and Windmere added to the appeal of the place.
They were all majestic in their idyllic charm and beauty. Wordsworth shifted the focus of the literary movement from the city of London to the country of Lake District. He, along with Robert Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge gave birth to the Lake School of Poetry, which occupies a unique position in the history of English literature.
In our guided tour, the girls of Hillend Girls School were taken to Dove’s Cottage and then to the Rydal Mount House where Wordsworth spent the last few days of his life. I was more than elated! As school students we were given discount on our entry fees to all these places. We got nice compilations of poems from the bookstores at discounted prices.
The way the British people market their creative artists and poets is indeed truly remarkable. There was so much to choose from: coffee mugs with Wordsworth’s signature and portrait glossed on it, T shirts, winter wear, postage stamps, badges, writing pads all specially prepared to serve as special souvenirs for friends and relatives back home.
The educational tour was more than useful to all of us. As students, we worked in various charity homes and took part in social service for nearly two months, besides getting geography and literary lessons from our accompanying teachers. Sad that the span of two months passed away too quickly. We had to reconcile to the fact that ‘All good things come to an end!’
It was another long British Airways flight that brought us back to Kolkata. All of us were immensely grateful to the school for giving us this rare opportunity to undertake an educational tour so that we could enrich our understanding of English literature, British culture and society at large.