The children’s writer Beatrix Potter purchased Hill Top in Near Sawrey in 1905, the first of many farms that she bought in the Lake District. She only lived here for a few years, choosing instead to set up home in Castle Cottage, just over the road, soon after marrying William Heelis. Despite this, ever since the National Trust opened Hill Top to the public in 1946, it has become something of a shrine for Beatrix Potter fans from all over the world.
As requested by her husband, the farmhouse remains largely unchanged since her death in 1943. In fact, she stated in her will that, unlike the other 14 farms she bequeathed to the National Trust, Hill Top was not to be let to a tenant.
Today, its small rooms are open on a timed ticket basis to avoid overcrowding. Entering the house, visitors are immediately struck by what a simple, unpretentious place it is, from the wooden press cupboard in the kitchen and the display of trophies Potter won at local agricultural shows to the dolls and ornaments that adorn the first-floor rooms.
Outside is a cottage garden. Laid out by Potter herself with the help of her neighbours, it’s an informal half-acre, containing a mixture of fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers.
Be warned though: there is limited parking in Near Sawrey and Hill Top can get very busy. The best way to reach the farmhouse is to use the Cross Lakes Experience boat and bus shuttle which operates between Bowness-on-Windermere and Hawkshead via Hill Top.