The road to Saigon…begins in Rydal

It’s a very small world indeed, as we discovered recently out in Thailand.

Peter, our curator,  was taking part in the epic Road to Saigon car rally, a 27 day mammoth journey from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh city.

With his son in law owner and co-driver Erik Andersen, he was 17 days into the journey when the car – a 1950s Oldsmobile – developed fuel pump problems in the remote hills above Khao Kho.

peter and tony jones

One of the rally’s team of specialist mechanics, Tony Jones, came to help, and over the bonnet of the car they got chatting. “He asked me where I was from, and I told him I lived in the Lake District,” says Peter. “Then he asked, where in the Lake District? He knows Rydal very well indeed…he lives in Ambleside, and often walks his dog past our garden.”

“We know his wife, Lisa, who works for the Mountain Goat tour operator, bringing visitors here.”

Peter and Erik, a lawyer who lives in Papua New Guinea, covered  a total distance of 8575km, sharing driving and navigating over roads which varied from “excellent” to rice paddy fields, rubber plantations, jungle tracks and dusty gravel rough tracks. The rally, different versions of which are staged annually, had been a long ambition of both men.

The event is open to both vintage and pre-1977 classic cars and is suitable for both experienced and novice crews. Parts of the route followed the acclaimed 2015 Road to Mandalay as far as the northern Thai town of Mae Sot, then took a new route further into Thailand before branching out to the east and visiting Cambodia and Vietnam.

“It was great fun, though often very hard work,” says Peter. “The roads were challenging but not impossible, and we only made a couple of navigational errors.

“We finished down the field due to our mechanical problems so we were all the happier to have great back-up from the team, which included Tony from Ambleside.”

Peter and Erik end of road




Entries now open for Wordsworth young poets prize

Dear  Teachers

The descendants of William Wordsworth invite entries from your pupils for the annual Rydal Mount Wordsworth prize for young poets.

All students at Cumbrian schools are eligible to take part. The theme this year is “Deep Waters”, which can be interpreted as the writer wishes. The winning poem will be framed and displayed alongside the work of the great poet in his former home, for thousands of visitors to see.

Entries should be typed in 12 or 14 point font, double spaced, and no longer than one side of A4 paper. Each entry should carry at the top of the page the name and age of the writer, and the school they attend. Entries which do not have these details cannot be put forward for judging.

They should be saved as individual Word documents, with no illustrations or artwork, please, and emailed as attachments to:

The closing date is Friday March 23. All who enter will be invited with parents and/or teachers to the award ceremony at Rydal Mount after the Easter vacation (date to be announced).

Please remember, every entry should have the pupil’s name, school and age, at the top above the poem. Thank you.

Garden prize comes back to Rydal again

autumn sky at rydal

We are thrilled to be winners once again of a first prize for our beautiful gardens here at Rydal Mount.

Once again we scooped the top accolade in the visitor attractions and historic houses category. The trophy was awarded by Ambleside Horticultural and Craft Society and Lakes Parish Council in the annual “parish in bloom” competition.

And we are certain that William Wordsworth himself would have been equally delighted. He used to say that he would have been a landscape gardener had he not been successful as a poet. We think he would be very pleased with our efforts today to restore these extensive grounds according to plans that he made.

And while we know that the gardens – and house – are loved by visitors from all over the world, it’s always gratifying to get local recognition too.

The hard work has been done by our gardeners Helen Green and Pauline Brumwell who are pictured here with the trophy.Rydal gardeners with trophy



“I wandered lonely” goes Dutch thanks to Wordsworth fans from Holland

A couple from the Netherlands who are social media ambassadors for the Lake District have translated Wordworth’s  Daffodils into Dutch.

Rob and Cobie te Nijenhuis fell in love with the poet’s work when they visited his home here at Rydal Mount this summer. Great fans of the Lakes, who had been coming here for 26 years, this was their first visit to this house  where William Wordsworth spend most of his life.

“We had seen Wordsworth’s grave and heard he wrote a poem about daffodils, but he’s not well known in the Netherlands,” said Rob, a retired banker from Hummelo.

All that is set to change as Rob, a prolific tweeter who spends much of his time on social media telling the world of the loveliness of the English Lakes,  has become a great Wordsworth fan. He translated the poem after he and Cobie visited Rydal this summer as our guests and he has now sent us a copy of the poem in Dutch.

rob and cobie at Rydal Mount

A story about the couple’s love affair with the Lakes has recently been published in their local newspaper.

“The Lake District is the most beautiful place in the world,” he said. “We love England, but especially the Lakes.”

Rob and Cobie, who works as a commercial publisher, have stayed in Little Langdale every holiday, originally at Wilson Place farm and then at Damson View cottage.

We were delighted to meet Rob and Cobie this summer, and will now put their translation of the poem on display in the house.


Narcissen, door William Wordsworth

Ik wandelde als een eenzame wolk

Die hoog over valleien en heuvels drijft

Toen ik opeens een menigte zag

Een leger gouden narcissen

Naast het meer,onder de bomen

Fladderend en dansend in de bries


Continue als de sterren schijnen

En op de Melkweg twinkelen

Ze strekten zich uit als een oneindige lijn

Langs de kant van een baai

In een flits zag ik er tienduizenden

Hun hoofden opengooiend in een levendige dans


De golven naast hun dansten: maar zij

Deden of zij de sprankelende golven ingleden

Een Poëet kon niet anders dan homo zijn

In zulk vrolijk gezelschap

Ik heb gekeken en gekeken, maar kleine gedachten

De weelde die de show mij had gebracht


Vaak, als ik op mijn divan lig

In vacante of nadenkende stemming

Knipperen op dat innerlijke oog

Welke het geluk van eenzaamheid is

En dan is mijn hart met geluk gevuld

En danst met de narcissen


Translation by Rob te Nijenhuis

Dutch fans of the Lakes finally meet Wordsworth

A Dutch couple who are social media ambassadors for the Lake District were treated to Cumbrian hospitality here – and met Wordsworth for the first time.

Rob and Cobie te Nijenhuis have been visiting the Lakes every summer for 26 years, but until this year they had never been to Wordsworth’s home Rydal Mount.

So when Rydal Mount’s curator Peter Elkington became a friend on Twitter, he decided to invite the couple to see the house, and sample a traditional Cumbrian cream tea.

rob and cobie at Rydal Mount

Rob, a retired banker from Hummelo, is a prolific tweeter and spends much of his time online telling the world of the loveliness of the English Lakes. A passionate fan of fine dining and a good cook, he also posts photos of food from top restaurants. His enthusiasm has won him a strong online following in the Lakes and this summer he and Cobie set out to meet some of their Twitter friends.

“The Lake District is the most beautiful place in the world,” he said. “We love England, but especially the Lakes.”

Rob and Cobie, who works as a commercial publisher, have stayed in Little Langdale every holiday, originally at Wilson Place farm and then at Damson View cottage.

“When we first came over, we headed to Windermere, but it was too crowded. So was Ambleside. At Elterwater there were no vacancies. It was late in the afternoon when we saw the B&B sign in Little Langdale. We never stayed anywhere else after that.”

The couple became friends with the owners, the Birkett family, but in recent years have found an extended family of friends on social media, and this time dined at the Cottage in the Wood at Braithwaite, L’Enclume at Cartmel, and Dodds in Ambleside, before  sampling scones and cream at the Rydal Mount tea room.

They were given a tour of the house but confessed to knowing very little about William Wordsworth. “He’s not very well known in the Netherlands. We’ve seen his grave in Grasmere, and we hear he wrote a poem about daffodils,” said Rob.

Peter Elkington said: “We have admired Rob’s enthusiasm for the Lakes, and we were delighted that he accepted our invitation. And now he does know considerably more about our famous poet.”

Our world heritage site: a place to sit and breathe

It’s rare in any summer that we have time to stop, sit and just appreciate the place that we call home, which was once a poet’s home. But this summer, following a gardening incident, I’ve been doing what the tourists do: sitting and looking and breathing the air.

Visitors talk of the tranquillity and serenity they experience here. As the world rushes headlong into chaos, they find that Rydal Mount – and particularly the garden – is a haven of peace. That’s not something you can package or label; we’re now in a World Heritage Site, and this is the heritage of our world.

Some comment that the atmosphere in the secluded areas of the gardens gives them an insight into how the location gave nature its voice in Wordsworth’s poetry. Others confess that until they came here, they had ignored the poetry and now found themselves drawn towards it.

RM natural garden today

“We visit lots of places of interest and a lot of them just become just another place to visit…another historic house,” said one family. “Rydal Mount has a charm all of its own and you really get a feel of what it must have been like to live here and be part of Wordsworth’s circle.”

And others don’t know who Wordsworth was. They’ve read none of the poems. But they come out of curiosity, or to escape the rain, or because the see the sign at the end of the lane. And when they get here, they tell us, it’s something of a spiritual experience. “Secluded” and “enchanted” are words we often find in the visitors’ book.

Yet this is not a remote location. It’s only a few hundred metres from the busiest main road through the Lakes. “But it really does feel like an escape into another world,” said a German tourist. “We want to just sit and breathe and let the madness of the world simply disappear.”

summer at Rydal Mount

And now I’m learning what they mean. We know how the house feels when all the visitors have gone for the day, but usually the gardens are a place of work, for planting and weeding and logging – and mowing. Now I’m forced to sit and rest, and reflect on the wisdom of the poet who, two centuries ago, saw the mess that man was making of his world. The lines were written in early spring, but they’re just as relevant now in high summer.

I heard a thousand blended notes,

While in a grove I sate reclined,

In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts

Bring sad thoughts to the mind.


To her fair works did Nature link

The human soul that through me ran;

And much it grieved my heart to think

What man has made of man.


Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,

The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;

And ’tis my faith that every flower

Enjoys the air it breathes.


The birds around me hopped and played,

Their thoughts I cannot measure:-

But the least motion which they made

It seemed a thrill of pleasure.


The budding twigs spread out their fan,

To catch the breezy air;

And I must think, do all I can,

That there was pleasure there.


If this belief from heaven be sent,

If such be Nature’s holy plan,

Have I not reason to lament

What man has made of man?


A special guest visits the Wordsworths

Award-winning actor Brian Cox came for dinner with the Wordsworths at Rydal Mount.

Emmy-award-winning Cox, best known for his roles in the Bourne series and most recently as General Mikhail Kutuzov in the BBC’s War and Peace, was in the Lakes to attend a special screening of his latest film, The Carer, at Zeffirellis in Ambleside.

He  had dinner with members of the Wordsworth family at nearby Rydal Mount. One of the film’s producers, Charlotte Wontner, is the great great great great grand-daughter of William Wordsworth who lived at Rydal Mount.

“It was a memorable evening,” said Rydal Mount curator Peter Elkington, who hosted the dinner. “The creative spirit of William Wordsworth had brought together this group of very talented people.”

brian cox in THE chair

Brian Cox sits in William Wordsworth’s chair in the drawing room at Rydal Mount

brian cox with chris and lottie

Brian Cox with Christopher Wordsworth and Charlotte Wontner, descendants of the poet, in the grounds of Rydal Mount