To Meet This Land

A pilgrimage is a magical way to begin a series of work. I began this one by traveling to England’s Lake District, to the area that inspired Beatrix Potter. She is best known for her children’s books, Peter Rabbit, et al. but it was what happened after Peter Rabbit that inspires me. Following the death of her fiancé in 1905, Beatrix bought a small farm in a very small village, intuitively knowing she needed to change the shape of her life. She continued with her books, but gradually became a respected farmer and conservationist, leaving over 4,000 acres of working farms to the National Trust when she died in 1943.

Beatrix Potter in her garden with her dog, Kep. Taken by Charles G.Y. King, 1913. Public Domain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

There’s a lot more to the story, but as a woman who has also come through grief and then changed the direction of her life, I admire Beatrix’s strength and sensitivity. I wanted to meet this land that gave birth to her new life.

Other connections intrigued me. I’m in the same age range Beatrix was at the end of her life, and my grandfather’s grandparents came from the same NW part of England, Lancashire. Once there, I gradually understood Beatrix’s feeling that this was coming home.

I walked with my camera many times over the same hills and paths Beatrix walked. Since my attention is always drawn to intimate landscapes rather than grand vistas, much as Beatrix also preferred, I wasn’t surprised that as I was finding my own connection with the land I also found glimpses of a timeless spirit between Beatrix’s walking the land and my own walking it.

“It is some years since I have walked on the beloved hills, but I remember every stone and rock — and stick.”

From a letter written by Beatrix Potter a few weeks before her death at the age of 77.

One pilgrimage in 2016 led to another, three years later. On each of them I focused on local paths directly around Beatrix’s home in Near Sawrey. These were favorite and frequent walks of hers and led up to and around Moss Eccles Tarn, down to and along Esthwaite Water and above and around her Hilltop Farm.

View To Meet This Land