Whenever I go to the Lake District, I can’t help wondering what Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle would have seen if they carried on with their original plan, instead of shortening the trip and going no further north than Derbyshire.
Of course, it doesn’t bear thinking that Elizabeth should have missed that fateful chance encounter at Pemberley – but what if she had?
What if she went to Lake Windermere instead, or Winander Mere, as the Georgians knew it? She might have sailed on the lake as well, although in a much smaller craft than the two modern-day steamers that are still ferrying passengers from one end of Windermere to the other, as they have done for the past 80 years.
Miss Elizabeth Bennet would have known nothing of the author of ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ (Beatrix Potter was born almost half a century later) but if she sailed past Storrs House, she would have recognised the Temple of Heroes, protruding into the lake to the left of this picture. It was built to honour four of most notable naval names of the Napoleonic wars: Admirals Nelson, Duncan, Howe and St. Vincent, whom the then owner of the house greatly admired.
Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle might have sailed all the way to Ambleside, and then continued to Grasmere, where William Wordsworth lived at Dove Cottage with his sister Dorothy for nearly a decade.
Have a lovely summer, whatever you do, and I hope you enjoyed the trip to the Lakes.