The picturesque village of Hawkshead is a popular destination for tourists keen to experience the "Lake District Proper", with its car-free town centre and cobbled winding streets.

With a population of around 600, the village is much smaller than many of its rival towns, but has much to offer visitors with a good number of pubs and cafés serving Cumbrian ales and soul-nourishing food. The town sits to the north of Esthwaite Water, close to the Grizedale Forest Park.

Top Hawkshead Hotels

For those wishing to explore the Grizedale Forest and Esthwaite Water, Hawkshead is a lovely little part of the Lake District with a few good sights of interest and well positioned in the heart of the Lake District. Below we have a look at hotels in Hawkshead and the nearby vicinity.


Originally the site of a farm owned by the monks at Furness Abbey, the village of Hawkshead became an important market town during the medieval period. In 1585 Archbishop Edwin Sandys of York opened the Hawkshead Grammar School, which would later see the likes of William Wordsworth and other notable figures educated within its confines.

The town developed as a tourist destination following the inception of the Lake District National Park in 1951, with visitors attracted to the plethora of ancient buildings and medieval squares that were so beautifully described in Wordsworth’s autobiographical poem, The Prelude.


Hawkshead is a warren of higgledy piggledy cobbled streets and alleyways, and cars are not permitted in its narrow centre streets. Here you will find a lovely collection of independent shops including those that celebrate local cuisine. The award winning Hawkshead Relish Company is based here, creating handmade pickles, sauces, and chutneys using locally sourced ingredients and traditional methods.

Poppi Red is a delightful gift shop with café, whilst Hawkshead Family Outdoor Fitters is the place to get all of your walking equipment. There are also a great number of pubs where you can sample locally brewed ales.

Key Attractions

Peter Rabbit

Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit (Neftali / Shutterstock.com)

Hawkshead was once home to beloved children’s author Beatrix Potter, following her marriage to local solicitor William Heelis. Heelis’ office in the village is now home to the Beatrix Potter Gallery, where you can view an exhibition of some of Potter’s original artwork. Just outside of the village is Hilltop, Beatrix Potter’s 17th century farmhouse that has been wonderfully preserved as an example of life during her time.

The former school of William Wordsworth is now the Hawkshead Grammar School Museum, allowing you to step back in time to a Georgian school room. Alternatively, brewery tours are available at the Hawkshead Brewery, which includes a refreshing pint at the end. Hawkshead is conveniently located for exploring some of the most picturesque parts of the Lake District, including Grizedale Forest, where you will find walking and adventure trails to suit all abilities.

Getting There

By Car – Exit the M6 at Junction 36 and take the A590. This picturesque but windy route will take you through Newby Bridge and along the edge of Esthwaite Water before arriving at the village. Cars are not permitted in the village centre but there is a large carpark at the southern end.

By Public Transport – A regular bus service operates between Kendal and Coniston stopping at Hawkshead.