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Walk in Wordsworth’s footsteps – among the bluebells

THERE is very little written about Dorothy Wordsworth but one boutique hotel in Somerset is doing its celebrating the sister of the romantic poet

The Bower Inn near the market town of Bridgwater is offering guests details of Dorothy’s walks in the Quantocks when she lived in the area in the 1790s with her brother.

Candida Leaver, who co-owns the award-winning establishment, says: “Dorothy was a very interesting character and wrote a fascinating diary about her time in Somerset including details of the various walks she undertook.”

Dorothy and William lived at Alfoxden House/Park near the village of Holford, which is now called Alfoxton, for a year. It was here that William met up again with his fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was living with his wife Sarah at Nether Stowey, and the trio became inseparable.

The three strode across the Quantocks daily and many of the views here, and on Exmoor, helped inspire Coleridge to write several of his most famous poems including the Ancient Mariner. Dorothy was also prolific during this period but in a different way.

Candida explains: “She wrote in one entry of her Alfoxden Journal: ‘Walked before dinner up the Coombe, to the source of the brook, and came home by the tops of the hills; a showery morning, at the hill-tops; the view opened before us very grand.’

“We’ve now recreated some of the walks Dorothy would have accomplished during her time in the area so that anyone wishing to re-trace her footsteps when they are staying with us can. 

“The main walk starts near Alfoxton Park, which is now largely uninhabited and partly unsafe, and includes Holford Combe and the dome of Dowsborough, a hillfort where Dorothy would lie in the sunshine with ‘Col’, according to her diary.

“Coleridge found Dorothy lively, quick-witted and sensitive and, although the poet neglected his wife in favour of spending time with the Wordsworths, there is no suggestion of romance between the pair just companionship.”

After a day of walking, guests who stay at The Bower Inn can relax in front of the wood burning stove in the bar and warm their toes or soak their feet in one of the en suite bathrooms in the 16 luxury bedrooms.

Candida, who runs the hotel, pub and restaurant with her husband Peter Starling, said: “We provide traditional country breaks with contemporary facilities. Guests can enjoy delicious food, sourced from suppliers and producers that are located as near to us as possible, and experience a good night’s sleep in one of our cosy beds, which have Hypnos mattresses and duck down or synthetic duvets, or vintage eiderdowns, combined with fine linens.”

The Bower Inn team prides itself on attention to detail, whether it’s the quality of food or the fixtures and fittings in the bedrooms, or the general ambience and the way they interact with all their customers.

Candida says: “Our food is ingredient-led and wholesome from breakfast through to lunch and dinner. My bees work hard to make our breakfast honey, we get our eggs from the farm next door and we make our own vegetarian sausages on-site or source superb pork ones from a local butcher, who gets his meat from local farmers.

“Our bread comes from a little, local bakery in Bridgwater, which employs traditional baking methods to create its products including using old brick ovens.

“We make our own granola, peanut butter and fresh fruit salad. We serve speciality teas from the region and locally roasted and blended coffee from Clifton Coffee. These are all the sorts of things discerning guests require these days and it’s a pleasure to provide it too, giving Somerset producers and suppliers a boost.”

Candida and Peter took on The Bower Inn in 2010 when it was a rundown and empty country pub.

“We’ve spent the past six years revamping the inn’s fortunes and creating a highly successful pub, restaurant and boutique hotel with an excellent reputation for ambience, customer service and food.” 

All the bedrooms feature vintage furniture and accessories, some dating back to the 1820s, but have all the requirements a modern traveller would expect.

“We’re very flexible and will go that extra mile to welcome our guests and be accommodating. If a hotel guest wishes to have a simple dinner such as scrambled eggs on toast in their room, we can do it. Being a small, friendly, family-run, independent operation means we are open to customer requests and can react quickly and efficiently.”

For further details visit www.thebowerinn.co.uk /01278 422926 t

 

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