I grew up in the Lake District, and it’s shaped who I am very strongly. When I lived in London, I’d yearn for it like a long-distance love. I spent my childhood walking in the hills and swimming in the lakes, but these activities have now become integral to my writing process. I think of my best ideas, whether I’m fathoming out the plot or fleshing out the protagonists, when I’m outside, in the fresh air, immersed in the countryside. Away from the distractions of a phone and laptop screen, I find my imagination can run free. It is liberating to be surrounded by sweeping horizons, and invigorating to be amongst the natural world which is constantly bursting with life.

Ellie Wood, The WIldwater Women

Ellie Wood, The WIldwater Women

The seasons here seem to be especially distinguished, and the light is something I love writing about. Even misty, grey days have a certain atmospheric magic. Autumn, when the book opens, is particularly stunning, with the trees turning spectacular colours and old leaves falling away to be replaced by new growth. Not only is it a picturesque period in the year, but it also perfectly illustrates that every ending is in turn a new beginning.

There are lots of lessons I’ve learned from the Lake District landscape. Its timelessness helps put things in perspective. Tinkling streams that trickle over stones remind me that obstacles are part of life’s journey – and in fact the musical sound is made by the rocks obstructing the smooth flow of the water. When I’m wild swimming, I’m looking at the view from an entirely different outlook, one it’s impossible to gain from dry land.

The different areas of the Lake District are so distinct, it’s as though the mountains and the beautiful bodies of water have characters all of their own – the craggy Langdales have such a different feel to the more rolling fells of southern Lakeland, and the dramatic sight of Wastwater stretching out beneath Scafell Pike couldn’t be a bigger contrast to a tucked-away tarn glittering like just-discovered treasure. It’s this diversity that makes this part of the world such a rich and inspiring place to be. The Lake District is full of history but it’s also brimming with ingenuity, especially when it comes to food and drink. This has definitely influenced my writing, as it felt important to have hospitality at the heart of the book too. Clarissa is creative with her lakeside cooking, and throughout the novel the characters show care through sharing a meal or a slice of homemade cake.

I wanted to bring to life some of the wonder of the Lake District both for readers who love it here as much as me, and those who are yet to visit, as it’s such a unique place and one which I’m immensely lucky to call home.

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