“What are men to rocks and mountains?”

“What are men to rocks and mountains?”

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?

Winander Mere small
View of ‘Winander Mere’, Lake District (Photo: http://www.geog.port.ac.uk)

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.





Storrs Hall Windermere 2
Storrs Hall and The Temple of Heroes, Windermere, Lake District (Photo Joana Starnes)

Of the many beautiful houses on the shoreline, Elizabeth would have recognised a few – Storrs Hall for instance, which had welcomed many of the great and the good in its heyday, such as William Wordsworth, who had once recited his ode to daffodils in the Hall’s drawing room, and also Robert Southey, George Canning and Beatrix Potter.

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.


Derwent Water from Castle Head watercolour
Derwent Water (Photo: The English Lake District, Editor J.B. Reynolds)

The intrepid explorers might have braved the long journey to Keswick, to be rewarded with astounding views of Derwent Water.







Greta Hall, Keswick
Greta Hall, Keswick (Photo Joana Starnes)

Also, they might have come across some illustrious travelling companions at the coaching inns along the way, because Greta Hall, a beautiful Georgian house on the outskirts of Keswick, was the home of the Lake Poets and thus a beacon for many literary names of the 18th-19th century.





Keswick and Ambleside are lovely and ever so picturesque, but it’s very hard to tell which buildings might have been there in the early 1800s, for Elizabeth Bennet to admire on her travels. Most of the houses seem Victorian, and no wonder, since tourism in the Lake District really took off with the advent of railways. But there are some buildings that seem to have been there since the dawn of time, like the ‘little house on the bridge’ in Ambleside, or the old inn on Kirkstone Pass, almost always shrouded in mist and battered by fierce winds.

Little House on the Bridge Ambleside Kirkstone pass inn








Clouds over Kirkstone Pass Lake District
Kirkstone Pass, from Kirkstone Pass Inn, Lake District (Photo Joana Starnes)

I’d like to think that if Mr. Gardiner’s business had allowed him to take his wife and niece on a tour of the Lakes, then Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy might have met in such a remote place instead. A place where he would go seeking a respite from heartache, duties and Caroline Bingley, in a bleak wild landscape mirroring his bleak thoughts – only to discover that he was not the only guest at the inn. And this is why we love variations – the possibilities are endless. Steep slopes, runaway horses, broken carriage wheels or inclement weather that keeps them marooned there, with no chance of receiving bad news in letters from Jane, no Lydia and no horrid Wickham to wrench them apart.




We can’t have enough of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, and that’s a fact. We love the romance, the angst, the roller-coaster drama. But, for me at least, the greatest attraction comes from the certainty that all will be well. Obstacles will be overcome. They will be together. A guiding red thread takes them from heartache to happiness. And, no matter how badly the story starts or indeed how much worse it gets along the way, our favourite couple will have their ‘happily-ever-after’ and all is well with the world. I guess this goes to show we’re never too old for fairytales.
Have a lovely summer, whatever you do, and I hope you enjoyed the trip to the Lakes.

22 Responses to “What are men to rocks and mountains?”

  1. Thanks for the imagery Joana! Like the others above, I hope this is a plot bunny in progress!! Not concerned about the length – all of your novels have been grand adventures. E&D are safe in your hands. Thanks for making this morning brighter! Cheers, Dave

    • Thanks so much for saying that Dave, that’s so lovely!! So glad you liked the post. Hugs and great to see you, and I hope you’re well. The idea isn’t quite a plot bunny yet, just flitting thoughts. I still need to finish the love triangle story and I don’t dare start chasing bunnies for fear of how far they might take me 🙂 but I’d love to do something with that afterwards. Take care and chat soon!

  2. Lovely photos. Believe it or not but I live in Derbyshire and have never been to the Lakes. A story based on D&E meeting there? Nice! As long as they get together and face problems together that’s my perfect story. Thanks for the post.

    • I remember you saying you live in Derbyshire, Glynis. I wish I would. Maybe in a few years or so. I love it when D & E work things together, rather than being drawn apart by Lydia or Wickham or some other meanie. Thanks for reading and I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

  3. You took me on a journey this morning, Joana, to a place I would dearly love to see in person. The pictures and homes are breathtaking and I can imagine D&E meeting in these beautiful settings instead of Pemberley. Are you hinting of your next story?? I hope so, for the scenario that you paint is a great beginning to our ‘never-ending’ stories. That is what I love about P&P too–it goes on and on in our imaginations. Lovely post~!

    • Thanks for coming along, Brenda, and one day I hope you come on this journey for real.

      No, I’m not hinting at a new story, just rambling ideas. At the moment I’m still tweaking and editing my upcoming release, but I’d love to dream up something with this starting point one day.

      What a lovely way to put it, our ‘never-ending’ stories. Yes, I agree, that’s the best part about JAFF, the chance to have more, more, more of what we fancy 🙂

  4. Joanna, Thank you! The post and pictures were so beautiful. It is an awesome area of England. It would have been terribly romantic for D&E to meet there, but then she would not have seen his portrait in the family gallery at Pemberley. And one picture is worth a thousand words. (Just teasing!)

    • So true, Elizabeth’s visit at Pemberley is so important! The portrait, Mrs Reynolds’ praises, the chance to see that actually he had a right to be proud and think himself above his company because he actually was. Maybe she can visit Pemberley on the way to the Lakes, find the portrait and everything, just not the master, because he’s up into the hills and she would meet him later 😀 Such fun, all those possibilitues!

  5. Beautiful Post! Thanks Joanna for another virtual tour and for your thoughts on D&E. I love all of the pics and the fun thoughts of having them meet at the lakes rather than Pemberley. Jen Red

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Jen, and the ideas I was playing around with. The truth is that I avoid writing Lydia and Wickham as often as I can, I find their pitiful story so terribly boring!!! And SO annoying that they drag D & E apart, just as it looked like they were about to turn a corner. Why oh, why didn’t Jane’s letter get completely lost? Of course, if it did then Darcy wouldn’t have had the opportunity to prove himself to Elizabeth as he did, so Lydia and Wickham are ever so useful, annoying as they are.

    • My pleasure, Debbie, I’m so glad you liked the post and the photos! So true, it’s so lovely to read over and over about D & E overcoming obstacles and finding their happily ever after. I wish I knew who invented JAFF, we owe them HUGE!!!!

Your thoughts are precious!