The National Trust has come up with a radical plan to redecorate the front of Wordsworth House, in Cockermouth, to celebrate Stage Three of the Aviva Tour of Britain, which starts in the town – and it believes poet William Wordsworth, who was born there in 1770, would have approved.

The house’s usual shade of terracotta limewash, pictured lower down the story, is being temporarily replaced with an eye-catching wallpaper of green spots on a white background, inspired by the SKODA King of the Mountains jersey worn by the cycle race’s leading climber.

Zoe Gilbert, who manages Wordsworth House and Garden on behalf of the National Trust, said:

“Wordsworth was the original king of the mountains – he tramped the Lakeland valleys and fells for most of his life and celebrated their beauty and power to feed the soul in countless poems – so it seemed entirely appropriate to decorate the house accordingly. If bikes had existed in his youth, we think he would have been an enthusiastic cyclist too.

“We see this temporary change as a good way to draw attention to the house and inspire people to visit, as well as to spread the word about the work of the National Trust to encourage people to get outside more and enjoy our beautiful countryside on foot or by bike.

“The town of Cockermouth is really looking forward to welcoming the Aviva Tour of Britain and we wanted to play our part in the celebrations.”

The National Trust supports the Sky Ride programme of free cycle rides for all abilities guided by qualified leaders. A ride will start from outside Wordsworth House on Sunday 13 September.


The transformation of Wordsworth House, which will take place in time for the Tour’s visit on Tuesday 8 September, will last for a week at most, before it is returned to its usual livery.

Ms Gilbert explained:

“We’ve been working closely with our decorators, Bell Group UK who are sponsoring the project, so there will be no cost to us, and I’ve been really impressed by the careful on-site and lab-based testing they’ve undertaken before confirming that we can go ahead with this. Their patch tests show the type of wallpaper we plan to use works well.”

George Bell, Chief Executive of Bell Group UK, one of Britain’s largest painting and decorating contractors, said:

“We are a family-owned and operated company committed to excellence, and supporting our clients is a core component of our identity. Therefore, we’re delighted to be involved in this fun-filled event that will not only catch the attention of the local community but, hopefully, raise the profile of Wordsworth House and Garden.”

As part of the celebrations on Tuesday 8 September, the National Trust will hold a morning event for invited guests, before opening the house to the public free of charge from 1-5pm. Visitors can dress up in replica period costume and have their photograph taken sitting on a penny-farthing bicycle. From 3-5pm, there will be art and craft activities for families and slow bike races, supported by 4Play Cycles and the Forestry Commission, showcasing cycling opportunities at nearby Whinlatter Forest.

There will also be a range of stalls on Main Street. Steve Bishop, chairman of Cockermouth and District Chamber of Trade, said:

“There’ll be some great local food on offer as well as cycling maps, books and paintings, plus information about other tourist attractions and where to shop, stay and eat. We’ve also got a few eye-catching stunts planned – including dressing up Cockermouth’s landmark Lord Mayo statue in cycling kit, complete with his own bike! Traders across town will be dressing their businesses too.”

The Cockermouth Sky Ride will leave from Wordsworth House and Garden on Sunday 13 September at 11am. For more information, visit

Find out more about Stage Three, which starts in Cockermouth on Tuesday 8 September by clicking here, where you can find an interactive Ordnance Survey map and download an ETA and profile, as well as links to spectator information.