A Tour of the English Lakes
An introduction to the Pen, Paint and Pixel Exhibition
Back in 1769, a famous writer and poet called Thomas Gray went on a walking tour of the Lake District and wrote a descriptive journal about where he went and what he saw. It was the first example of modern travel writing with its vivid descriptions of the 18th century scenery.

A few years later an artist called Joseph Farington used a copy of Gray’s journal to follow in his footsteps, painting the scenes that Gray had described. Farington produced an amazing collection of 18th century landscape art, consisting of watercolours, engravings and sketches.

Just a few years ago John Murray, a publisher from London, inherited Gray’s original notebooks and decided to do exactly what Farington did over 200 years before. He found the locations and took digital photographs of the views.

The words, pictures and photos inspired an exhibition held at the Wordsworth Museum, located in the village of Grasmere in the Lake District called Pen, Paint & Pixels. The exhibition is no longer in the museum, but we are very grateful to the Wordsworth Trust, who have given us permission to publish the content of the exhibition.

Using this fascinating web app, you can now find the locations where Gray wrote, Farington painted and Murray took his photos - Why not take your own photos and see how close you can get to Farington’s paintings? why not write your own text descriptions? or even try drawing or painting the views for yourself!

This web app contains an entry for each location painted by Farington and described by Gray. Tap the pictures to see a larger version. Can you find the exact location for each entry? A few hints are provided to help you, as well as a map. Have fun!

Left: Thomas Gray, by Benjamin Wilson (John Murray Collection), Right: Joseph Farington, by Henry Hoppner Meyer after Sir Thomas Lawrence (Yale Center for British Art)
Published in partnership with the Wordsworth Trust. All content is subject to copyright.