Wandering with Wordsworth

220px-dorothy-wordsworthDorothy Wordsworth was the sister of the celebrated Romantic Movement poet.

She lived in the area in the 1790s with her brother and wrote a fascinating diary about her time in Somerset including details of various walks.

Dorothy and William lived at Alfoxden (now known as Alfoxton) House/Park near the village of Holford 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.

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.’

One of the main walks she used to take 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.