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Wordsworth House and Garden launches young people’s poetry competition

Competition judge: Wordsworth House poet in residence Rowan McCabe. Image: Rowan McCabe

This year is the 250th anniversary of William Wordsworth’s birth, and to celebrate, Wordsworth House and Garden in Cockermouth has teamed up with the Words by the Water literary festival to launch the [email protected] Young People’s Poetry Competition.

Budding writers under the age of 19 are invited to follow in William’s footsteps and pen an original poem of up to 40 lines inspired by the natural world.

Competition judge: Award-winning poet and novelist Helen Mort. Image: John Hamlett

The best entry in each age category – 12 years and under, and 13-18 years – as chosen by the judges, poets Helen Mort and Rowan McCabe, will win a Lake District camping weekend for themselves and their family at a National Trust campsite for up to two adults and two children.

They can choose a pitch for their tent or campervan, or opt to stay in one of the site’s camping pods. (Tent or campervan not supplied!)

A camping pod at the National Trust’s Wasdale campsite. Image: National Trust/Joe Cornish

Wordsworth House and Garden visitor experience manager Zoe Gilbert said: “As William’s childhood home, where his twin loves of literature and the natural world were born, creating a young people’s poetry award in collaboration with the Words by the Water festival seemed like the perfect way to celebrate his 250th birthday.

“We very much hope the competition will spur some of the next generation of nature poets into action, so they can inspire readers to engage with and care about the world around them, just as William has done.”

Words by the Water festival president Melvyn Bragg said: “I can’t think of a better tribute to the man who redirected English poetry.”

The festival is at Keswick’s Theatre by The Lake from 6-15 March. Programme details are available at

The closing date for competition entries is Monday 24 February, and Rowan McCabe will present the prizes and read the winning poems at the Theatre by The Lake on Sunday 8 March.

How to enter

There are two categories: 12 years and under, and 13–18 years old. Entries must be original poems of no more than 40 lines, and entrants may submit up to three poems. No entry should have been accepted for publication, read on radio, television or stage or have been awarded a prize in any other competition.

Entries should be emailed to [email protected] with the subject line ‘Poetry Competition’ and must include the entrant’s name, age and postal address. Poems must be attached in Microsoft Word or PDF format.

The closing date for receipt of poems is 12am on Monday 24 February 2020. Winners will be notified by Monday 2 March.

Terms and conditions

1. The competition winner may extend their stay for the advertised price of the pod or pitch.

2. The National Trust will not be responsible for any transport or accommodation costs incurred in the fulfilment of the prize.

3. The stay must be taken before 30 December 2020. Standard terms and conditions of a National Trust campsite booking apply.

4. The prize is for a maximum of two adults and two children.

5. The prize must be booked in advance and can be redeemed at one of the following campsites: Great Langdale, Wasdale, Low Wray, Eskdale or Hoathwaite. Please note, only Wasdale and Great Langdale are open all year round.

6. The prize excludes bank holidays.

7. The prize covers the cost of a designated campervan pitch, tent pitch or camping pod for up to a maximum of two nights.

8. The prize is subject to availability.

9. The winners will be contacted by the booking office and informed how to book.

For more information about National Trust Lake District campsites visit

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