The two are famous for their association with Beatrix Potter. She lived at Hill Top Farm in Near Sawrey, first arriving at age 30 in 1896. A number of sites in the villages were used in her books such as The Tale of Tom Kitten, The Fairy Caravan and The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck.
The villages date from at least the 14th century, when Near Sawrey was known as 'Sourer', becoming 'Narr Sawrey' by the 17th century (suggesting that Far Sawrey must have been in existence by this time). Near Sawrey contains a pub, while Far Sawrey has a hotel, pub and village shop. The village shop ceased to function as a post office in around 2003.
There are waymarked paths between the ferry and Beatrix Potter's house which largely avoid walking on the public roads.