Literary Walks

 

The landscape of Great Britain has inspired some of the world's greatest literature and many of these locations are still visited and valued by walkers today. A stirring breeze, the earthy scent of undergrowth or the trickle of a distant stream - who knows what and where will inspire you? So, for those who love literature and the landscape, here are our favourite literary walks:

Henry Williamson's Tarka the Otter - The Tarka Trail


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Based on Henry Williamson's classic novel Tarka the Otter, the Tarka Trail follows the route taken by Tarka in the book. If you have read Williamson's tale, the wooded river valleys, rugged moorland, coastal cliffs and sandy bays will seem familiar. You will visit England's largest sand dune system at Braunton Burrows, famously described by Williamson and as you wander through North Devon's Biosphere Reserve, you may well see a real-life otter!

 

William Shakespeare - Shakespeare's Way


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A literary walk would not be complete without mention of one of the greatest playwrights of all time, William Shakespeare.

From his birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's Way winds through beautiful Cotswold villages and some of England's finest locations including Blenheim Palace, Oxford and London. It follows the route that Shakespeare may have taken between his home in Stratford-upon-Avon and his workplace at the Globe Theatre in London, where most of his plays were performed.

With countless historic locations, the walk allows you to follow in the footsteps of Shakespeare, visiting his homes, watching a play and maybe even being inspired to write your own poetry.

 

The Lake Poets - South Lakes Short Break


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This short break in the Lake District is a wonderful way to experience the landscape that inspired the 'Lake Poets' at the turn of the 19th century. Beginning on the shores of Lake Windermere, one of the settings for Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons, the trail visits Grasmere. Once home to William Wordsworth, Dove Cottage, the iconic daffodil gardens and the school in which he taught, all await to reveal the character of one of the most famous Romantic Poets.

Having experienced the charm of Grasmere, the trail continues to Coniston where John Ruskin lies buried in the village churchyard, preferring this quiet corner of Lakeland to Poet's Corner at Westminster Abbey.

On reaching Hill Top, once the much loved home of Beatrix Potter, it is easy to see how she was so inspired to write about nature. With truly astounding scenery, picturesque tarns and glimpses of wildlife, it would be difficult not to be inspired by this landscape.

 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Coleridge Way


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When Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a founder of the Romantic Movement and one of England's most famous poets, moved to Somerset in 1797, the 'golden years' of his poetry began. Surrounded by the Quantock Hills at his house in Nether Stowey, Coleridge penned some of his most popular pieces, but it was the landscape of the Quantock Hills and walks through the attractive Somerset countryside with his friend and fellow poet, William Wordsworth, that really captivated him.

The Coleridge Way follows in the footsteps of Coleridge, starting from his house in Nether Stowey and visiting the picturesque villages, expansive moorland and wooded river valleys with far reaching views over the countryside that aided him on his journey to becoming one of the finest poets in history.

 

James Herriot - Herriot Way


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Telling the tales of animals through the eyes of a Yorkshire vet, Alfred Wright (better known as 'James Herriot') brought to life the stories and characters of North Yorkshire in his series of books called 'All Creatures Great and Small'. The Herriot Way is based on a holiday taken by James Herriot with his son, which he described in his book 'James Herriot's Yorkshire' and it delights in everything that makes Yorkshire so well loved, with pretty Dales villages, dramatic walks in the Pennines and glorious views over Wensleydale and Swaledale.

 

Cleveland Way


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Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights was set against the backdrop of the Yorkshire Moors and the Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby was featured in Bram Stoker's classic horror story, Dracula. Both of these locations can be visited on the Cleveland Way.

 

Offa's Dyke Path & the Wye Valley Walk

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There are numerous points of literary interest along the first section of the Offa's Dyke Path and Wye Valley Walk. William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Alexander Pope, Thomas Gray and Robert Southey all visited Monmouth and were inspired by the Wye Valley while, some centuries before, Geoffrey of Monmouth first introduced the legend of King Arthur. More recently, the village of Tutshill, close to Chepstow, is where Harry Potter author, J.K Rowling attended school. Hay-on-Wye, also known as 'the book town', houses no less than thirty second hand and antiquarian bookshops, as well as holding the annual Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts. It can be visited on the Offa's Dyke Path and Wye Valley Walk.

 

South West Coast Path


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The South West Coast Path is home to many locations with literary interest. Minehead was the birthplace of Arthur C Clarke and the novelist Charles Kingsley lived in Clovelly, which was also described by Charles Dickens. William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, was born in Newquay while, heading further south west, Penzance was the birthplace of Maria Branwell, the mother of the Bronte sisters. Daphne du Maurier favoured the little port of Fowey and based many of her novels on South West Cornwall and Falmouth and Fowey are also said to have been the inspiration for Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows.

 

Dales Way


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If you are looking for literary festivals, Ilkley on the Dales Way, is home to the largest and oldest literary festival in the North of England, the Ilkley Literature Festival.