One of the great things about travelling in the UK is the abundance of locations used for inspiration in some of our favourite literature. Here are eight places in the UK where you can indulge your inner child who always wanted to visit the places you read about in your stories…
There ain’t nothing that is so interesting to look at as a place that a book talked about – Tom Sawyer
1) Ashdown Forest – Winnie the Pooh
Ashdown Forest was the inspiration for the Hundred Acre Wood in Winnie-the-Pooh. You can go and see the bridge where Christopher Robin played Pooh Sticks and have a go yourself!
2) Oxford – Alice in Wonderland
Oxford is where Charles Dodgson (more famously known as Lewis Carroll) lived when he knew Alice Liddell and her sisters and made up stories for them about a little girl called Alice who goes looking for an adventure. You can even go and see Alice’s house (which now contains a Wonderland-themed giftshop).
3) Corfe Castle – Famous Five
Corfe Castle is said to have been Enid Blyton’s inspiration for Kirrin Castle, and was used as the film location for said castle in one of the Famous Five movies.
4) Lake District & Beatrix Potter’s Cottage – Peter Rabbit
Beatrix Potter spent a lot of time in the Lake District growing up, and worked with the National Trust in the conservation of the Lake District. The National Trust ended up buying a lot of her properties which she had conserved and managed on its behalf. Although ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ was not written in the Lake District (she wrote it in Scotland), Beatrix Potter based many of her subsequent stories on her Lake District home, Hill Top Farm, and the surrounding village and countryside. Many of her illustrations also incorporate furnishings and rooms from Hill Top, and buildings, gardens, fences, gates and signposts from the village of Near Sawrey. Hill Top is now a National Trust property itself which you can visit.
5) King’s Cross Station – Harry Potter
Most of the key Harry Potter sites in London are from the movies. The books themselves don’t mention a lot of real locations, and the ones that are, are normally mentioned only in passing (eg. The Leaky Cauldron is said to be on Charing Cross Road, Hermione apparates with Harry and Ron to Tottenham Court Rd when fleeing Bill and Fleur’s wedding, and Arthur Weasley has to attend to a prank on muggles at Elephant and Castle). However one location which repeatedly features in the books is King’s Cross Station, where Harry and his friends board the Hogwarts Express on Platform 9 3/4 each year. There is, of course, no Platform 9 3/4, but there is a Platform 9 3/4 sign on a wall in the main ticket hall where you can have your photo taken.
6) Thames Valley, Berkshire – Wind in the Willows
While multiple places claim to be the setting for Wind in the Willows, there’s no way to know for sure if Kenneth Grahame had anywhere particular in mind when writing the stories. He did, however, live in Cookham in Berkshire when he wrote the stories for his young son. This was also the place where he had been raised and spent much of his childhood doing exactly Mole and Ratty do – ‘simply messing about in boats’ – so it is probably safe to say this area was a large influence on the story.
7) Sherwood Forest – Robin Hood
There isn’t much of Sherwood Forest left now, as most of it is now grassland. You can still visit the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre at Edwinstowe though, and parts of the forest that do remain.
8) Paddington Station – Paddington Bear
Paddington Bear was named so because the Brown family found him at Paddington Station. You can of course visit Paddington Station, and even see the bronze statue of Paddington Bear himself.