Step into the enchanting world of literature as we invite you to embark on a journey through words and landscapes that have sparked the imaginations of Britain’s favourite authors and their widely enjoyed novels. From the picturesque Lake District that fuelled Beatrix Potter's imagination to the bustling streets of London, home to Sherlock Holmes, each step on these literary walks unveils the stories, inspirations, and settings that brought some of the world's most beloved books to life.
Our recommended routes let you take the very paths that authors once trod, where characters sprang from ink and paper into the vivid landscapes of reality.
1. Beatrix Potter – The Lake District
Near Sawley in the Lake District
The enchanting Lake District was home to Beatrix Potter, the beloved author of "The Tale of Peter Rabbit." The stunning landscapes of the region inspired her timeless stories and illustrations. When Beatrix Potter died in 1943, she left 4,000 acres of land and countryside and 14 farms to the National Trust. This has helped ensure the survival of the Lakeland landscape. Her old house, Hill Top, can be found in Near Sawley. It’s now managed by the National Trust and is open to the public. This walk starts and finishes next to Hill Top house and is a great way to extend your day filled with all things Beatrix Potter.
2. Arthur Conan Doyle – London
Sherlock Holmes statue, London
The bustling capital city, London, served as a backdrop for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. Iconic locations like Baker Street and the Thames River feature prominently in the books. The Sherlock Holmes museum is located in Baker Street and this walk passes nearby. It’s a fantastic route incorporating some of London’s best landmarks including the River Thamas and two Royal parks.
3.Lord Alfred Tennyson – Isle of Wight
Tennyson Downs, Isle of Wight
Lord Alfred Tennyson, the renowned Victorian poet laureate, resided on the Isle of Wight. The island's natural beauty and tranquillity influenced Tennyson's poetry, including works like "Maud" and "The Charge of the Light Brigade.” Farringford is a fully restored Grade 1 listed historic house and was the home of Lord Alfred Tennyson and his wife Emily and he wrote a number of his poems there. The house is now open to the public and from Farringford House, you can walk to the Tennyson monument. This monument was erected in 1897 to commemorate Lord Alfred Tennyson life and work and it sits on the highest point of Tennyson Downs boating fantastic views across land and sea.
4. Shakespeare - Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon is the birthplace of William Shakespeare, one of the greatest playwrights in history. This charming town is closely associated with Shakespeare's life and works, including masterpieces like "Romeo and Juliet" and "Hamlet." This walk will take you into Stratford-upon-Avon and along the beautiful River Avon to see Shakespeare’s Birthplace, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, scenes from his plays, plus attractions like the Big Wheel, Butterfly Farm, the racecourse, Avonbank Gardens, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and the Tudor old town.
5. Jane Austen - Bath, Somerset
The city of Bath
Chawton House (Jane Austen’s family home) often comes to mind when thinking about Jane Austen – and it’s well worth a visit - but Bath may hold a greater connection to one of Britain’s most loved authors. Jane Austen lived in Bath between 1801 and 1806 and as a result, it became a significant setting in several of her novels, including "Northanger Abbey" and "Persuasion." The city's Georgian architecture and social scene influenced her works and a wander around this historic town will transport you back in time. Today, you can visit the Jane Austen centre which offers a snapshot of her life and looks back on some of her greatest work. This short walk explores the historic city centre of Bath and passes the Jane Austen’s centre.
6. J.K. Rowling - Edinburgh, Scotland
The capital of Scotland is where J.K. Rowling wrote the initial Harry Potter books. Edinburgh played a significant role in inspiring elements of the series and there are a number of notable locations dotted around town such as Greyfriars Kirkyard, George Heriot’s School and Edinburgh Castle. The Elephant House, a cozy café, is often referred to as the "birthplace of Harry Potter." J.K. Rowling spent time writing the early chapters of the series here, drawing inspiration from the views of Edinburgh Castle visible from the windows. There is now a Harry Potter memorabilia shop/museum just around the corner on Victoria Street. This walk takes you around the area and on a journey through Edinburgh’s most fascinating street where there are plenty of tales to tell.
7. Brontë Sisters - Haworth, West Yorkshire
Haworth is the home of the Brontë sisters—Charlotte, Emily, and Anne. The parsonage where they grew up, now the Brontë Parsonage Museum, is where they wrote many of their famous works, such as "Jane Eyre" and "Wuthering Heights. The public museum will take you back in time and makes an enjoyable day out for all. This route which meanders up onto the moors to Withens Height couldn’t be more fitting. As you explore these inhospitable moors, you’ll get a real insight into the literary world of the Brontës. The Brontës are big in Japan so don’t be surprised to find signs around the area written in Japanese.
8. Lewis Carroll- Oxford, Oxfordshire
Oxford Thames Path
Oxford was the home of Lewis Carroll, author of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." The city's landmarks and gardens are said to have inspired the fantastical world of Wonderland. Carroll remained at Christ Church College for over thirty years, first as a student and then as a tutor. Alice in Wonderland begins with Alice and her sister sitting on the bank of a river, which is believed to be inspired by the setting along the banks of the River Thames near Oxford. This delightful route takes in the Thames Path and the Shakespeare’s Way and allows you to discover some of Oxfords most charming canals.
Step into the magic of these walks, where fiction meets reality. Start your adventure with our guide to Britain's literary destinations and recommended walks. Now it’s time to put down your book and step outside!