Discover England’s Great Literary Walks
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Discover England’s Great Literary Walks

Our friends at iFootpath have a collection of 16 literary walks throughout England – from Yorkshire to Cornwall. Discover the highlights of each walk in their article below…they could be a great warm-up for one of our walking holidays.

Some of the greatest writers were inspired by the natural landscapes around them. It’s no surprise to us; we all feel our emotions awakened as we explore the great outdoors and our hearts are stirred. I guess the difference is that, whilst some of us are left speechless by the beauty revealed to us, the literary greats find their voices…

Why not follow in the footsteps of writers and poets with iFootpath’s collection of literary walks? From Winnie-the-Pooh to Dracula, Jane Eyre to Sherlock Holmes and Merlin to Gandalf, some of our best-loved characters have their roots in England’s towns, villages and countryside.

Pick your favourite or schedule all 16 into your adventures this year. Who knows, an iFootpath walk might even inspire you to pen a classic novel of your own…

Whitby Dracula Trail, 4.5 mile circular, North Yorkshire

Bram Stoker, who wrote Dracula in 1897, stayed at 7 Royal Crescent, Whitby in the summer of 1890 and set chapters 6-8 of the novel around Whitby, the fishing port on the mouth of the River Esk. There is a Bram Stoker Memorial seat, commemorating the view that inspired Stoker’s Whitby scenes. From here one can see the ruins of the Abbey, the Church and the stone steps and the cliffs to the left where the Russian ship ‘Demeter’ came ashore in a violent storm. Take some garlic around with you…just to be sure.

From Chawton in the Footsteps of Jane Austen, 5 mile circular, Hampshire

Jane Austen lived in Chawton from 1809 to 1817 and it was in her Chawton home that she penned the novels Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion. Jane and her sister spent a lot of time entertaining their nieces and nephews, playing the piano, sewing and walking both for pleasure and to visit friends. Today Chawton is home to the Jane Austen Museum and also the Centre for the Study of Early English Women’s Writing, 1600-1830.

In the pawsteps of Winnie-the-Pooh, 5.5 mile circular, East Sussex

A trail around Ashdown Forest, the setting for the Winnie-the-Pooh stories written by AA Milne. The route gives you chance to immerse yourself in the world of Pooh and his friends. Play Poohsticks at Pooh Bridge, explore the 100 Aker Wood and visit Eeyore’s Gloomy Place.

The Kipling Roedean and Rottingdean Trail, 4.5 mile circular, East Sussex

A stroll along the south coast near Brighton, taking in the beautiful undercliff path, the pretty village of Rottingdean and then climbing up to Beacon Hill for the return leg across the Downs. Rottingdean was home to Rudyard Kipling from 1897 to 1902. It was here that Kipling wrote Kim and some of the Just So Stories.

Hurst Green and the Ribble Valley, 5.5 mile circular, Lancashire

A trail around the spectacular Ribble Valley in the Forest of Bowland. There are beautiful views throughout as you take in this peaceful and tranquil setting which, some speculate, could have been Tolkien’s inspiration for the Shires in the Lord of the Rings novels. Tolkien spent long periods in the area while his son taught classics at Stoneyhurst College.

Lawrence of Arabia Trail, 7.5 mile circular, Dorset

A trail from the Bovington Tank Museum in Dorset giving walkers the opportunity to visit both the former home and the final resting place of T. E. Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia. He first came to Bovington in 1923 where he joined the Tank Corps, buying the nearby retreat Clouds Hill in an attempt to escape the public eye. After a spell in the RAF he retired to Clouds Hill in 1935, but sadly only a few months later he was fatally injured in a motorbike accident. In literary terms he is best known for his account of his war experiences, Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Tintagel and Barras Nose, 3.5 mile circular, Cornwall

A cliff top route along the Cornish coast with spectacular views across this section of the Atlantic coast and chance to learn more of the famous myths and legends surrounding King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. 

Broadstairs to Margate: The Turner and Dickens Trail, 6 miles linear (train return), Kent

Broadstairs has strong connections with the writer Charles Dickens and Margate is closely associated the artist JMW Turner and throughout the walk you’ll have chance to learn more about these two icons of British cultural history.

Bronte Waterfalls, 4 mile circular, West Yorkshire

This area of West Yorkshire is known as Bronte Country, famous for its association with the Bronte sisters. The Bronte waterfall was a favourite of Anne and Charlotte. In 1854 Charlotte wrote, ‘It was fine indeed; a perfect torrent racing over the rocks, white and beautiful!’

Grantchester Village and Meadows, 6 mile circular, Cambridgeshire

Explore the old haunts of two of our finest poets, the war poet Rupert Brooke and Lord Byron of the Romantic Movement. In this quintessentially English village it is easy to imagine the two of them taking tea and swimming in the pools.

North Lees, Dennis Knoll and Stanage Edge, 3 mile circular, Derbyshire

North Lees Estate was once owned by the Eyre family and it is said that Charlotte Bronte visited the nearby North Lees Hall and that this is where she got her inspiration for her novel Jane Eyre.

Reading Town, River and Canal, 3 mile circular, Berkshire

This walk takes you past many of Reading’s landmarks, old and new, including Reading Goal, which is most famous for housing Oscar Wilde who languished there for 18 months between 1895 and 1897. On his release from gaol he wrote the famous poem The Ballard of Reading Gaol.

The White Hart and Shave Wood, 5 mile circular, Hampshire

This pub walk leads you through the New Forest to reach the nearby village of Minstead where you’ll have chance to visit the final resting place of Sherlock Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Dorchester Town Trail, 2 mile circular, Dorset

In his novel The Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy created the fictional town of Casterbridge based on the town of Dorchester. The trail takes you past many of the modern day locations mentioned in the novel including the Maumbury Rings and the Mayor of Casterbridge’s house.

Ampthill and Maulden Trail, 5.5 mile circular, Bedfordshire

Enjoy the rolling landscape of the Bedfordshire hills plus visit the ruins of Houghton House, said to be the inspiration for House Beautiful in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. 

Marsden Bay and Cleadon Hills, 5 miles circular, Tyne and Wear

There’s something for everyone on this walk with meadows, windmills and the dramatic coast. Part of the route follows Bede’s Way, walking in the footsteps of 7th century pilgrims, from the twin monastery sites of St Peter’s in Wearmouth to St Paul’s in Jarrow. Bede was educated at the monastery from the age of seven and became a well-known scholar and author, his work gaining him the title of The Father of English History.  

Read this article on the iFootpath blog.