Some locales are so scenic and memorable that authors can’t help but base their entire novel/poem or parts of it in the same way to pay homage and keep the sweet memories of such iconic locations alive via literature. Such is the power of writing and furthermore, of places that spark inspiration! It could be a monument or a natural spring or brook, and in case of Gothic literature, ruins and bleak moors. Some of these locations are even open to visitors who can embark on a guided tour of the same and walk the same path that countless authors and poets undertook before they were struck by inspiration from their surroundings. Here is a compilation of some of the most famous literary trails. Enjoy!
1. Tolkien Trail, Lancaster England
This riverside trail that takes you across Cromwell’s bridge is nine kilometers long and if you enjoy woodland tours and reading some Tolkien or are just a huge LOTR fan passing by, then this is the ultimate trail. And don’t worry, there aren’t any evil gold smuggling dragons or orcs lurking about. Although, you might have to empty your pockets of any jewelry, especially shiny rings before embarking on this journey! The route begins at Shirebaum Arms, an enchanting village in Ribble valley and visitors pass by Stonyhurst college where Tolkien taught and wrote, concluding at Hodder. This trail only covers the locales that were featured in or inspired the novel and if you’re looking forward to exploring the filming locations for the movie franchise, then your best bet is booking a flight to New Zealand.
2. Dylan Thomas trail, Wales
This tour starts at Dylan Thomas centre in Swansea which is also the venue for the Dylan Thomas festival held in October till November. Visitors can order a drink at Thomas’ favourite pub The Queen’s Head or spend time at the Dylan Thomas boathouse where the poet was at his most productive from 1949 till 1953. His writing shed in a garage isn’t too far away from here and visitors can enjoy the view of Carmarthen Bay from the estuary- the very locale that served as inspiration behind Thomas’ most sullen poetry ‘Under Milk Wood’.
3. Narnia, Mourne Mountains, North Ireland
You won’t need to snoop around wardrobes to enter this Narnia. This location high up in the Mourne mountains however might require you to use your hiking gear though. CS Lewis was inspired by this hilly terrain to create his own mystical land and the Cloughmare trail leads to a 50 ton granite boulder that is said to have served as inspiration behind Aslan’s table in the novels and film franchise. Other famous stops along the trail include The Tree People and Dancing Green, as well as a tour through the author’s hometown in Belfast.
4. Brontë Sisters Trail, Yorkshire Moors
The Brontë sisters were known for the bleak tone of their novels- a quality that is often equated to the Moors. A marked footpath known as Brontë way curves through the Moors, leading up to Birstall and Padiham, but visitors can also hike up the Pennine Way national trail and find themselves overlooking the ramshackle ruins that are said to be the inspiration behind Heathecliffe’s farmstead in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. The trail also boasts of a museum dedicated to the sisters and a post office from where they sent out their manuscripts for publication. End your visit by paying respect to the sisters at their grave sites at the nearby St. Michael and All Angels churchyard.
5. Thomas Hardy Trail, Dorset
Hardy lived and worked around Dorset county, or as he referred to it- Wessex. He also called it the dream county and penned Far From The Madding Crowd during his time there. Now a two day tour with accommodation is offered and fans of the author can visit key destinations such as the author’s birthplace in High Stoy near Higher Bockhampton, the home of The Woodlanders which is located at White Hart Vale and Eggardon Hill which doubled as Harggardon Hill in The Trumpet Major.
6. Daphne du Maurier’s Trail, Cornwall
The author of works such as Rebecca and Jamaica Inn was known to spend much of the latter part of her life exploring the various locales here such as the hidden coves and moors which would later act as the settings in her most celebrated novels. She even derived plotlines and characters from her surroundings, letting her imagination run wild during these strolls and you can do the same via a two day self guided tour.
We hope that you enjoyed this list, and that you’ll visit these beautiful trails if you get the chance! Make sure to share with your friends and follow us on Instagram for more awesome content. Until next time!