Britain’s 10 best literary rural locations you have to visit

It’s not just UK cities that have inspired literary legends over the years. Many of the world’s most loved characters and fantastical worlds were brought to life by Britain’s beautiful countryside landscapes, towns and villages. To celebrate World Book Day, we’ve put a list together of Britain’s 10 best literary town and village locations perfect for all lovers of the written word.

1. Dorset- Enid Blyton

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Enid Blyton is one of the most successful authors of the 20th Century writing with her 800 strong literary catalogue of work inspiring children all over the world. Blyton holidayed in Dorset many times a year and was very fond of the area and its people, even basing Noddy’s Mr Plod on a local policeman. All 21 of her Famous Five books were set among the countryside and seaside areas of Dorset. The iconic Corfe Castle is said to have been the real life inspiration for Kirrin Castle in ‘Five on a Treasure Island’, while Kimmeridge Bay on Dorset’s coastline features in ‘Five Fall into an Adventure’. Why not go on your own adventure with the family and recreate a famous adventure.  

Address of Museum: Dorset, BH20 5EZ
Nearby hotelTravelodge Poole

2. Ashdown Forest, East Sussex- A.A Milne

A true childhood classic. Many of us remember Winnie the Pooh and his adorable friends fondly with their woodland adventures and touching moral stories still making an impact today. Not to mention, the merchandise, TV series’, and film spin offs it’s had over the years. When you think of this its huge success, it’s amazing to think that it all came from a forest in East Sussex. A.A.Milne found the inspiration for One Hundred Acre Wood from Ashdown Forest near where he lived, and the character of Christopher Robin was named after his own son. After the horrors of the First World War, Milne was inspired to return to the safety of his childhood in the form of children’s literature, and after observing his son Christopher playing in the woods, came up with the honey-loving bear, finding escapism in his adventures. The Forest is full of wildlife and woodland creatures with wide open grassland areas and meandering pathways making it a fantastic place to take the family for a day out.

Address: Ashdown Forest Centre, East Sussex, RH18 5JP
Nearby hotelsTravelodge East Grinstead, Travelodge Tunbridge Wells

3. Giants Causeway, N.Ireland- George R.R Martin

Based on George R.R Martin’s fantasy novel A Song of Fire and Ice, Games of Thrones transcended the written word becoming one of the most successful TV series ever made sparking a cultural movement with every cliffhanger gripping the world. Much of the show was filmed in Belfast with it’s rugged glens, coastal roads and castle ruins forming much of the Seven Kingdoms. There are many GOT themed tours in Ireland where you too can step into the epic fantasy including a tour starting in Belfast with iconic stop offs along the way including the Giant’s Causeway, Dark Hedges, Carrick-A-Rede and Iron Island’s beach where Theon dedicated his faith to the drowned God. 

Address for themed tours: Londonderry, BT48 6BT
Nearby hotelsSee our Ireland hotels

4. Whitby- Bram Stoker

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Dracula is another world-renowned character that has gone beyond his pages becoming an icon in the horror/gothic genre. Stoker, having just finished working on 2 novels based in his native Ireland, was working on his next novel and needed some inspiration. In 1890, he spent a week in Whitby and was soon making noteworthy discoveries. While many gothic stories of the time were based in spooky foreign lands far away, Whitby Abbey’s imposing silhouette brought the gothic genre closer to home. Stoker also stumbled upon the name Dracula after reading William Wilkinson’s tale of a 15th Century prince called Vlad Tepes in the public library. The shipwreck that brought Dracula to Whitby (the Demeter) was also inspired by a real life Russian ship, called Dmitry, which ran aground on Tate Hill sands below East Cliff. Today, the Abbey silhouette still stands strong facing out to the North Sea and the small seaside town is big with tourists discovering it’s gothic beauty.

Address for Whitby Abbey: Whitby, YO22 4JT
Nearby hotelTravelodge Scarborough St. Nicholas

5. Haworth, Yorkshire- The Brontë sisters

If you’re a Brontë fan then a visit to the Yorkshire village of Haworth- affectionately known as Bronte Country- is a must. The Bronte sisters were brought up in Haworth, Yorkshire and the area inspired their stories massively. They spent a large amount of time writing in the beautiful countryside surrounding their Parsonage home. Wuthering Heights, written by Emily, was said to have been inspired by the farmhouse ruin of Top Withens located in the vast Haworth moorland. Sit by the Brontë Waterfall, walk the Bronte Way, and marvel at the Parsonage Museum which is home to The Brontë Collections- one of the largest and most significant collections in the world which includes manuscripts, letters and rare first editions.

Address: Church Street, Haworth, Keighley BD22 8DR
Nearby hotel: Travelodge Keighley

6. Lake District- Beatrix Potter

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Another children’s literary star- Beatrix Potter was inspired by the sprawling beauty of the Lake District to create her adorable characters and their mischievous adventures. Not only did she live and write here at her 17th Century Hill Top farmhouse, she also farmed around the area, winning awards and trophies in various agricultural shows, and was committed to conservation, campaigning for District’s maintenance even buying up huge parts of the land to insure its preservation. Today you can visit the wonderful place she called home and soak in some spectacular views across the lands and farms that Potter left to the National Trust.

Address: Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0LF
Nearby hotel: Travelodge Kendal, Travelodge kendal Town Centre

7. Hampshire- Jane Austen

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This cottage in Chawton was where Austen lived and wrote all six of her well known novels including Sense and Sensibility, Emma and Pride and Prejudice. Much of her work inspired later adaptations for film and television and has become a gateway into 19th Century society, love and coming of age. While many flock to Bath for the annual Jane Austen Festival, Austen’s pretty cottage is a time capsule going back to the early 1800’s where Jane spent her final years. Inside you will find a huge fascinating collection of Austen family possessions including her writing table, paintings, clothing and hand-written manuscripts. The garden is a stunning place to sit and admire the wildlife, or to take a look at some of the plants and trees known in Austen’s time.

Address: Chawton, Hampshire, GU34 1SD
Nearby hotel: Travelodge Alton Four Marks

8. Bateman’s East Sussex- Rudyard Kipling

Kipling won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1907 and it is said that the 17th century Bateman’s house played a huge part in inspiring his award-winning work. Kipling and his wife fell in love with the house at first sight and from that point on, Kipling found inspiration to pen more novels off the back of his earlier success with the children’s classic, Jungle Book. The 33 acre landscape around Bateman’s offered a sanctuary for him and his family, and inspired the novels Puck of Pook’s Hill and Rewards and Fairies. When you step inside Bateman’s, it almost feels as if him and his family still live there as everything has been left untouched and unchanged from when the writer lived and worked there in 1902.

Address: Bateman’s Ln, Etchingham, TN19 7DS
Nearby hotel: Travelodge Hellingly Eastbourne

9. Devon- Agatha Christie

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Once Agatha Christie’s holiday home, Greenway is now a National Trust property open to the fans of her library of works. Although Agatha didn’t write at Greenway, it was no doubt an inspiration for her work. Once you step inside what Christie herself called ‘the loveliest place in the world’ you’ll be immersed in everything crime and Christie, from family artefacts, to Agatha’s past outfits, manuscripts and so much more, this is the place to come to appreciate the Queen of Crime novels. The house and grounds featured specifically in a few of her novels including Dead Man’s Folly and Five Little Pigs.

Address: Greenway Rd, Devon, TQ5 0ES
Nearby hotel: Travelodge Torquay

10. Hay-on-Wye- “The Town of Books”

Truly a book hay-ven, Hay on Wye is well known for being the place to come if you’re a book lover. The small market town in Wales has over twenty book shops including Murder and Mayhem- the crime and horror book shop, and hosts the 10 day long annual Hay festival where people from all over the world come to enjoy and appreciate literature and the arts. As well as book shops, there are plenty of other unique finds to be uncovered here from old vinyls at Haystacks, to retro clothing, furniture and homewares. There are also plenty of places to enjoy the town’s scenery and to relax with a book (or two).There are dozens of cafes along the river Wye to enjoy a cup of tea and some cake with a lovely view, while The Old Black Lion dishes up delicious pub grub perfect after a busy day book hunting.

Address for Murder and Mayhem bookshop: 5 Lion Street, Hay-on-Wye, HR3 5AA
Nearby hotel: Travelodge Hereford