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The UK’s Best Literary Escapes

20 August 2019 | London Calling

Planning a jolly holiday? Here are a few for the books...

A Magical Tour of Scotland
Start your holiday off in Edinburgh, the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. The city can claim connections with a truly diverse selection of literary sensations, from Trainspotting to Harry Potter, and more literary tours than you can shake a wand at. If you fancy diversifying, Edinburgh even has a dedicated Writers’ Museum, which celebrates three of the most famous Scottish authors of all time; Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Next, head on out to the Scottish Highlands to continue your magical adventure. One of the most iconic scenes of the entire film series is the Glenfinnan Viaduct, a stunning 21-arched viaduct on the wonderful Highlands hills. The best way to enjoy this view is to board The Jacobite, a traditional steam train that’ll leave you feeling like you did receive that Hogwarts acceptance letter after all. The 84-mile round trip will give you a whistle stop tour of some of the most beautiful spots in the Scottish Highlands, and time permitting the train will stop to let you soak up the atmosphere atop the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
 
Go lit-wild in South Wales and Hereford
Take a trip all around South Wales for a mix of incredible natural habitats - of wildlife and writers alike. Start off in Laugharne, the home of famous Swansea born poet, writer and broadcaster Dylan Thomas for the last four years of his life. The Dylan Thomas Boathouse is not only a literary landmark, but a site of natural beauty, offering stunning views of the Taf estuaryand the Gowerin the distance. Then head down Cardiff way for a visit to the Millennium Centre and the Norwegian Church in the bay. The Millennium Centre is emblazoned with the words of modern Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis and the centre stages a variety of dramatic performances, and the Norwegian Church was once the home of Roald Dahl's father. Roald Dahl was born in Cardiff in 1916, and he regularly worshiped (and was even baptised) in the church. If you fancy, you can also hop over the border to Hay on Wye. Known as "The Town of Books", this small town on the border of England and Wales is home to over 20 bookshops; many specialising in selling rare and unusual titles. Head down at the end of May to see the town play host to the famous Hay Literary Festival, when 80,000 book-lovers descend on the area for two weeks of readings, events, workshops and talks.
 
Western wonders
The West of England holds many a treat for those in thrall to the written word. Stratford Upon Avon and Oxford make a great combination of places to visit in one trip. Birthplace of Britain's most famous playwright, Stratford Upon Avon doesn't let you forget its Shakespearean connection - with every shop, restaurant and pub seemingly named after one of the Bard's plays or characters. The pretty river and picturesque old buildings make Stratford a lovely and quintessentially English place to spend a day of tourism visiting Shakespeare’s birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage; the childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife. Then head to one of the three local RSC theatres to see one of The Bard’s plays brought to life on the stage. Drive just an hour south to Oxford for more literary delights; head to Tolkien’s local pub The Eagle and Child then have a look at the Shelley Memorial at University College before taking a tour of one of the prettiest libraries in the country, the Bodleian's Radcliffe Camera.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Worthy words in the Lake District
Get on the trail of William Wordsworth in the beautiful Lake District. The village of Cockermouth plays host to the Wordsworth House, where the renowned Cumbrian poet was born in 1770, and where his sister Dorothy Wordsworth, who wrote The Grasmere Journals, was born a year later - you can look around the reconstructed house and even write a poem to be laminated and attached to the poetry tree in the garden. If you’re wandering lonely as a cloud around the charming village of Grasmere, you may stumble upon Dove Cottage, where William and Dorothy moved after falling in love with the property in 1799 whilst on a Lake District walking tour. You can take a guided tour of the cottage, and also view the small fell-side garden, which Wordsworth called a “little domestic slip of mountain.”
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