You don’t just have to hit the books to appreciate the UK’s rich literary history. 

From the Yorkshire Moors, to the Lake District, to the Cornish coast, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite spots to visit following World Book Day. 

If you’ve ever been lost in a good book, a truly iconic setting can linger as vividly in your mind as any compelling character. Fictional places like Manderley and Satis House are strong presences in their respective novels, dominating the pages as powerfully as any of the characters who live in their walls.

Sadly, Manderley isn’t a real place (as far as we can tell), but there are many locations around the UK associated with famous writers and stories that are open for visitors.

If you’ve ever wanted to fall into the world of a favourite story – or even if you’re just looking for somewhere new to visit – consider hopping into your new lease car and stopping at some of these famous literary locations on your next road trip.

 

Hill Top House, Lake District

We’re pretty confident that none of us have made it to adulthood without coming across Beatrix Potter – or her magical menagerie of characters. Hill Top House is Beatrix’s 17th century farmhouse, which, along with her love of the Lake District, is said to have inspired many of her stories.

Perfectly preserved by the National Trust, you can explore the farmhouse where she lived and completed so much of her writing.

You can also explore her beloved gardens – a perfect activity for summer! – and you’d be hard pressed not to understand how she came up with characters like Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck and Miss Tiggywinkle in this rural setting.

Greenway, Devon 

Situated on the banks of the river Dart, Greenway is the summer home of the incomparable Agatha Christie, who is responsible for the creation of some of our most iconic – and unlikely –  fictional detectives in the literary canon.

Forget Sherlock Holmes; if you want a good murder story, it’s all about Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.

Christie bought Greenway in 1938 with the proceeds of her bestselling novels and the sale of her childhood home in Torquay. It’s now owned by the National Trust and open for visitors between 1st March - 29th October, with many items collected by the family on display (including some first editions of Christie's novels).

For book lovers, there’s also the collection of over 5,000 books on display in Greenway’s library.

If you plan on visiting, we’d recommend booking a parking space for your lease car in advance!

 

Whitby, North Yorkshire

The words 'vampire' and 'Dracula' are basically synonymous at this point. 

If you think of the former, inevitably thoughts turn to the latter. While much of the classic novel named after the infamous count is set in Transylvania, keen readers will remember that the setting moves to England – and the seaside town of Whitby in particular.

Moody, maritime and hailing from the Middle Ages, it’s not hard to imagine key moments from the pages of the novel when you stand in Whitby’s harbour.

Whether it’s the moment Dracula leaps ashore in animal form, Lucy Westenra’s sleepwalking episodes, or the reports of children being stalked in the night, the gothic atmosphere will put Dracula on your mind.

Of course, Bram Stoker’s classic novel is just one aspect of Whitby’s strong literary tradition.

Other writers such as Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Elizabeth Gaskell are known to have written in, or about Whitby. Nearby Whitby Abbey is also worth a visit, as the home of the first Anglo Saxon poet, Caedmon, during the abbacy of St Hilda.

 

Chatsworth House

Whether or not you’re a Jane Austen fan, no doubt you’ve come across her best-known work Pride and Prejudice at one time or another.

What’s a lesser-known fact is that Chatsworth House has long been associated with Pemberley, the fictional home of the most romantic literary hero of the 17th century – Mr Darcy. The association is so strong that Chatsworth was even used as the setting for Pemberley in the 2005 film adaptation of the novel.

The house, grounds and working farmyard are just some of the attractions on the estate open to visitors and there are a number of different tours that can be booked in advance. Chatsworth also houses one of Europe’s most significant private art collections. The Sculpture Gallery built by the 6th Duke of Devonshire is considered to be one of the highlights of the estate.

Whether you want to immerse yourself in the world of Austen, or simply fancy a fun day out looking around a grand country estate, Chatsworth is worth a visit.

Chesil Beach, Dorset

The Jurassic Coast is one of the most beautiful natural features of the UK mainland, being one of the richest heritage sites in the world for prehistoric remains. A recognised UNESCO site, it’s noted for outstanding rocks, fossils and landforms – but it has a literary association too, most notably Chesil Beach.

An 18-mile long stretch of shingle barrier beach and the setting of Ian McEwan’s eponymous novel of the same name, Chesil Beach is worth a visit for the views alone. You won’t find stripy deckchairs or painted beach huts here – only the wild, rugged shoreline and endless sea. It’s the perfect setting for the novella’s merciless portrayal of a marriage collapsing in its infancy.

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall 

Now owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, Tintagel is dated back to as early as the 5th century, when it was an important stronghold and residence of the rulers of Cornwall.

It’s place of both long history and fantastical myth – with strong links to both the Arthurian legends and the love story of Tristan and Iseult. It’s possible these associations led Richard, Earl of Cornwall, to build a castle on Tintagel in the 1230s as the site was of no military value.

Long after the castle has fallen into decay, its mythical associations (it’s been noted as the birthplace of King Arthur), have kept visitors flocking to visit.

However, it’s the outstanding views of the Cornish coast from summit that keeps us coming back. Whether you want to imagine yourself as a figure of Arthurian legend or just fancy a trip to the Cornish coast, this literary location is a must-visit next time you’re in the area.

The Bronte Parsonage Museum

If you’ve heard of Jane Austen, you’ve heard of the Bronte’s.

Sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne were poets and novelists in the 19th century who gave us classic literary works such as Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tennant of Wildfell Hall, which are some of the most beloved in the English language.

Their family home in Haworth, West Yorkshire has been perfectly preserved as a museum for the public by the Bronte Society – but even in the immediate years following their deaths, people were making pilgrimages there (early visitors include Elizabeth Gaskell and later, Virginia Woolf).

Today the museum contains the worlds most comprehensive collection of Bronte manuscripts, letters and early editions of their work.

Whether you’re a fan or not, to visit Haworth is to gain a fascinating insight into the freedoms and restrictions of the time in which the sisters lived. Why not take a drive through the beautiful and wild Yorkshire Moors to visit?

Jamaica Inn, Cornwall 

Another Cornish treasure to add to your list!

You may be more familiar with her classic gothic novel Rebecca, but English writer Daphne Du Maurier wrote several successful novels during her lifetime which are worth a delve into!

Jamaica Inn was inspired by – and named after – Du Maurier’s visit to a real place, the Jamaica Inn which still exists in the middle of Bodmin Moor. Historically associated with smuggling, it would have been central to operations running from locations such as Polperro, Trebarwith and even Tintagel.

You can see how its rich history influenced Du Maurier’s novel!

These days the inn is part museum and part hotel, and offers stays in its famous ‘haunted rooms’ for hunters of the paranormal. It also plays host to a monthly murder mystery.

You don’t need to have read a Du Maurier novel to enjoy a visit – why not take a drive through scenic Dartmoor on the way?

Chloe Allen

Chloe Allen

Our Digital Marketing Executive Chloe is in charge of our e-newsletter. There's no one better placed to inform and delight you every month, so keep your eyes peeled for her newsletter hitting an email inbox near you soon.