22nd May, 2014

Great Britain has its fair share of Great Writers. Our literary heritage is a particularly rich one, with world-famous legends such as Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Dylan Thomas, William Shakespeare, The Bronte sisters, James Herriot, William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter all flying the flag for British literature. There's no better way to celebrate this incredible legacy than with a walking tour of Britain, taking in some our most well-loved writers' houses.

Walking around Britain on our 'In the footsteps of famous writers' tour offers a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in the landscape that was Jane Austen's inspiration for writing, to visit historic houses such as New Place and Nash's House where Shakespeare lived in Stratford-upon-Avon, and to experience up close the places that feature in the works of writers like Lewis Carroll.

Beginning in London and then the gentle hamlets of southern England, this special historic walking tour takes you through charming villages pf the West Country to the stunning and unspoilt coastline of Wales. The route then heads on through the picturesque Cotswolds to Stratford on Avon in the heart of middle England. From here you travel north to the very different scene of the Yorkshire moors and then into the poetic Yorkshire Dales. Enjoy the drama of the absolutely gorgeous Lake District before reaching Scotland and Edinburgh, your final destination.

Our favourite historic writers' houses to visit

Our favourite historic houses which have associations with Great British writers and which you can visit on one of the walking tour are:

  1. The 16th Century CHAWTON HOUSE and library where Jane Austen’s brother lived, a house she would often visit. You can take a guided tour of the house and garden, and there's also a chance to explore this pretty village in which it sits, discovering for yourself the details of Jane’s life, family and books. It's also possible to visit JANE AUSTEN'S HOUSE in Chawton, which is now a museum. It was here that she produced all her novels, revising all previous drafts, including Pride and Prejudice, and writing her three later novels, including Emma, in their entirety. 2014 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mansfield Park, the first book Jane wrote entirely at Chawton. The museum will be celebrating all year with a range of events and activities.

  2. MAX GATE IN DORCHESTER, where Thomas Hardy lived. Hardy actually designed the house himself (he was a formally trained architect) and his brother built it. During the years that he resided at Max Gate, Hardy wrote some of his most well known works, The Mayor of Casterbridge, The Woodlanders, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure, The Dynasts as well as numerous poems and short stories. Hardy was an intensely private individual who valued his innermost privacy, and there is a fair amount of mystery surrounding his personal life and relationship with his wife Emma, whose sudden death inspired a spate of poetry expressing deep remorse for the distance between them... there has been a lot of speculation, and many visit Max Gate in the hope of gaining some insight into this enigmatic character in English literary history.

  3. DYLAN THOMAS' HOUSE IN LAUGHARNE. He famously wrote of his home in Wales: ‘there is nowhere like it anywhere at all...'. It's the 100th anniversary of his birth in 2014 so there are some special events on to commemorate the occasion. Many of the families and landmarks he knew are still there for you discover as you walk through the village down to the sandbanks and estuary. In 1944, Dylan wrote 'Poem in October' about his birthday walk, which you too can walk. In fact, if you plan to do this to coincide with your own special day, then the village will celebrate with you by giving you several free Dylan loved treats – a bag of chips, a pint of beer, a coffee and Welsh cakes and more!

  4. DOVE COTTAGE AND RYDAL MOUNT where Wordsworth lived. These historic writer's homes are wonderful to visit as part of a stunning circular walk through the Lake District. Wordsworth thought the Vale of Grasmere was 'the loveliest spot that man hath ever found'. Take in the shores of the mile long Rydal Water where he often sat, his early home at Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount where he spent the last 30 years of his life. The walk also runs through Grasmere village, which is absolutely idyllic with its surroundings of fells, tarns and lakes.

It's hard to whittle it down to 4, but the above are our favourite writers' houses to visit - perfect to combine with a walking tour of England!