Wednesday, 03 February 2016
See the places behind the children's books
Celebrate the incredible places in the UK that inspired authors to write books that enchanted generations of children
This week, to celebrate World Book Day, children everywhere will be seen dressing up as their favourite characters to pay tribute to some of the most celebrated books in history.
Interestingly, many of the most popular stories were set right here in the UK - in our villages, towns and cities. So, to celebrate these incredible places, Premier Inn has mapped out the UK, one iconic children’s book at a time.
1. The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Friends by Beatrix Potter – Lake District
Born in London in 1866, Beatrix Potter spent her childhood summers in the Lake District lapping up the beauty of the area, which she painted, and the beloved yet naughty Peter Rabbit was created from the animals she sketched.
In 1905 she bought Hill Top Farm and moved to the Lake District permanently, buying pieces of land as her books made more money to preserve the landscape. All her property, nearly a quarter of the Lake District, was left to the National Trust when she died in 1943.
This year marks her 150th anniversary and the Lake District will be celebrating this milestone in style so don’t miss out. Stay over in beautiful Kendal, a great base for visiting the Lake District, near to Kendal Castle and the World of Beatrix Potter.
2. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne – Ashdown Forrest, East Sussex
Winnie-the-Pooh is possibly the most treasured bear of all time and his stories have been captivating children since 1926. The stories, set in the beautiful surroundings of Ashdown Forest, allow for the most wonderful of woodland adventures for all who visit.
A quick trip to the education centre on-site and you can pick up a map of the forest allowing you to follow in the great bear’s footsteps. The path culminates at Pooh’s much-loved bridge where you can take a moment and play Pooh Sticks – a favourite game of, and made famous by, the honey-loving bear. Stay nearby in East Grinstead and visit Hever Castle and the Bluebell railway.
3. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson – West coast and Bristol
Robert Louis Stevenson is probably best known for Treasure Island, his novel about Jim Hawkin’s boyhood adventure on a quest for buried treasure, still a much loved tale by all who cast their eyes upon its pages and disappear into a world of pirates, sea battles and treasure.
To get under the skin of the book, a self-guided walking and cycling route around Bristol’s historic Floating Harbour can be taken, which celebrates Bristol’s connections with the classic novel.
4. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie – London
When J.M. Barrie wrote the immortal opening sentence 'All children grow up, except one,' it was in tribute to his brother who tragically died a day before his 14th birthday. His family thought of him as a forever boy and the legend of Peter Pan was born.
Barrie was born, raised and educated in Scotland but moved to London where the novel was penned. He commissioned a statue of Peter Pan which stands in Kensington Gardens, and by staying close by in Kensington you can visit Bloomsbury Square, where the Darling family lived, and visit St. Martin's Lane and the Duke of York's Theatre where Peter Pan made its stage debut in 1904.
5. The Borrowers by Mary Norton – Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire
The novel tells the trials and tribulations of a family of tiny people, who live secretly beneath the floorboards of an old English house ‘borrowing’ from the big people in order to survive. The house in which The Borrowers was set is now a school. A trip to Whipsnade Zoo, the Stockwood Discovery Centre and a Birds of Prey Centre in nearby Wilstead are just a few fun activities in the local area.
6. The BFG by Roald Dahl – London
This wonderful tale of a friendship is a heartwarming tale of trust and overcoming bullies. Why not pack a bag and head to London's Leicester Square to see the actors in their glad rags at the premiere of the film in July – who knows if the BFG will make an actual appearance on the red carpet...
If you’d like to adventure further into the world of Roald Dahl, 2016 is the 100th anniversary of his birth, so head to the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire where you can join in at the World Book Day Party.
7. The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit – West Yorkshire
The Railway Children follows the lives of three children who move to a house near the railway in West Yorkshire following their father’s arrest and imprisonment after he is falsely accused of espionage. Finding themselves at a loss in the wilds of Yorkshire, the local railway becomes their point of focus as they watch the trains going back and forth.
The book and the film are based around Worth Valley train station. For a great day out stay near Leeds, where you can step back in time on the bridge at Haworth watching the vintage steam trains puff their way up and down the valley, or jump aboard and travel to the Edwardian Oakworth station which was the location for the 1970s film.
8. Watership Down by Richard Adams – Hampshire
The classic adventure novel features a community of rabbits escaping the destruction of their warren. Stay near to the village of Ecchinswell which offers a Watership Down walk, taking in Nuthanger Farm which plays a major role in the novel. Along the way you may be able to spot rare butterflies as well as bobbing bunny tails as they bounce around the North Wessex Downs.
9. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – the journey to Hogwarts begins in London's King's Cross
Harry Potter actually holds the top five positions for children’s best loved books. Be sure to pop over to Platform 9¾ at the Warner Brothers studio tour and have your photo snapped as if you were getting ready to board the Hogwarts Express.
10. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – Oxford and Guildford, Surrey
Set in Oxford, the town offers many ways to get acquainted with the history of the novel and its author. Alice’s Day commemorates an important moment for children’s literature and is celebrated annually. Try a themed walking tour of the city and see the original copy of the books in the Bodleian Library. Places to stay in Oxford in the area can be found easily – but if you want to expand your ‘Carroll’ tour, take a trip to Guildford, Surrey where he wrote Alice Through the Looking Glass.