Throughout history, Britain’s beauty has inspired many poets, writers and artists to create heart-stopping work. This year, 21st March marks World Poetry Day, and we’ve picked out some of Britain’s most inspiring locations.
Read on to discover the most poetic locations in the UK and their literary highlights. Our poetic places are all easily accessible by train, so pick your favourite and make sure you buy Advance tickets with CrossCountry for great prices.
As the first UNESCO City of Literature in the world, when you visit Edinburgh, you have to travel by the book. The atmospheric city, which has inspired more than 500 novels, has a literary heritage spanning centuries, and is home to some of the world’s most exciting contemporary writers. From the verse of 18th century poet Robert Burns to works of modern-day writers like Ian Rankin and J K Rowling, the city breathes literature.
Top literary highlights:
- Join the award-winning Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour, where you will be led by professional actors on a brilliant and witty romp through Edinburgh’s Old and New Town.
- Visit the sites and haunts of Edinburgh’s literary legends on a literary walking tour to see for yourselves what inspired them.
- Head to the Writers’ Museum devoted to a powerhouse literary trio: Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson.
- The National Library of Scotland runs free year-round exhibitions, and you can always find a tale and a warm welcome at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.
The city of Winchester and its surrounding area have inspired a wealth of literary classics, from Jane Austen’s ‘Sense and Sensibility’ to John Keates’ ‘ode ‘To Autumn’. Winding lanes, pretty houses and the South Downs in the distance make for a perfectly poetic location. Listen to the chimes from the gothic cathedral as you explore the small city on foot.
Top literary highlights:
- Follow in John Keats’ footsteps and take a self-guided walk, passing through the landscape which inspired his famous ode ‘To Autumn’.
- The Winchester Bible is the largest and finest of all surviving 12th-century English bibles and you can view it at Winchester Cathedral.
- Take the Jane Austen Tour and Tea tour at Winchester Cathedral. Get an intimate insight into her life and connections with the cathedral before enjoying delicious tea and cake.
- Visit the Winchester Bookshop for three floors of rare, vintage books.
Oxford has been home to many poets and has educated far more. From Lewis Carroll’s romantic poem ‘Solitude’ to Matthew Arnold’s ‘Cromwell: A Prize Poem’, Oxford is home to some extraordinary poetic events. Some of William Wordsworth’s major books were published here, and Jane Austen and Jonathan Swift among many others were educated in the city. With a plethora of literary events and bookish locations, Oxford is a great city to visit for World Poetry Day.
Top Literary highlights:
- Explore the grounds of Magdalen College where C.S. Lewis tutored English for many years and wrote several of his famous works, including his fictional series The Chronicles of Narnia.
- Stroll through the University of Oxford Botanic Gardens, where you will find the bench where Will and Lyra from Phillip Pullman’s Northern Lights series agree to meet each year.
- Buy a ticket to enter Christ Church College. Alice in Wonderland was dreamt up by Lewis Carroll whilst he studied and taught there, and Harry Potter fans will love the college’s hall which inspired the Great Hall in J K Rowling’s much-loved series.
- Go for a pint at The Eagle and Child pub, the meeting place of “The Inklings”, a literary discussion group that included the likes of C.S Lewis and JRR Tolkien.
Inspired by the hallowed halls of their colleges and surrounding countryside and recalling long days spent on the river or strolling through the city - the character, sights, smells and sounds of Cambridge are celebrated in poetry. From Lord Byron to James Payn, Wordsworth to Tennyson, famous Cambridge poets are plentiful. Explore the exquisite architecture, winding river and leafy green spaces to discover why so many writers, past and present, flocked to Cambridge for inspiration.
Top Literary highlights:
- Tour the city’s colleges to discover their literary connections. Some examples include William Wordsworth at St John’s, Isaac Newton and Bertrand Russell at Trinity, and Salman Rushdie at King’s.
- Enjoy a cuppa and a slice of cake at The Orchard Tea Garden, once the preferred tearoom of literary guests such as Rupert Brooke, M. Forster and Virginia Woolf.
- Order a pint of ‘DNA’ at The Eagle pub. Best well known for being the location of the announcement of the discovery of DNA by Crick and Watson in 1953, an event that is mentioned in Watson’s book The Double Helix.
- The Wren Libraryis one of the University’s most famous libraries, it’s free to visit and highlights include original works by Sir Isaac Newton and A. Milne. You’ll also find a statue of Lord Byron, once a student of Trinity College.
Nottingham is the second city on this list which is recorded as a UNESCO City of Literature. The city has been home to heroes which grace the pages of our favourite books such as Robin Hood, and those who wrote them including Lord Byron and D H Lawrence. The city is home to many literary organisations like Nottingham Playhouse, Nottingham Writers’ Studio and the literary festival, Nottingham Festival of Words.
- Take a stroll around the beautiful parkland of Nottingham’s Arboretum which is said to be the inspiration behind J.M. Barrie’s classic children’s tale Peter Pan.
- Visit Newstead Abbey, once home to romantic poet Lord Byron, and discover its 300 acres of parkland, gardens, lake and beautiful estate. Byron wrote his first poem aged 10, describing Nottingham and his connection to the city.
- Visit the H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum, a recreated miner’s cottage, where you can learn about the birthplace of the famous Nottinghamshire author. Explore the surrounding countryside which inspired his work.
- Browse the books of Bromely House, a library preserved in time with books stacked from floor to ceiling and secret rooms you didn’t know you’d find.
Whichever poetic location you choose to visit for World Poetry day, remember to buy an Advance ticket via our Train Tickets app.