5 Bookish Bucket-List Locations in the British Isles
If you're anything like me, you love to combine a short break with an excuse to absorb the bookish vibes of a destination.
And while I long to cast my net further afield and visit literary locations abroad, it has to be said that we have some top-notch destinations on our doorstep in the British Isles.
I've excluded the rather obvious Stratford upon Avon and selected five other seductive hot-spots for book lovers.
1. Haworth: Haunt of the Brontes
By ianpudsey, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53319293
If quaint and quirky is your thing, then Haworth is a book-lover's dream. Visit the Bronte parsonage and indulge in the landscape of the legendary Cathy and Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights fame.
The village itself will capture your attention with its steep, cobbled main street punctuated with charming cafes and independent shops. At the brow of the hill is the fabulous Cabinet of Curiosities, a family-owned business specialising in Victoriana-style gifts and products - including mustard bath powder. It is possible to while away several rhapsodic hours in this glorious shop - and it's a godsend if you're looking for gifts that are just that little bit different!
2. Hay-on-Wye: Town of Books
Nestling on the Welsh side of the England/Wales border is Hay-on-Wye, a small market town with with a big reputation: Town of Books.
As well as being home to well over twenty second-hand and antiquarian bookshops, Hay-on-Wye hosts the annual Hay Festival, described by Bill Clinton as the 'Woodstock of the mind'.
At the end of May/start of June half a million visitors crowd into this town of only about 1500 residents. Great to visit all year round, this town must surely be on any bibliophile's bucket-list.
3. Dublin: UNESCO City of Literature
Dublin's laurel of City of Literature (UNESCO) says it all. There's no escaping this city's unrivalled literary heritage, with a bookish landmark at every turn.
Peruse the vast number of books in Trinity College (it is legally entitled to copy of every book published) or soak up the atmosphere in local bookshops, pubs and eateries that boast impressive literary provenance.
Find out a whole lot more by reading my article published here.
4. Lake District: The Lakes Poets
The Lake District is synonymous with literary greats, from the great lakeland poets like William Wordsworth to the iconic Beatrix Potter. Grasmere is a good choice of base for exploring the literary landscape, including Dove Cottage, where Wordsworth set up home in 1799 after returning the Lake District - the landscape that inspired some of his greatest poetry.
A popular tourist destination, this national park can get rather busy during the summer months, so if it's a spot of seclusion you're after them the autumn and winter months offer spectacular vistas and a dramatic environment for a break away. It's easy to see why Mary Shelley - author of Frankenstein - was inspired by its gothic elements. Wordsworth, too, speaks of the mountainous peaks as living beings in The Prelude.
This region is great for hiking, water sports, and - of course - soaking up literary heritage.
5. Southwold: George Orwell's Home Town
Most of us associate George Orwell - born Eric Blair - with his nomadic exploits abroad, but it was actually in the picturesque seaside town of Southwold on the Suffolk coast that he grew up and penned his first novel.
Apparently, Orwell had a very intense love affair while living here, which he later alluded to in 1984. And his sister Avril was a well-known personality in the town, where she owned a rather posh teashop.
Southwold is a great place for Orwell fans to visit, with the slightly more sedate coastal town of Aldeburgh just a few miles down the coast.