In celebration of National Parks Week, here are a few UK beauty spots and some of their literary links.
According to the Exmoor National Park website, Exmoor has a history dating back to Mesolithic times. The activities of the people who lived on the land over this time have shaped the land, as well as the landscape of our literature.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge spent much time visiting Exmoor, bringing his literary friends with him. Apparently, Kubla Khan was written after a drug-induced sleep while he was staying nearby. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner was devised during a walk to Exmoor with Wordsworth.
William Wordsworth spent a year living in Exmoor with his sister so that they could be close to Coleridge. The three of them spent a lot of time together. The result of this close friendship was Lyrical Ballads.
Charles Kingsley, author of The Water Babies, lived nearby in North Devon and often visited Exmoor, making notes in his diary.
The New Forest National Park is the place to go to pay homage to some literary greats, resting in peace. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is buried here, as well as Alice Liddell, C.S. Lewis’s inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.
The Lake District, the first UK national park to be awarded world heritage status, is the place to go to hit as many literary greats as possible in one visit.
Apparently, the village of Greendale in the Postman Pat books of John Cunliffe inspired by Longsleddale during the six years he spent living in Kendal.
Beatrix Potter, author of those magical childrens’ books, famously lived in the Lake District. More than just being inspired by the landscape, she became a one-woman crusader, saving the beautiful Cumbrian landscape from the hands of developers. When she died, her will gifted all of the lands she had acquired to the National Trust, ensuring that they would always be conserved.
On Lake Windermere, you will find a small collection of islands that looks rather familiar. If you’re anything like me, this will lead to some pointing and squeaks of “that’s them, that’s them!” They are, of course, the islands that feature so prominently as the setting of Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome.
And lastly, we mustn’t forget, our old friend Wordsworth wandering lonely as a cloud through the dramatic landscape.
Do you know of other UK national parks with literary links? Let me know in the comment box below.