Britain’s top 10 poetry walks

Walk in the footsteps of some of Britain’s greatest poets and discover the landscapes that inspired their famous works – from Wordsworth's Lake District to Austen's Hampshire

1. Wordsworth walks in the Lake District
Above the Wasdale Inn rises Wasdale Fell, a favourite with trail runners ©Martin Jones

The Lake District boasts many connections to William Wordsworth. There are many great ways to explore the landscape that inspired this great novelist and poet. This venerable Wasdale Head Inn, hidden within the valleys and mountains of the Cumbria, is as good a starting point as any. Find out what inspired these great writers with a five-mile walk

2. Poet’s Walk, Clevedon, Somerset
View of the Victorian pier at Clevedon in Somerset, UK. As well as providing access for promenaders it is still used as a landing stage in summer for passengers embarking on trips around the coastline and across the Bristol Channel to South Wales
Clevedon Pier stretches out into the Severn Estuary ©Getty

An area said to have inspired Tennyson and Coleridge, Poet’s Walk can be completed in a circular route along the coast and through woodland. The path also takes you over Church Hill and Wains Hill, an Iron Age hill fort. Enjoy far reaching views of Clevedon town and its Grade 1 listed pier, the Severn Estuary and on a clear day, the Welsh coast.

3. Poets Paths, Dymock, Gloucestershire

The countryside surrounding Dymock was the stomping ground of a group of romantic poets including Robert Frost, Edward Thomas and Wilfrid Gibson. In 1990 a descendant of Edward Thomas opened two Poets Paths that start at the village and, over eight miles, pass by the poets’ homes. The poets also have connections to May Hill and the Malvern Hills, which are easily reachable via connecting paths.

4. Shakespeare’s way, Warwickshire
This long distance path links Stratford upon Avon to London ©Getty

This route of bridle paths and country lanes is said to roughly echo the route that Shakespeare may have taken when travelling between his home in Stratford- Upon-Avon and his Globe Theatre in London. In its entirety the trail covers a grand 146 miles. Walkers will pass close to the Rollright Stones and through the Cotswolds, Blenheim Park, the Chiltern Hills and the Thames Valley. Find out more about the Shakespeares Way.

5. Keats’ Walk, Winchester, Hampshire

Visit the landscape that is said to have inspired the romantic poet John Keats’ Ode to Autumn, which was written during his stay in the city in 1819. Keats’ Walk runs from the city to St Cross, and follows the paths he took on his daily walks, past the cathedral and through the water meadows.

6. The South Downs, Sussex
The landscape surrounding the South Downs Way has inspired many poets ©Getty

Described in poems by Algernon Swinburne, Hilaire Belloc and Rudyard Kipling, the “green, smooth-swelling, unending” South Downs have been called the “great hills of the south country.” Follow the 100-mile South Downs Way through countryside and along the coast, or explore the history, wildlife and villages that make up the landscape. Explore a short section of this long distance trail with a walk along the Cuckmere River.

7. The Elwy Valley, Denbigshire, North Wales

Unpublished until after his death, 19th-century poet and priest Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote of the beauty of the Welsh landscape in his poem In the Valley of the Elwy. The AA’s With the Poet to Mynydd y Gaer takes you from Llannefydd village and over one of the Clwyds hills, with views of the Elwy Valley and the Afon Elwy along the way.

8. DH Lawrence walk, Eastwood, Nottinghamshire
Portrait of novelist D H Lawrence
Although D H Lawrence is better known for his novels, his first works were poems ©Getty

This six-mile walk around East Midlands countryside covers ground that inspired the poems of D.H Lawrence, who lived in the area. The route runs from Colliers Wood nature reserve through farmland and hills to the ruins of a 14th-century priory. A museum dedicated to the writer is located in nearby Eastwood, where a short D H Lawrence trail takes you through landmarks of his life. Find out more about the walk.

9. John Clare walks, Helpston, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

There are many popular walks near the village of Helpston that are connected to John Clare and the time he spent living in the area. Explore the Swaddywell walk that takes in his favourite places, such as Oxey Wood where it is said he listened to bird song, or the Heath Hills and Holes walk that passes Southorpe Meadow and Walcot Hall. Find out more about walks in Clare Country.

10. Jane Austen walk, Hampshire
GX1DYX St Nicholas Church nestled amongst the trees on the Chawton House parkland, Hampshire, UK
Stevenson in Hampshire was Austen’s home for the first 25 years of her life ©Getty

A 4.5mile walk takes you from Chawton, near Alton, to Farringdon, passing points of interest relating to Jane Austen’s life in Hampshire. Starting at Chawton, where she spent her last few years, follow a disused railway line and tree lined paths to the village of Farringdon, which she often visited. There is also a shorter Jane Austen Trail, which takes you from Alton High Street to Chawton. Find out more about the landscapes that inspired Jane Austen’s work.


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