Britain's best literary forests
Get your creative juices flowing with a ramble among the woods that inspired literary legends
Britain's forests, woodlands and trees have inspired the work of some of our most legendary literary figures, including Roald Dahl, JK Rowling and CS Lewis.
Step into Hundred Acre Wood, wooded Whispering Island and Narnia with our selection of the best literary forests in the UK.
Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire
The ancient beeches of Angling Spring and Hobshill Woods near Great Missenden inspired Roald Dahl to set his story about a very clever fox here. Fantastic Mr Fox hides from the three dastardly farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean beneath the roots of the witches tree.
Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire
Surely the most iconic forest of legend, Sherwood Forest is home to the Major Oak, thought to be 1,000 years old. If this behemoth could speak, it could confirm if it had once been a hideaway for the outlaw Robin Hood and his gang of Merry Men.
Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
JK Rowling lived on the edge of the Forest of Dean as a teenager, so it’s no surprise that Harry and Hermione apparate among its ash trees in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The forest was also used as a location for the film series.
Brownsea Island, Dorset
The thickly wooded island that was the birthplace of the Scouts movement also inspired an author of iconic adventure stories for children. Brownsea Island became Whispering Island in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books.
Moseley Bog, West Midlands
JRR Tolkien’s childhood playground became the inspiration for the forests that the brave hobbits adventure through in The Lord of the Rings. Listen out for the trees “whispering to each other, passing news and plots along in an unintelligible language”.
Rostrevor, County Down
There’s no need to step into a wardrobe to find Narnia. Head to the grounds of Campbell College in Northern Ireland to see the old-fashioned gas lamp that inspired CS Lewis, then follow in the footsteps of Lucy and Mr Tumnus in Rostrevor Forest, which Lewis described as “my idea of Narnia”.
Ashdown Forest, East Sussex
Keep your eyes peeled for honey-loving bears, friendly piglets and energetic tiggers in Ashdown Forest, immortalised by AA Milne – who lived near the forest – as Hundred Acre Wood in Winnie the Pooh.
Sian Lewis is an award-winning outdoors and travel writer and blogger who focuses on sharing beginner-friendly adventures in the wildest corners of Britain.