It is through traveling overseas that we often find perspective, rest and inspiration. Sometimes we feel the need to step foot on new territory to spark creativity.
But there is something to be said about the inspiration that lies within our own backyard – much, much closer than we think. While the UK undoubtedly boasts great metropolises and towns, writers, filmmakers, poets, painters, and the like have been drawing inspiration from the English countryside for centuries.
With its rolling hills blanketed in pastures, deep mysterious forests, jutting mountains, and jagged cliffs sharply contrasting with the soft blue waters below, it is no wonder great literary works and masterpieces find their birthplace right here at home.
Take the beloved JRR Tolkien. Despite most of the filming taking place in New Zealand for The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films, it was from the English landscape that he drew his inspiration for the fictional Middle Earth.
Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility is famously associated with the southern region of Devon.
And how could we forget JK Rowling and Harry Potter? Some of the most dramatic and striking scenes between Harry and Voldemort were set throughout the UK.
In honor of National Parks Week here in the UK, we want to celebrate the landscapes that inspired Beatrix Potter, J.M.W. Turner, William Wordsworth, Matthew Arnold and so many more.
Below are a few of the great places that we love and a bit of the inspiration they provide. Grab your rain jacket and hit the trails this week (and every week!)
The Lake District
There is serenity to be drawn from deep, glacial lakes tucked in by mountains. The Lake District is England’s largest National Park and home to its tallest mountain as well as its deepest lake. With 16 main lakes and trails of varying skill levels and landscapes, options are plentiful.
It is only two hours from Manchester.
If you fancy more water, head for the coastline and explore Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which boasts 620 sq km of beaches, cliffs, harbours, and coves.
If you are looking for tranquility, look no further than Northumberland. This landscape is full of rolling hills, hay meadows, and gentle mountains. Take a walk alongside history by visiting Hardrian’s Wall or seek out solitude in the wide-open spaces of Cheviot Hills. It is also home to the largest area of protected night sky in all of Europe.
As an added bonus for the lovers of poetry, there is a special app that you can download called “Poems in the Air”. The app contains maps and directions of all the locations within Northumberland that inspired poet Simon Armitage’s writing.
Like Northumberland, Exmoor is also a part of the Dark Sky reserve. Its unique landscape offers a variety of high cliffs, woodland and valleys. Its moorland also provides a sense of remoteness, rare in southern Britain. Yet, perhaps one of the most charming attributes of this area are trails that wind you through swathes of bluebells.
And if you’re lucky, you may also catch a glimpse of wild red deer or Exmoor ponies.
Exmoor is located less than an hour from Exeter.
With views to humble, Snowdonia offers an impressive mountain range with Snowden claiming the title of the highest mountain in Wales. While the mountains occupy approximately half of the park, there are also picturesque green valleys, waterfalls, and steep gorges. It also boasts 23 miles of coastline with sand dune backed beaches.
Snowdonia is approximately 2 hours from Manchester.
The New Forest
If you seek tall trees and soft forest floors, take a trip to the New Forest. In this national park, you can find ancient oaks that are 400 to 800 years old, with some of the oldest thought to be 1,000 years old.
These trees are important habitats for wildlife too, including many rare and threatened species.
While the New Forest also offers a coastline of saltmarsh, lagoons and mudflats, the twisted bark and mysterious ancient trees make it easy to see why so many writers have found inspiration here.
The Peak District
The Peak District is England’s first national park and full of interesting geology and family-friendly trails.
Formerly railway, there are now 34 miles of trail to access. The gritstone is found in the Dark Peak, where most of the moorland is also located. The White Peak is where you will find the limestone as well as panoramic views of the park from the Parsley Hay trail.
It is a great place for cycling, walking, rock climbing and wildlife watching.
We know there is endless beauty in England…did your favourite spot make the list?
If not, tell us where you like to go!