Literary Landscapes in Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset - Jane Austen, Daphne du Maurier, Agatha Christie, Thomas Hardy...
6 days/5 nights
The English counties of Devon, Dorset, Cornwall and Somerset, collectively known as ‘The West Country,’ offer a rich tapestry of literary heritage. Here are the brooding settings for the mystery stories of Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple, the sea side intrigue of Rebecca, mystical King Arthur legends and the still charming landscapes of a time gone by.
If you’ve enjoyed the stories of Jane Austen, Daphne du Maurier, Agatha Christie, Thomas Hardy and Arthur Conan Doyle then this is the tour for you, taking you through the inspirational landscapes for their novels.
This tour is not just for the literary minded, as this is a region with much to offer visitors. For lovers of countryside there are rolling downs, rugged seascapes, atmospheric moorlands and the lush, green country that is so representative of England. Gourmets will die for the cream teas, real Cornish pasties, freshly caught seafood and farmhouse cooking. You’ll never forget the narrow country lanes where the hedgerows grow higher than the cars, the villages where it’s difficult for bicycles to pass let alone other motorized vehicles, the thatched cottage hamlets and small fishing harbors accessible only on foot. This is a true feast for all of the senses!
13 May is Daphne du Maurier’s birthday — the Fowey Festival of Words and Music usually takes place the week around this date annually
This tour begins and ends in London.
DAY ONE Sunday
We depart our London meeting point at 9am, making our way via the old coaching route. We will explore the medieval village of Lacock, which has hardly changed in the past 200 years. With its magnificent abbey, half timbered cottages and greystone houses it provides a perfect setting. This lovely place, where TV ariels, telephone wires and advertising are banned, has been used as a film set for many popular films such as the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle production of Pride and Prejudice, the BBC series of Cranford and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Next is the Georgian city of Bath. Your guide will be on hand for a walking tour of Jane Austen’s city. This place was enjoyed by the social set of the 18th and 19th centuries, a setting for Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and many other writers. Austen fans should recognize several streets and squares from her novels such as Northanger Abbey and Persuasion and we’ll see places where the author herself lived.
As this is our overnight location, you will have free time to go as you please, choose to visit the Jane Austen Centre, the Roman Baths and Pump Rooms or simply wander the antique, book and tea shops as you wish.
NIGHTSTOP: Bath area
DAY TWO Monday
A full day today as we make our way west, via the lovely Wells Cathedral and King Arthur’s reputed burial place and England’s New Age capital of Glastonbury. Here we can discuss the legend of Gwyn ap Nudd, King of the Fairies, while exploring the magical hollow of Glastonbury Tor.
The atmospheric and brooding Dartmoor Moors is our destination, our base for these next few days. This rich landscape is full of literary connections. We can go on the trail of the great Sherlock Holmes detective case The Hound of the Baskervilles, settings on the moors, and uncover the real life dark legend that inspired the best-selling novel. If we’re lucky, we may see some of the famed Dartmoor ponies too!
NIGHTSTOP: Two Bridges/Tavistock area, Dartmoor
DAY THREE Tuesday
The Moors and Coast are our playground, where more famed settings should spring to life from the pages. We will wander the dramatic Cornish coastline around Fowey, so perfectly described in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, and the ‘Smuggler’s Cave’ area of Polperro to discover a bit about her life and times.
If we’re lucky, we might be able to also enjoy festival events of the Fowey Festival, usually held this time of year. First held in 1997, this annual Festival hosted by local villagers usually attracts a marvelous gathering of authors and entertainers.
NIGHT STOP: Dartmoor, as above
DAY FOUR Wednesday
We have Boscastle with its King Arthur and Thomas Hardy connections, Port Isaac of TV show Doc Martin fame and rugged Tintagel Castle, the reputed birthplace of King Arthur, high on top of the wild cliffs accessible only by walking all as options. We may find time to also discover the real ‘Jamaica Inn’ if we wish. This is now a bit of a touristy stop, but fun none the less. Our route today might take us past Lauceston Castle, a Norman round tower with connections to another du Maurier novel, The King’s General.
NIGHT STOP: Dartmoor, as above
DAY FIVE Thursday
Torquay, a very popular seaside resort, has been host to dozens of vacationing authors over the years, but we will call in for a visit since it is the birthplace of one of the greatest mystery writers of all time, Agatha Christie. Here we can explore landmarks from both her life and settings for her Miss Marple novels plus visit her nearby home of Greenways, now protected by the National Trust.
Another stop today is Lyme Regis. This is part of Britain’s ‘Jurassic Park’ so perhaps the very lucky might find a fossil along the shoreline. Lyme Regis, which was a popular sea spa town and the site of many Austen family holidays, looks much as it did when Jane spent time here, and sites from Persuasion are recognizable.
Our evening will be spent near Thomas Hardy’s ‘Casterbridge,’ the village of Dorchester.
NIGHT STOP: Dorchester area
DAY SIX Friday
Today is our day to explore the world of Thomas Hardy, far from the madding crowd. Dorsetshire was his canvas and our course can meander through one or two of the timeless villages that were his inspiration. During our time, we can visit his birthplace, Hardy’s Cottage.
This afternoon, en-route back to London, some time for iconic Salisbury to pay our respects inside the stunning Salisbury Cathedral and see one of the greatest pieces of writing, the Magna Carta.
We will return back to London by evening. Accommodation is available for a supplemental fee.
Please note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website. While we will do our utmost to include all of the properties mentioned as central visits, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to deliver a planned visit due to changes in opening days or times that we could not have been aware of at the time of loading this tour to our website.
Oft imitated, never duplicated! This is an original SGT itinerary, property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT.