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Wander the Byways That Inspired Great Britons From Potter to Kipling

// Travel

Summer may be over, but the great outdoors never closes - and you can see some of the best of Britain's countryside during the National Trust's second annual walking festival.

The Great British Walk celebrates the wealth of great trails at beautiful places all over the country. Among these special places are the homes or areas associated with some of our greatest artists, poets and writers - including Beatrix Potter, Rudyard Kipling and John Constable - who were inspired by the natural world around them...

POET'S PARADISE

Samuel Taylor Coleridge and fellow poet and friend William Wordsworth changed the face of English poetry with the birth of the Romantic Movement.

Coleridge Cottage, at Nether Stowey, Somerset, was his home for three years from 1797 and it was where he wrote his finest work, including Kubla Khan.

Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy were regular visitors and the three would walk in the surrounding Quantock hills.

A three-to-four-hour walk through woods and valleys from Nether Stowey to Dowsborough Castle hill fort will take you through a part of the Quantocks they particularly loved.

A STROLL WITH SHAW 

Playwright and author George Bernard Shaw lived for more than 40 years at Shaw's Corner in Ayot St Lawrence, Hertfordshire. Here, he entertained film stars and other celebrities of his day.

Shaw enjoyed walking and his daily stroll around the village resulted in his final work, the charming Rhyming Picture Guide To Ayot St Lawrence. 

He also walked regularly to Wheathampstead, and to Lamer Park in Gustard Wood for Sunday lunch with his close friend, the Antarctic explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard.

A circular 7.6-mile walk from Shaw's Corner to Wheathamstead follows in Shaw's footsteps.

You can learn more about Shaw on a guided walk on Saturday, October 27, led by Lizzie Dunford, Assistant House Steward at Shaw's Corner. For details contact 01438 820307.

PERFECT LANDSCAPES 

John Constable painted many idyllic views of the Stour Valley and Dedham Vale area, and they remain easily recognisable today.

Thousands of visitors walk through Constable Country and enjoy the magnificent views that inspired him - water meadows grazed by cattle, small fields surrounded by hedges and trees, church towers and half-timbered cottages.

A four- or seven-mile loop takes you from Manningtree to Flatford - the riverside hamlet that was the setting for several Constable paintings including The Hay Wain and The Mill Stream. 

POTTERING WITH BEATRIX 

Beatrix Potter is inextricably linked to the Lake District, where her home - Hill Top, near Sawrey - is a treasure trove of mementoes from her life. 

She had known the Lakes since childhood and Hill Top and the surrounding area inspired many of her best-known books, such as The Tale Of Mr Jeremy Fisher, while her house and garden feature in many more, including The Tale Of Tom Kitten and The Tale Of Jemima Puddleduck.

In 1930, Potter bought the 4,000 acres of Monk Coniston Estate, including Tarn Hows, which she managed for the National Trust. A 1.6-mile walk follows the trail from Tom Gill to Tarn Hows. 

GHOSTS AND SHADOWS 

Bateman's in Burwash, East Sussex, was the home of author and poet Rudyard Kipling and his wife Carrie and includes his atmospheric book-lined study and wonderful collections.

The 300 acres of countryside around the house influenced works such as Puck Of Pook's Hill, Rewards And Fairies and many of his poems. The folklore of the area fascinated him, and he felt the valleys to be 'alive with ghosts and shadows'. 

Many of the sights mentioned in 'Puck' can still be seen, including the Little Mill 'that clacks, so busy by the brook' and the millstream banks. There is a 2.5-mile walk around the Bateman's estate.

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