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Take the train … to literary hotspots for World Book Day

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Bookworms will be rejoicing on March 1 2012 – as it’s World Book Day. And taking the train to one of the UK’s literary hotspots is the perfect way to mark the occasion.

Read on to find out which cities we think make the best destination for a literary city break – and make sure you journey planner for cheap train tickets, so you’ll have more to spend while you’re there.

Take the train to Oxford…

…and track down Inspector Morse. The popular fictional detective, created by author Colin Dexter, worked for the Thames Valley Police in Oxford, and you can take a guided tour to see many of the locations featured in the books and the hit TV series.

Must-see places for Morse fans include:

• The Randolph Hotel – the site of the murder of the American tourist in the TV episode ‘The Jewel That Was Ours’ which was later turned into a novel. You can even take a tipple in the hotel’s Morse Bar – where the inspector has often been filmed deliberating over complex cases.

• The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology – which featured in the TV show episode ‘The Wolvercote Tongue’.

• The Oxford Canal – in the novel ‘The Wench is Dead’, Morse investigates an old case in which a body which was found floating in the Oxford Canal, and another body is discovered in the water in the novel ‘The Riddle of the Third Mile’ (filmed as ‘The Last Enemy’). However, the canal wasn’t used as a location for the filming of ‘The Wench is Dead’ – the Kennet and Avon Canal was used instead.

• The Eagle and Child – this pub was used regularly as a location in the TV series, and Colin Dexter also used to frequent it.

• Brasenose College – Lonsdale College was Dexter’s own creation, but Brasenose College was used as the location for the Lonsdale scenes in the TV series.

However, Oxford isn’t just the home of Inspector Morse, so literature lovers will find plenty more to see and do during their visit. Take the train to Oxford and you can take tours to see locations relating to Lewis Carroll, C.S.Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien and more.

Take the train to London…

London has a rich literary heritage, so book lovers will find a wide range of things to do when they visit the Big Smoke. Jump on a train to London and follow in the footsteps of your favourite authors and their fictional creations.

Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s pipe-smoking sleuth, is big news again, due to the success of the BBC’s recent adaptations – and you can explore some of his favourite haunts and locations from both the books and the TV series during your trip to the capital.

London Walks offers a guided Sherlock-themed walking tour, taking you to a range of locations, including Charing Cross and the Strand, before culminating with a visit to 221B Baker Street – the home of the fictional detective and now the Sherlock Holmes Museum.

But if you’re not a Holmes fan, there’s plenty more literary London tours to choose from too – London Walks offers tours of ‘Charles Dickens’ London’, ‘Literary Bloomsbury and the Old Museum Quarter’, ‘The London of Oscar Wilde’ and more.

There are also a number of other tour companies providing literary-themed tours within the city but you can also take a self-guided tour – you’ll find details of a ‘Writers Walk’ tour on the London for Free website, for example.

Take the train to Bath…

…and immerse yourself in the world of Jane Austen. Austen lived in this beautiful spa city between 1801 and 1806, and two of her novels, ‘Northanger Abbey’ and ‘Persuasion’ were set here.

Visit Bath offers a free downloadable audio tour on its website and a number of companies based in the city also offer guided tours.

Highlights for Austen fans include:

• the Assembly Rooms and the Pump Room, both of which were popular with visitors and residents of the city during the Georgian period and feature in Austen’s novels

• the Royal Crescent, with its stunning Georgian townhouses

• The Jane Austen Centre, where you can see exhibits relating to life in Bath during the regency period and enjoy some time out in the regency-themed tea rooms.

Take the train to Edinburgh…

The Scottish capital is well-known as a centre for culture – jump on board a train to Edinburgh

Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin based his Inspector Rebus novels in and around the city, and you can now take a Rebus walking tour to see some of the locations mentioned in the books.

Other literary tours on offer in the city include:

• Robert Louis Stevenson walking tours, on which you can see the childhood home of the author of works such as ‘Kidnapped’, ‘Treasure Island’ and ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ as well as other places of significance in his life.

• The Lost World Literary Pub Crawl, on which you can explore sites related to authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Burns and J.M Barrie whilst indulging in a pint or two.

• The Robert Burns Walking Trail, a free self-guided walking tour, details of which can be found on the Edinburgh City of Literature website.

But wherever you’re heading off to on your literary tour, don’t forget to check our journey planner for cheap train tickets first – you can use the money you save on your fares to pick up the latest blockbuster to read on the way.

Which town or city brings out the bookworm in you? Let us know below…

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