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There has never been a better time to theme your travel adventures around the stunning places that inspired Roald Dahl’s books or were used as film locations, from the Old Man of Hoy in the Orkneys used as the giant land in The BFG, to The Headland Hotel, Newquay, location for the The Witches, these places are magical, just like Dahl’s books. With The BFG hitting UK screens on July 22nd 2016 and Roald Dahl’s centenary on September 13th, the UK is fit to bursting with Dahl inspired adventures.
This map gives you over 100 ideas for Roald Dahl locations to visit, they are divided into three categories:
- his life and book inspirations
- locations from the films made of his books, including The BFG, in the UK and beyond
- Dahl themed museums, activities, theatre and adventures
From Charlie and the Chocolate factory themed afternoon tea in York or London, to an interactive journey into Dahl’s life in Cardiff, to year long Roald Dahl inspired fun in Tatton Park, Cheshire – the possibilities are endless. We’ve even mapped out the celebrity BFG inspired ‘dream jars’ in London if you fancy coming face to face with Sadiq Khan or Zoella’s dreams.
Click on the icons below for more information on each location and for an overview of all of the locations click on the pull-out tab on the left of the title bar:
(Feel free to embed this map onto your own site, just please credit A Residence with the creation. To embed, just click on the Google share icon on the map and opt for ‘Embed on my site’. This will generate an embed code, which you can copy and paste in to your post.)
11 Fizzpopping places to follow in Dahl’s Big Friendly Footsteps
Without further ado, here are 11 amazing places in the UK to have big, friendly, fizzpoppingly, fantastic adventures.
1. Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire.
Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire was Dahl’s home for over 30 years, it is where he wrote his most famous children’s stories and it’s incredible how much you can learn about Dahl’s writing from visiting this beautiful little English village.
The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre
You can see Dahl’s actual desk which, without giving too much away, is jam packed with photos and objects that seem to have inspired and woven their way into his books. It is utterly fascinating and super inspiring. It’s a small but hands on museum, try out stop motion and bring together a pirate, ray, tiger and an elephant – story inspiration comes from giving yourself permission to play.
The Nag’s Head
The Nag’s Head was Dahl’s local, now a fantabulous gastro pub, the food is dahlicious! You can actually see the pub animated in Wes Anderson’s film Fantastic, Mr Fox, which cunningly included many elements of Dahl’s real world, including his ‘nest’ desk.
Angling Spring Wood and Atkins Wood
Take a leaflet to guide you from the Roald Dahl Museum and head into the woods that inspired Danny Champion of the World. If you have read this book, or had it read to you as a child, it’s wonderful to imagine Danny and his father creeping through the woods, or Dahl telling his grandchildren ghost stories under the railway bridge.
Great Missenden Library
This tiny 1970s style village library is where Dahl imagined Matilda going, while her Mum took a train from Great Missenden Station to play Bingo in Amersham. Across the road is the post office where he received up to 4000 fan letters a week. There is a leaflet in the museum which explains many of the key locations in the village that inspired Dahl.
The Petrol Pumps, High Street
These vintage pumps inspired Danny’s Dad’s Garage in Danny Champion of the World, as you wander around Great Missenden, it becomes so clear where Dahl picked up so many seeds of ideas for his stories, the pumps are right next to…
This was where Dahl imagined Sophie’s bedroom in the orphanage to be, was it the tiny gabled window where the BFG appears, or one of the windows nestled just under the roof – what do you think?
Church Of St Peter and St Paul
The graveyard where Dahl is buried, is a really moving site to visit, I won’t spoil it, but his children have created a memorial to him, using words from The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me, that seems to absolutely capture the spirit of Dahl’s work, and I imagine, the man himself.
2. Hatfield House, Hertfordshire.
Gary Bembridge, Flickr.
Hatfield House was used as the location of the Salt family house in the film of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it has been used as the location of lots of films including Paddington and Tomb Raider, it has stunning examples of Jacobean architecture, a farm park, extensive gardens, so well worth a film inspired visit.
3. Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland.
This stunning landmark Bamburgh Castle was used as the backdrop in The BFG. Giant footprints were created in the sand on the beach, and then barrels of water were pumped over them to create the impression of the tide washing the footprints away. It’s a beautifully, breathtaking part of the world to visit and Bamburgh castle, which is just as stunning inside, has also been featured in Macbeth and in the ITV Drama Beowulf.
York is famous for making chocolate. York’s Nestle Rowntree factory produced 1000s of chocolate bars for the Johnny Depp blockbuster Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It is the city for chocolate lovers! There are so many chocolatey things to do here, take the Chocolate Trail from the Visitor’s Centre, or book in for a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed afternoon tea at The Grand Hotel every second Sunday of the month.
Skye and Orkney provided the backdrop for the magically otherworldly giant land of The BFG. The Quiraing, The Storr and the Fairy Glen and the Old Man of Hoy in the Orkneys were reported as the exact locations used. The Scottish Islands are somewhere everyone must go at least once, to truly appreciate the awe inspiring landscape. My kids loved Skye when we took our motorhome trip around Scotland.
6. Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
Darling Starlings on Flickr
Look out for The BFG popping up in the Italian gardens of this breathtaking 18th palace. There is a miniature train, a butterfly house and a giant maze – plenty of big friendly adventures to have! It was also used for the filming of Spectre (007), Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation and Cinderella.
There has never been a better time to visit London, there are so many Dahlesque adventures to be had!
As seen in this clip below, Sophie and the BFG make the journey to the Queen’s London Residence, Buckingham Palace, to warn her of the danger of the fearsome child-eating giants of Giant County.
The House of Illustration
London is also home to the museum set up by Roald Dahl’s partner in storytelling, the man who illustrated his books, Quentin Blake. The House of Illustration, near Kings Cross, has a Quentin Blake gallery and an exhibition of never before seen pictures of Blake’s illustrations, ‘The BFG in Pictures’ until 2 October 2016.
The BFG Dream Jars
This phizz-whizzing public art trail will see the childhood dreams and aspirations of celebrities and top artists such as Steven Spielberg, Sophie Dahl, Mark Rylance and Quentin Blake placed in GIANT six foot jars located in iconic spots like Trafalgar Square, see the map for many more locations! Zoella’s hedgehog has me intrigued…
Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Musicals
Matilda the musical is at the Cambridge Theatre, it has to be the best musical I have seen for children, so incredibly slick, fast paced and funny, do read my Matilda review if you are considering it. I have yet to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is at Drury Lane, but it is definitely next on our list!
The icing on the cake would be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed afternoon tea at One Aldwych.
8. Cadbury World, Birmingham.
As a child Dahl was invited to test chocolate for Cadbury and as an adult ate up to 4 bars of Dairy Milk a day – collecting the foil over the years and wrapping it up to make a ‘cannon ball’ which sat by his desk – this love of chocolate combined into Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Cadbury World is the site of the Bournville model village, and is packed with fascinating social history as well as being a chocolate factory and fun packed attraction. There are 14 themed zones, where you can find out about chocolate production, taste plenty of chocolate and see it being made. The place to have a chocolate factory experience, you can read about our first visit here, and a Christmas time Cadbury World treat here.
9. The White Cliffs of Dover
The White Cliffs of Dover are stunningly iconic and beautiful as they stand, but they are also the setting for the climax of James and the Giant Peach. Follow in James’ footsteps and see where he launched the peach off the cliffs to escape his evil aunts. Unlike James you must stick to the path and stay away from the edge while appreciating this breathtaking stretch of coastline. There are lots more ideas for fun things to do in Dover, including boat trips and castle here.
10. The Headland Hotel, Newquay Cornwall
The film adaptation of The Witches was filmed in part at the Headland Hotel, Newquay. You are guaranteed a more relaxing stay than the book’s narrator and his Grandmother – they foil a world wide plot, by a convention of witches at the hotel, to rid the world of children – the hotel is a 4 star spa hotel.
Roald Dahl plass, Cardiff
Tony Hisgett, Flickr
In 2002 this stunning public space in Cardiff was renamed to honour the life and works of Roald Dahl who was born in Cardiff.
Norwegian Church, Cardiff
Ben Salter, Flickr.
Just down from Roald Dahl Plass is this pretty little church in Cardiff Bay where Roald Dahl and his siblings were baptised. Roald Dahl was born to Norwegian parents in Fairwater Road in Llandaff, Cardiff. His father Harald, from Oslo, co-founded a ship-broking company in Cardiff around 1880. Roald spent his childhood and school days in Cardiff. His family worshipped at the Norwegian Church when it was in its original location in the Cardiff Docks, the church fell into disuse and a campaign started to preserve and restore it, it was successfully relocated as the area was regenerated and became an arts centre. I loved exploring Cardiff Bay, there is so much to do here with kids!
The Wondercrump Exhibition, Cardiff
Cardiff is also home to the Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl from 12 Aug 2016 until 14 Jan 2017.
Embark on a magical and interactive journey and discover the secrets of Dahl’s extraordinary life and the surprising inspiration for his most famous characters and stories. The tour features unique items from the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre archives. Plus there are interactive installations to spark the imagination and test your own powers of creativity.
Blue plaque, Llandaff, Cardiff
A blue plaque now marks the former sweet shop in Llandaff, where Roald and his friends played a trick on the miserable owner Mrs Pratchett, by putting a mouse in a jar of gobstoppers.
Stay in Dahl’s childhood holiday home, Tenby.
If you are looking for a truly authentic Roald Dahl holiday, why not try and book The Cabin? This holiday cottage in Tenby has been awarded a blue plaque to mark the fact that Roald Dahl, used to stay here at Easter every year during his childhood and adolescence, until just before World War II.
A final shout out for Illyria’s open air touring production of Danny Champion of the World, which has too many locations to fit on the map! There are lots more temporary activities labelled on the map, so do check out what’s happening near you.
14 fizz whizzing ways to enjoy Roald Dahl adventures at home too!
Get crafty and creative at home this summer with these Roald Dahl inspired activities, just click the link to find out all about Willy Wonka play dough, dahlicious recipes, fantastic fox masks, revolting recipes and George’s mud kitchen to name a few.
Have a dahlicious time whatever you choose to do! Have we missed anything Dahl related on the map? Do let me know in the comments! I will leave you with the trailer.
- For more ideas and inspiration on holidays at home, visit www.visitengland.com
- THE BFG will be released nationwide on 22 July
- Roald Dahl’s centenary is on 17 September, when the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre will become the Museum of the Unexpected. Check www.roalddahl.com/museum for more information
- Chiltern Railways operates services from London Marylebone to destinations in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands. Chiltern’s services are now running from Oxford Parkway to London Marylebone and will launch from Oxford in December 2016.www.chilternrailways.co.uk