By Suah Cheong, American Forests
Whether I’m lost in a book or glued to the screen, there’s nothing I appreciate more than vivid, well-forged imagery. One of my favorite novels of all time is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. What makes the book so special to me is Ms. Bronte’s meticulous attention to detail; her rich descriptions of the moors and the cold, stormy weather turn the story into a compelling one. Luckily for me, whenever I get a hankering to escape to English countryside, I’m not limited to just reading Wuthering Heights, or watching its film adaption. Given the time and proper resources, I could get on a plane and journey to the very locations that inspired the book.
Here are 5 other fictional places that exist in real life:
The House at Pooh Corner and the Hundred Acre Wood
A. A. Milne’s real life “House at Pooh Corner” was recently put on the market! The gorgeous 9.5-acre property was where the author lived with his family and wrote Winnie the Pooh. According to Smithsonian Magazine, “the estate includes an apple orchard, a summer house, a swimming pool, landscaped gardens and even a statue of Christopher Robin. That’s fitting as the real Christopher Robin, Christopher Robin Milne, once resided in the home, and his stuffed animals served as fodder for his father’s stories in the years after World War I.” The property is also in close proximity to Ashdown Forest — the real-life inspiration for the Hundred Acre Wood. The house also has a not-so-fun tie to music history: Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones owned the house in the ’60s, and drowned in the pool!
J.R.R. Tolkien modeled the Shire after his childhood home of Sarehole, in the U.K. By the time Sir Peter Jackson began scouting for places to film his adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, Sarehole had since been sucked into the industrialization of nearby Birmingham, and he had to improvise. In 1998, he and his crew came across Alexander farm, a stunning 1,250 acre sheep farm near Matamata in New Zealand. The surrounding areas had no power lines, buildings or roads in sight— a dream come true for the director and producer. The property was eventually opened up to the public after filming finished and you can visit the set today!
The Hogwarts Express
Harry Potter fans, rejoice — you can hop on the actual train used for the Hogwarts Express! Originally opened in 1901, and re-introduced as a scenic route in 1984, The Jacobite steam train runs a total of 41 miles between Fort William and Mallaig. It is considered one of the world’s premier scenic routes. You can also stop by Glen Coe, which was used in multiple Harry Potter films as the set of Hagrid’s hut, and is home to the bridge leading to Hogwarts’ entrance. You can book your train ticket here.
The Overlook Hotel
The haunted Overlook Hotel from Stephen King’s The Shining was inspired by The Stanley in Estes Park, Colo. When the author and his wife stayed at the hotel for the night, they were mysteriously the only guests in the entire place — King was convinced, however, that they were not truly alone, which moved him to write his famous novel. Read more about the history of The Stanley here. Fans of the Stanley Kubrick film should also consider making a trip to Timberline Lodge in Oregon’s Mount Hood National Forest. This is where many of the exterior scenes for the film were filmed.
Paradise Falls in Pixar’s UP was based on Angel Falls in Venezuela! The Pixar team actually visited the site in person to get a feel for the area before they began animating the film. At the western end of Canaima National Park lies the enormous Auyantepui, or “House of the Devil,” which is home to Angel Falls. Measuring a total of 3,212 feet, and with a single plunge of 2,648 feet, Angel Falls is the tallest waterfall on Earth.