May 4th 2016

2016 marks 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare and the world is celebrating his life and works as a playwright, poet, wordsmith and chronicler of history. And there is nowhere better than in the British Isles to remember and enjoy one man’s legacy to language and popular entertainment. So step out along the primrose path with us, or under the greenwood tree and discover links with the Bard on our UK Walks.

Yorkshire vs Lancashire

In Yorkshire, even today the symbol of the white rose is everywhere. On our Walk in the Yorkshire Dales we visit Middleham, where Richard III, the last Yorkist king lived in the landmark castle. Shakespeare’s history plays brought this turbulent era – the Wars of the Roses - to life for his audiences and 'a park near Middleham' is the setting for some of the action in Henry VI part 3.

Great oaks in Scotland

In the Scottish Highlands, our Walk takes us to an ancient forest where the Birnam Oak still stands. The mighty oak and its neighbour, the Birnam Sycamore, are thought to be the sole surviving trees of the great forest that once straddled the banks and hillsides of the River Tay. This forest is celebrated in Shakespeare's Macbeth as the famous Birnam Wood. The prophecy of Shakespeare's three witches did come true, with the branches of trees from great Birnam Wood, nearly 1,000 years ago, camouflaging the advancing army against Macbeth. It is believed that Shakespeare got inspiration for this section of `The Scottish Play` during a visit to Perth, Birnam and Aberdeen in 1599 as one of a troupe of comedians.

Megaliths in mellow England

The gentle, mellow stone and thatch in the Cotswolds gives way to mystery and supernatural legend when we come upon the Rollright Stones. The King’s Men are a man-sized ring of stones looking out over the Warwickshire countryside. Nearby are a group known as the Whispering Knights, huddled as if plotting against their masters. And across the road stands the solitary King’s Stone, frozen in time but twisted as he turned to flee. Shakespeare likely passed the stones on the route from Stratford to London (now the Shakespeare’s Way trail) and it is said they inspired him to create the three witches. Bamburgh Castle Macbeth with The Wayfarers Bamburgh Castle in a scene from the 2015 movie Macbeth

Castles of the north

Our Northumbria hike takes us to Alnwick Castle, whose most famous son, Harry Hotspur, lived a life fraught with battle and intrigue and was later immortalized by Shakespeare in Henry IV part 1 as a fearsome medieval warrior. And Bamburgh Castle, sitting proudly above the Northumberland coast, was picked as one of the main locations for the 2015 movie version of Macbeth, starring Michael Fassbender in the title role, featuring as the stronghold Dunsinane.

Over the sea to Skye

The location scouts for the movie couldn’t beat the Scottish island of Skye for drama and picked it as a backdrop for much of the filming. Skye is just one highlight of our Walk on the wild, untamed Outer Hebrides. See our website for details of these and all our Walks in the UK.

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