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22 Jan 2013

Top Ten Settings

In this week's Top Ten Tuesday we've been asked to list ten settings that we'd love to see more of in books.  As a British girl, I don't usually see a lot of the UK in my reading.  A lot of people tend to stick to London and there's so much more to England and the rest of the UK than London.

So I'm sticking to Britain for TTT and these are my top ten settings that I would love to see used in a novel:
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1) St Andrews, Scotland

St Andrews is a former royal burgh on the East Coast of Fife with historic buildings all around.  Home to St Andrews University and the ruins of what used to be St Andrews Cathedral, built around 1158.  The seaside town is still full of history and also golf.  Lots of it.  It's home to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and the most frequent venue for The Open Championships.

2) York, England

This one is going to be the setting for a future project but I'd love to see more York in British books.  York is a walled city with a strong heritage that is celebrated annually with festivals like the Jorvik Viking Festival.  Each annual the Jorvik Viking Centre (one of York's museums) where different events ranging from re-enactments, academic, archaeological and markets celebrate the city's history with Vikings.  York is also the most haunted city in England.  Click here for my post on York as an inspirational setting.

3) Whitby, England

Another slightly ghoulish Yorkshire location.  This seaside town is split into two with the harbour and Whitby Abbey towers over the whole town, high up on a cliff (known for it's 199 steps that lead from the town to the Abbey).  Whitby is mostly known for it's literary history, especially famous for Dracula and in every shop you go in there will be merchandise celebrating that connection.  If you ever fancy reading Dracula you definitely wouldn't have to search high and low for a copy.  And like a typical seaside town all you can smell is fish and chips.  Here's a full post I wrote on Whitby.
4) The Lake District, England

The Lake District is a mountainous region surrounded by lakes, mountains and forests as well as picturesque towns and villages.  These large lakes almost take up the whole Cumbria.  It's a real family spot where parents and their children come down to kayak, canoe, and sail.  If you have characters who love water spots or fancy making England a bit fantastical, The Lake District is perfect.  The town of Keswick has a gorgeous lakeside theatre that overlooks Derwentwater and people of all ages come there to swim as well and lounge around.

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5) Camden Town, London

Okay, London had to worm its way on the list somehow.  But nobody ever mentions Camden Town.  The crazy, alternative shopping area where you could walk around with a tutu and Prince of Wales mask on and nobody would bat an eyelid.  Camden was home for the goths, grungers, and punks living in London where you could roam the markets and find band clothes, corsets, and large, platform boots. 
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6) Windsor, England
Famous for being one of the royal family's residencies, Windsor Castle is practically in the centre of this town with shops and restaurants circling it.  Twice a day you can catch the changing of the guard.  Windsor also connects to Eton, famous for the prestigious Eton college by Windsor Bridge.  I was there in August 2012 where Eton still had bunting hanging from the streets so it looked incredibly British and proud.

7) Leeds, England
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Even though I live here I'll admit Leeds isn't the most beautiful of places.  It's a medium sized city but it's huge with all the suburbs around it.  And it is a mix of nice, family friendly areas and chavvy, rough areas that are high in crime.  But we have our fair share of museums with the Royal Armouries over-looking Clarence Dock to the magnificent Temple Newsam estate house with large grounds.  And people do have good manners here.  I always found Leeds friendlier and more polite than London.  There are also some areas that are becoming very multi-cultural and Leeds is known for having the third largest Jewish community in the UK.
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8) Cotswolds, England
A range of hills throughout the counties of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire as well as extending into Somerset, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, and Warwickshire.  Classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty the area is full of little towns and villages like Bourton-on-the-Water and Chipping Norton.

9) Richmond, N.Yorkshire, England

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Richmond is a hilly, cobbled Georgian Market Town with independent and local shops surrounding the town centre. High above the shops the ruins of Richmond Castle stand, peeking out from behind the houses and shops around the town centre. The local source of entertainment can be found at the old Station railway that has now been converted into a small cinema, a number of cafes and an art gallery. 

10) Wetherby, England
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Wetherby is another market town, part of the City of Leeds metropolitan borough and stands on the River Wharfe where small cafes overlook the flowery river.  It's a quaint little town, home to Wetherby racecourse, perfect for fans of horses and horse racing. It's also home to a well-know fish and chip restaurant and take-away market, The Wetherby Whaler which has other restaurants located around Yorkshire, like Pudsey, York, Wakefield, and Guiseley.  It could maybe be an inspiration for sci-fi seeing as Wetherby also has it's own TARDIS.

And there are ten lovely settings that I'd love to see get noticed and used for British fiction.  The UK has it's share of rough areas but there are some truly stunning locations here that would be great to use in WiPs.
Check out The Broke and The Bookish for more settings!


  1. I could suggest my home town of Hereford, and the surrounding area (the Malvern hills, etc.), but, so I gather, Tolkien already used it. Apparently, "the Shire" in LotR was based on this part of the country.

    Hereford has its share of ghost stories too. I remember my grandmother telling me some of them when I was young. Mind you, cities that old are bound to have their share of spooky tales. :)

    A great list, Robin. I hope the UK Tourist Board pays you a commission. ;)

  2. Isn't England perfect for ghost stories? =D So full of historical towns.

    Haha, I'm starting to wonder if I should get into travel writing. ^^

  3. *cough*youforgotBrighton*cough*


    I loooooove Windsor. So pretty. The Lake District is stunning and the Cotswolds is so quaint it doesn't feel entirely real.

  4. Haha, sorry! Brighton will make it on here one day. I love seeing new places in England and the more the merrier for my British inspirational settings! =D Got to spread the English awesomeness!

    The Cotswolds seem so perfect. Like perfect, ideal cottages, small cafes, quiet and green. It's like a different world there.

  5. Awwwh now I want to visit England again...

  6. Oh, so many great choices :) My riding instructor studied in England for five years. She's got great stories about some of the towns you've listed