What do you do when the temperature drops, the wind howls and the rain pours?
I often escape in a book. And this book took me on a walking tour with Jane Austen.
First we walked near Jane’s childhood home in Steventon. The church walk and the woodland walk were both lovely. We saw the homes of many of Jane’s friends, and visited one or two. And along the way we spoke of our families and we agreed that we had both been blessed.
Then we were off to Ibthorpe – such a pretty little hamlet – to visit Jane’s good friends Martha and Mary Lloyd. And do you know, while we were walking we bumped into two ladies upon whom Jane based characters. Mrs Stent became Miss Bates and Mrs Craven became Lady Susan. I wonder if they recognised themselves in print.
We had a lovely long weekend in Kent, with Jane’s brother Edward. It was good that we were able to spend a little more time here, because there really was so much lovely countryside, so many wonderful houses, and, of course, calls to pay. I’m sure that Jane’s many visits here over the years provided her with so much inspiration for her writing. And I’m quite certain that Pemberley was based on one of the big houses we visited.
Now where did we go next? Of course, it was Bath – wonderful city. Jane has visited Bath many times and I have been there before too, but it is a marvellous place and I was delighted to see it all again, and with such wonderful company. And, just for fun, Jane pointed out the places where she had imagined Catherine Moreland and Anne Elliott walking and spending time.
And then we went down to the coast, to Lyme Regis. Yes, we were still following in the footsteps of Anne Elliott! It’s such a pretty town and a lovely stretch of coast. I’d been missing the sea. We had a lovely walk on the Cobb and we went up and down the very steps where the fictional Caroline Hargreaves fell. I’m pleased to say that Jane and I both remained firmly on our feet.
We went a little way up the coast to Southampton as well. Not such a pretty town, but it is, of course, a navy town and Jane and I both have navy connections.
After all of that activity a few quiet days in at Jane’s home in Chawton were just what we both needed. We called on a number of Jane’s friends and we had some gentle walks. And when we went further afield Jane pointed out some of Emma’s favourite places.
After that it was time for me to go home. Jane came up to London with me: she saw me off on the train from Paddington and then she went to call on her brother Henry in Kensington.
A quite wonderful holiday!
In The Steps of Jane Austen is a very well written book of walks through towns and countryside that Jane Austen knew well.
And it weaves in a wealth of details about her books and her own life so cleverly.
You could happilywalk with it in Jane’s footsteps – or you could do what I did, and just escape in a book.