2016 marks 100 years since the birth of one of Britain’s most beloved and eccentric authors. His dark humour, disgusting characters, made up words and heart-warming heroes have made Roald Dahl’s books a hit with kiddles the world over.
But it was Dahl’s home country that inspired stories such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG, so get your gogglers around these gloriumptious places to visit…
Roald Dahl was born in September 1916 in Llandaff, Cardiff to Norwegian parents. He spent his boyhood in the city and displayed a penchant for macabre humour early on. He famously tricked miserable sweet shop owner, Mrs Pratchett, by placing a mouse in her jar of gobstoppers! Today the Llandaff shop is commemorated with a blue plaque. Dahl is also remembered in Cardiff Bay’s modern plaza which has been renamed Roald Dahl Plass (place or square in Norwegian.) The nearby pretty clapboard church where the Dahl family worshipped is now an arts centre and cafe. If you’re feeling fit, cycle or walk The Cardiff Bay 10k Trail over the barrage and past the peaceful wetlands. Alternatively, browse independent boutiques in the Victorian arcades or visit the National Museum and Art Gallery.
Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire
Gypsy House in the village of Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire was Roald Dahl’s home for 36 years until his death in 1990. The writing hut at the bottom of his garden, where all his famous children’s stories were imagined, was created by builder Wally Saunders, Dahl’s large-eared model for his Big Friendly Giant. The Great Missenden Trail leads you past petrol pumps from Danny, the Champion of the World, the house that inspired Sophie’s orphanage in The BFG and Dahl’s grave. Explore further into his cherished Chiltern countryside to Angling Spring Wood, keeping your gogglers peeled for Fantastic Mr Fox! The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre has an impressive collection of memorabilia and photos. Dine on delumptious Bogtrotter chocolate cake at Cafe Twit, but steer clear of the Twits’ Wormy Spaghetti!
Cadbury World, Bourneville, Birmingham
Imagine the thrill of finding a shiny gold ticket like Charlie did in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The 1964 rags-to-riches classic was inspired by Roald’s own experience at Repton School in Derbyshire, where Cadbury would send new types of chocolates to be tested. The young Roald dreamt of inventing a chocolate bar for Mr Cadbury himself! For kids today Cadbury World must feel akin to visiting Willy Wonka’s fantastical factory. Embark on a 4D chocolate adventure or dip your choice of sweet treat into a pot of warm, gooey chocolate in the chocolate making area. Not to mention losing yourself in the world’s largest Cadbury’s shop…just remember the fate of poor, gluttonous Augustus Gloop.
Isle of Skye, Scotland
The Isle of Skye, the largest island in the Inner Hebrides abounds with the loveliest and most unusual landscapes. It’s no wonder that legendary film director Steven Spielberg chose this location to film scenes for his new movie of The BFG. Look out for the cone-shaped, undulating magic of the Fairy Glen, the other-worldly landslip landscape of The Quiraing and the incredible, toothy drama of The Storr rocky ridge. There’s a relatively short but exceptionally striking walk up to the Old Man of Storr through one of the world’s most photographed landscapes. After all that exercise, find peace on an isolated beach or sample a golden drop at the Talisker whisky distillery with dramatic views of the Cuillins.
Stonor Park, Oxfordshire
The red brick splendour of the house at Stoner Park in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire will be recognisable to film fans as the home of wealthy snob Victor Hazell (played by Robbie Coltrane) in the 1989 film version of Danny, the Champion of the World. Set in 1950s England, the young Danny and his dad (Jeremy Irons) plan a deliciously wicked revenge on Victor which involves a wood full of sleepy pheasants. There are a plethora of walking and cycle routes in the stunning Stoner Valley to explore, or simply stroll through the arboretum and Italianate gardens of the house. Summertime sees outdoor cinema and in autumn, there’s mushroom foraging.
Those wicked witches! The sight of the grand old hotel perched above Newquay’s surfing paradise still gives kids the shivers after its famous incantation in the darkly comic, 1990 film The Witches, starring Angelica Huston. The action centred around the Headland Hotel; a Grade II listed Victorian building dominating the cliff above golden sands. It feels incongruous with the laid-back surf groove here on Cornwall’s blustery North coast. Only five minutes from the centre of the resort, Fistral is regarded as one of the best surfing beaches in Europe. If surfing’s not your thing, take a coastal horse ride from nearby Trenance, feast on Rick Stein’s celebrity fish and chips or sip a Cornish cider surveying the North Atlantic swell.
In a sunny south east corner of Pembrokeshire sits the pastel-pretty harbour of Tenby. The ancient walled town has been a popular seaside resort for generations. Roald Dahl stayed here at a place called The Cabin, overlooking the harbour every Easter holiday between 1920 and 1936 and later took his own family there. “We had donkey rides on the beach and long walks with the dogs along the top of the cliffs opposite Caldy Island, and there were primroses everywhere,” he reminisced. Tenby continues to delight visitors with sailing, a fort, fishing trips, award-winning beaches and super-fresh mackerel.
Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
A trip to the Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery is sure to receive a whoopsey-splunkers reaction from any child with the slightest interest in his books! The interactive museum space inside Bucks County museum has won two major awards for education and kids can immerse themselves in the weird and wonderful worlds of Dahl’s words and Quentin Blake’s illustrations. They can magnify mini-beasts in James’ Giant Peach, crawl along Fantastic Mr Fox’s tunnel and feel around for disgusting things in the Twits’ feely holes. Nearby, less eccentric enjoyment can be found in beautiful Wendover Woods and the working steam museum of Buckinghamshire Railway Centre.