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Small private tour for up to 3 people. Please ask for prices for larger groups.
The tour focuses on the landscape that inspired The French Lieutenant's Woman's creator. Take a walk to Fowles's recent home Belmont and then follow the sunlit clifftops to the Undercliff nature reserve which forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
John Fowles is recognised in literary circles as one of the Twentieth Century's greatest writers. The effect of his novel, The French Lieutenant's Woman is testament to this. The opening sequence of the film with Meryl Streep walking along the Cobb at Lyme Regis, which he describes as “quite simply the most beautiful sea rampart on the south coast of England” will be forever imprinted on our minds.
John and his wife Elizabeth moved to Lyme in 1965; they had bought the secluded Underhill Farm.We know from his diaries that he rapidly became enthralled by life on the Undercliff.
'These walks, on which I see nothing unusual, confirm my love of this countryside very strongly. I do not want to live anywhere else.' Journals, Vol 2
Surrounded by the wildlife of what is now the UK's largest nature reserve, he became entranced by the image of a woman standing on the end of the Cobb and fell in love. From this emerged The French Lieutenant's Woman.
'Its clothes were black...the figure stood motionless, staring, staring out to sea.' (The French Lieutenant's Woman)
The result? An image of a woman standing on the Cobb immortalised in fiction and film, the latter boasting Meryl Streep as its leading lady. She was The French Lieutenant’s Woman. The book has been hailed a masterpiece of modern fiction. The story of lovers, Sarah and Charles, separated by the morals of Victorian society. Sarah, the heroine of the title, flouts all convention and embodies Pre-Raphaelite style and thought. She leads Charles out of Victorian stricture, where he was engaged, and into the delights of a new era.
Over the years this has drawn much attraction to the small coastal town of Lyme Regis and there is much for the visitor to explore. A walk along the famous Undercliff nature reserve is nothing short of breath-taking.
The tour focusses on the landscape that inspired The French Lieutenant's Woman's creator.
Fowles describes Underhill as a 'great complex poem.' In his journals he writes:
'the purity of the sun here: white, silver, gold. I have never been more conscious of it...how the sea changes in texture, colour, transparency.'
Take a walk to Fowles's recent home Belmont and then follow the sunlit clifftops to the Undercliff nature reserve which forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tour includes sites featured in the novel and film, but the best is left till last. We visit the secluded farmhouse that Fowles adored and in which he wrote The French Lieutenant's Woman. We explore the grounds as Fowles would have done, reading and discussing excerpts from his novel and diaries.
We conclude with a visit to John Fowles's quirky work room at Underhill (in the midst of the Undercliff nature reserve), where you can see the views of the sea and Undercliff exactly as Fowles would have enjoyed.
The French Lieutenant's Woman tours run all year round. For scheduled French Lieutenant's Woman tour times see calendar. For non-scheduled walks, please email to book your tour.
Please be aware that a guide will only be sent to meet this tour if bookings are received. Booking recommended.
The Undercliff Nature Reserve contains cravasses, sometimes hidden, landslips, mud, fallen trees, streams, steep hills and can be difficult underfoot. There is almost no mobile/cell phone reception in the Undercliff Nature Reserve. Do not rely on mobile phones if you are planning to go into the reserve.
The undercliff is home to ticks. Ticks can carry Lymes Disease and so it is important to keep yourself covered. Ticks can be found anywhere (even in your garden at home) but it is important to protect yourself against ticks when in environments such as nature reserves.