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10 February 2023

Ruth Adams reveals UK's top pop culture tourist spots

From the Beatles' famous Abbey Road zebra crossing to graffiti artist Banksy's murals, discover Britain’s most culturally iconic locations.

angel of the north

Dr Ruth Adams, Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Creative Industries, has worked with Premier Inn to put together a map of Britain’s top ten cultural tourism hotspots.

Visits to TV, film and musically significant locations are modern pilgrimages. For a small country, the UK punches well above its weight as both a tourist destination and a cultural powerhouse.

Dr Ruth Adams, Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Creative Industries, told The Scotsman

'We create world leading art and popular culture – from literature to film, television and music, and many people like to plan their holidays around pilgrimages to sites of cultural significance to get closer to their idols and fantasies.

Going to locations that the Beatles or David Bowie not only visited but made iconic on album covers can bring fans closer to the ‘aura’ of these stars.' Dr Ruth Adam told The Scotsman

Dr Adams found, on arrival, visitors sometimes find places are not always as they seem.

One contributor was baffled when travelling to Brentwood in Essex (the home of reality show The Only Way Is Essex) – 'because it was nothing like TOWIE had made it out to be.'

Dr Adam's map is the focus of articles in the The Scotsman, Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Daily Mirror and The Sun.

Top 10 hotspots

  • Abbey Road - the site of the most famous pedestrian crossing in the world, this is located next to the The Beatle's recording studio..

  • Giant’s Causeway - located on the coast of County Antrim in Northern Ireland. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 but is probably best known to rock music aficionados for appearing on the cover of Led Zepplin’s 1973 album ‘Houses of the Holy’.

  • Portobello Road - on this road in West London you can find the real-life sites of Gruber’s Antique Shop featured in Paddington and Paddington 2 and Will’s bookshop from Notting Hill.

  • Princes Street - Edinburgh was the site of the opening scenes of Danny Boyle’s 1996 film adaptation of Trainspotting, and a location used in numerous other films, including Cloud Atlas and The Illusionist.

  • The Angel of the North - Anthony Gormley’s massive steel statue – 20 metres high and with a wingspan of 54 metres – dominates the skyline of Gateshead, Tyne & Wear. Its status as a local icon was assured in May 1998, when it was draped in a giant football shirt bearing the name and number of another local legend, Alan Shearer.

  • Fern Cottage, Port Isaac - Fern Cottage is famous as the home of Doc Martin, protagonist of the hugely popular ITV drama series starring Martin Clunes.  It is located in the picturesque fishing village of Port Isaac on the north coast of Cornwall, which doubles for the fictional location of Portwenn.

  • Portmeirion  - North Wales for cult 1960s show The Prisoner.

  • Narnia Door, St Mary’s Passage, Oxford - This is a decorative wooden door that is widely believed to be the inspiration for The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, who studied at Oxford and was elected a Fellow of Magdalene College in 1925, teaching there for three decades.  The door is embellished with carvings that look just like Narnia characters Mr Tumnus and Aslan the Lion, and there is even an old-fashioned lamp post nearby.

  • The World of Beatrix Potter - The World of Beatrix Potter is an attraction in the Lake District that allows visitors to feel as if they have stepped into her books, to be fully immersed in the world of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck.  The site also features a real ‘Peter Rabbit Garden’, designed by a Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winner.

  • Banksy Street Art in Bristol - The identity of the UK’s most famous street artist remains a closely guarded secret, but it is known that he is a proud Bristolian. His work can be seen for free on the city’s walls.


This article was originally compiled by The Scotsman

In this story

Ruth Adams

Reader in Cultural and Creative Industries