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Come to Brum to follow your heroes' footsteps.

Byline: By Emily Beament

Young fans of The Lord of the Rings trilogy are being urged to forget New Zealand and head to Birmingham to follow in the footsteps of their fictional heroes.

Tourism agency VisitBrit-ain has launched a free Sto-ryBook England map of the country, which features the inspirational settings for classics including The Chronicles Of Narnia and the Harry Potter and Alex Rider books.

Using the map, families can explore the places Will and Lyra visit in the Oxford of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy or the Dorset coastline that features in the Famous Five books.

Harry Potter fans can follow the map to King's Cross Station's Platform 9 and 3/4 or head for Suffolk Owl Sanctuary to see birds resembling Harry's snowy owl companion Hedwig.

Books from best-selling authors such as Beatrix Potter, Michael Bond, Roald Dahl and Lewis Carroll are also included.

The map website's entry for JRR Tolkien reads: "New Zealand? Who needs it? Get yourself to Birmingham which is rich in places rooted in the Hobbit memory bank.

"First stop Sarehole Mill, an 18th century corn mill that was just opposite one of JRR Tolkien's boyhood homes. Today's mill is Ted Sandy-man's in The Lord of the Rings and is open to visiting Hobbits for free (Apr - Oct).

"Sarehole village (now swallowed up by Moseley) is probably the inspiration for The Shire although the golden Cotswolds are a strong contender. The author said that Hobbit habits are based on those of the villagers here.

"Ready for the Old Forest? Then make your way to Moseley Bog where local legend says that the trees really do 'watch you'. The dense, damp woodland, once a mill pond, is a nature reserve and inspired the last primeval wild woods where Tom Bombadil lived. If you make it through Moseley Bog then look for your next landmark: Edgbaston's two distinctive towers. 96ft Perrott's Folly and the adjacent Victorian waterworks tower are said to have suggested Minas Morgul (Tower of Sorcery) and Minas Tirith (Tower of Guard) to Tolkien.

"It doesn't take a Hobbit's imagination to see that they really are dead ringers for The Two Towers."

The map spearheads the Storybook England campaign, which VisitBritain's English division, Enjoy England, is hoping will capitalise on the 18 million trips already taken in the country each year by Britons with children aged 15 or under.

VisitBritain's England marketing director Mike Bed-ingfield said: "Families are incredibly important to England's pounds 57 billion tourism industry.

"Almost a third of households in the UK have children, while one in nine have children under five. Storybook England is an innovative way of marketing the destination.

He added: "England has been the inspiration for the greatest collection of children's literature in the world - everything from Beatrix Potter to Harry Potter.

"Storybook England makes it easier for children, their families and friends to find the magical places that have fired the imagination of the greatest authors of our time.

"It will further raise awareness of the great holiday experiences they can enjoy right here in England."

Enjoy England is printing 20,000 copies of the map, which are available by calling 0845 456 2332 or on www.enjoyengland.com/story-book

The campaign also features promotions in a range of shops and a teacher's pack, as well as a Pre-School Learning Alliance competition to win holiday vouchers.

CAPTION(S):

Picture, Cathal McNaughton/PA' Sarah Rew (centre) as Alice joins Mrs Tiggywinkle (left) and Peter Rabbit (right) on a roof garden overlooking St Paul's Cathedral' Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings film' Barad-dur which was inspired by Perrotts Folly' Perrotts Folly, Edgbaston
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 5, 2006
Words:610
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