Explore the UK with Paddington
By Ellie Buchdahl, 13 November 2014
One of the world’s best-loved bears will be given the star treatment this year, when the new PADDINGTON movie is released.
If you’re new to the UK – or just want to get out and explore – then why not take inspiration by following in Paddington’s pawprints? After all, bears, toys and a rather famous train station can be a great springboard for discovering the UK.
Here are some ways to get started.
Scroll down to watch the trailer for the PADDINGTON film.
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Best for…real bears
A polar bear at Highland Wildlife Park (Picture: RZSS)
Scotland is home to Britain’s only polar bears.
Up in Cairngorms National Park at Highland Wildlife Park are two male polar bears, living in the largest polar bear enclosure in Europe. You can see them at play in their large natural pool, which is set in over four acres of land – typical of the polar bear's tundra environment.
The park is seven miles from Aviemore, a 2.5-hour drive from Edinburgh.
There are lots of other zoos and wildlife parks across the UK.
Best for…bear museums
Dorset Teddy Bear Museum
Dorchester, south-west England
Meet life-size toy bears at the Teddy Bear Museum (Picture © Teddy Bear Museum, Dorchester)
Bears of all shapes, sizes and ages greet visitors at this museum in the historic market town of Dorchester, less than three hours by train from London.
Meet antique bears, contemporary bears and the human-size teddy bears of Mr Edward Bear and his family in the Teddy Bear House.
Teddy Bear Museum, Polka Theatre
The Teddy Bear Museum at the Polka Theatre (Picture: Polka Theatre)
Meet Paddington Bear here, as well as Winnie the Pooh, the Muppets’ Fozzie Bear and hundreds of others.
Once housed in Stratford-upon-Avon, this museum has now moved to a children’s theatre in south-west London, the Polka Theatre, so once you’ve looked at bears to your heart’s content, you can round the trip off by taking in a play.
Best for…walking in Paddington’s ‘pawsteps’
The Paddington Trail
VisitLondon.com, The NSPCC and STUDIOCANAL have recently announced The Paddington Trail. Designed by a host of artists, designers and celebrities, 50 Paddington Bear statues will be placed across the capital, taking in museums, parks, shops and landmarks in an exciting and inspiring trail, with a colourful, Paddington inspired flavour.
The Paddington Trail will track the traveller's favourite places in London while celebrating the capital’s art, culture and innovation in advance of the film’s release in British cinemas on 28 November 2014.
Brit Movie Tours
Next year visitors to London can embark on an adventure around London as BritMovie Tours launches its three-hour Paddington tour dedicated to the Peruvian bear and the inspirations behind the film. Available to the public from Easter 2015.
Best for… Trips from Paddington train station
The young hero of the PADDINGTON film was named after the train station he arrived at – and anyone who visits London will soon discover that this Paddington is the ideal place to start your own great adventure and travel to all corners of the UK.
Train from Paddington: 30 minutes
The Long Walk leading to Windsor Castle ©VisitBritain / Pawel Libera
Welcome to the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world, and reportedly the Queen’s favourite. Here you can see the largest doll’s house in the world and explore the State Apartments.
One way to see it is with Mind The Gap Tours, which do day cycling trips starting from Paddington Station – the meeting point is the Paddington Bear statue of course! – and take you through the beautiful Thames Valley for a leisurely and relaxing ride towards the Castle.
Drop off the bikes and have a well-earned pub lunch before an afternoon at the castle and a train ride home (£69 per person. www.mindthegaptours.com/windsor/tour/index.php)
Train from Paddington: 1 hour
Ashmolean museum, Oxford ©VisitBritain / Britain on View
Did you know that the PADDINGTON movie was created by the same producers of the Harry Potter films? And while Harry Potter may have taken the Hogwarts Express from Platform nine and three quarters at Kings Cross Station, Potter fans should head out from Paddington to get to the historic city of Oxford, where many scenes from the films were shot.
The Great Hall, where Harry, Ron and Hermione dine and dance is really Christ Church College and the atmospheric cloisters of New College were also used in filming. Look out for students wearing gowns and a red carnation – that means they’re off to sit final exams.
Staircase in Christ Church College, Oxford ©VisitBritain/ Kiyoshi Sakasai
The Ashmolean Museum is a must for art and history lovers, and its rooftop café is a lesser-known pearl where you can see over the city’s dreaming spires and relax in a deck chair (www.ashmolean.org).
Check out more in our guide to 10 things to do in Oxford (that aren’t a university)!
Time from Paddington: 2 hours
Cardiff Castle ©VisitBritain/Ben Selway
Paddington is the gateway to another country – you can reach Wales in just 2 hours, and its capital Cardiff is great for visitors with interests as diverse as rugby, Doctor Who, tea and cake and history.
The Millennium Stadium is Wales’s national rugby stadium, a must for fans of the sport – you can take a backstage stadium tour too (www.millenniumstadium.com).
The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff ©VisitBritain / Britain on View
The city is also home to the fantastic Doctor Who Experience, which will thrill anyone who loves the TV series: follow the Doctor on an adventure and be confronted with Daleks and other monsters; when filming isn’t on you can even step into the Tardis actually used in the show (www.doctorwho.tv/events/doctor-who-experience).
And don’t miss Cardiff Castle before you leave – after all, Wales has 647 castles, so start ticking them off your list! www.cardiffcastle.com
Find out more tips from international students in our guide to Secret City: Cardiff.
Time from Paddington: 5 hours 30 minutes
St Michael's Mount, Penzance, Cornwall ©VisitBritain / Jason Hawkes
If you want to embark on a real adventure, head to Penzance in Cornwall, the region at the very tip of Britain’s ‘boot’, where you can explore some of the most beautiful coastline in the country.
See St Michael’s Mount, which you can visit on foot or by boat, and which is home to sub-tropical gardens and a medieval castle.
Penzance is also the gateway to the Scilly Isles, with Tresco Abbey and Gardens for wildly exotic plant life, horse-riding, watersports, beautiful beaches and five inhabited islands to explore (www.visitislesofscilly.com).
Find out more from international students in our guide: Secret UK: Cornwall.
Adventures in London…and Scotland!
Edinburgh ©VisitBritain / Britain on View
Of course Paddington is a station on the London Underground too, connected by the Bakerloo line, Central and District lines and Hammersmith and City line to the whole of London! Get a Visitor Oyster Card (you can order one before you get to the UK or in the UK) and start exploring the city by tube and bus straight away (www.visitbritainshop.com).
If the idea of exploring another country appeals, head five stops along from Paddington to Kings Cross station, and from there it’s just under four-and-a-half hours to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Arriving into the city you’re treated with the sight of its castle to welcome you, and as soon as you step out of the station you’ll see the grandeur and splendour of its architecture and be ready to get a taste of Scottish hospitality (www.visitscotland.com)!
Check out our Explore the UK guides for more student tips on trips around the UK.
Best for…bear buys
Portobello Market Paddington toys ©VisitBritain / Joanna Henderson
For all things Paddington – cute keyrings, comfortable sweatshirts, cuddly bear toys and more, head to www.visitbritainshop.com.
You’ll also find memorabilia of your favourite bear at markets such as London’s Portobello market, plus there are lots of fantastic toy shops all around the country where Paddington is sure to be found.
The station where our friend from Peru was first discovered – London’s Paddington station – is a natural spot to pick up a Paddington memento. As well as the station shop, you can have your photo taken with the Paddington statue that you’ll pass by on your way there.
PADDINGTON comes to cinemas worldwide from 28 November. Visit www.paddington.com for everything you could ever want to know about everyone's favourite bear from Peru or follow @paddingtonbear on Twitter.
© Paddington and Company Limited/STUDIOCANAL S.A. 2014 Paddington Bear™ and Paddington™ are trademarks of Paddington and Company Limited