Withnail and I is probably the nerd’s most quotable film ever. Some great, comedy scriptwriting has ensured that the movie still remains fresh more than 30 years after it was released. This bittersweet tale follows two unemployed actors as they “go on holiday by mistake” to a little rundown cottage in The Lake District. For the ultimate road trip, try following in their footsteps for the ultimate Withnail adventure. Just make sure that you don’t drink and drive – you might spill your drink.
The first thing you’re going to need for your road trip is, of course, a car. Many luxury car rental companies will let you hire a Jaguar MKII; just don’t go breaking one of the headlights though. The shape of the car is iconic – it is a classic. Failing this, make sure that you choose a vehicle that is reliable, as the journey from London to Crow Crag will take around five hours. Start your trip from 35 Glebe Place in Chelsea – this is the home of the formidable Uncle Monty and his rugby-ball cat. The house was bought in 2011 by a French businessman for £20 million.
Head to Crow Crag
In the Wet Sleddale Valley, not far from the little village of Shap, is Sleddale Hall, a.k.a. Crow Crag. This secluded farmhouse was once dilapidated, but it is now privately owned and has been renovated considerably since the days when Withnail was filmed. The house is clearly shown on Google Maps – there is a well-marked route for ramblers nearby. You can park at the nearby reservoir and take a five-minute walk from here. Just make sure that you take some good quality rubber boots.
Visit a tea room
One of the most famous scenes in the film is where Withnail and Marwood head into Penrith to visit a tea room. They cause a certain amount of disruption, demanding the finest wines available to humanity (“We want them here and we want them now”). This scene was actually filmed in Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes – the building is now the Cox & Robinson Pharmacy. However, there is no shortage of authentic tea rooms in Cumbria where you can demand to have some booze. Try the Melmerby Stores and Tearooms in Penrith. They do some very good cake that will do an adequate job of soaking up the two large gins and two pints of cider (ice in the cider).
A Withnail and I road trip is a great idea for a long weekend away. Just don’t forget to stop at the phone box in Bampton, Cumbria on the way back so you can phone your agent.