Fact or Fiction?

Do you have trouble choosing your next book to read, deciding between something fact-based or a nice fictional novel? Well, you can have both with a bit of historical fiction!

Historical fiction is a genre that mixes fiction and non-fiction to create stories based on real-life historical details with added fictional characters, plot lines and events. We make good use of this in many of our Treasure Trail backstories! Whilst the treasure you seek, the crime you are solving, or the evil plot you are trying to thwart on your spy mission is very much fictional and just for fun, many of these stories are based on real local historical facts or legends.

To celebrate Local History Month, we've picked some of our favourite backstories based on real events, people or treasures from around the UK. It's up to YOU to decide what is fact and what is fiction...

Our Top 10 Fact or Fiction? Trails

Richmond Park Cycle Trail Treasure Hunt

The Richmond Park treasure hunt backstory

The Richmond Park Cycle Trail sends you on a quest around London's largest royal park, where you'll be doing a bit of deer spotting in between solving clues. Your quest notes task you with making a mountain out of a molehill, but did you know...?

Fact: In 1702, King William's horse really did stumble on a molehill, resulting in his death. This led to the employment of a mole catcher who lived in the small cottage, which grew into the stately 'Pembroke Lodge' (visited on the Trail). 

Fiction: Cullum N. Skinnum wasn't the mole catcher's real name, nor was the real mole catcher savaged by moles!

Fact or Fiction - you decide: Did the real mole catcher make his fortune from selling moleskins? 

Woodbridge Spy Mission

The Woodbridge spy mission backstory

You'll be sneaking around the historic riverside town of Woodbridge in Suffolk in order to complete this secret mission. Your top-secret spy information details your task; to crack the access code to a capsule from another world, but did you know...?

Fact: Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk was indeed the site of one of the most famous alleged UFO sightings in history. A series of lights in the forest in December 1980 is linked to sightings of a 'craft of unknown origin' and men in suits asking strange questions. The forest now has a life-size replica of a flying saucer for visitors to spot!

Fiction: There are no reports of a real locked capsule. We made that bit up!

Fact or Fiction - you decide: Evidence suggests that the sightings of lights and unexplained objects are real, but were they really from outer space?

Hastings Old Town Treasure Hunt

The Hastings treasure hunt backstory

A local fisherman's haul is the start of this treasure quest set in the seaside town of Hastings. This Trail has you exploring the picturesque streets and enjoying clifftop views. Your quest notes task you with solving the clues to discover if the legend of the golden chess set is really true, but did you know...?

Fact: The Hastings International Chess Congress is very real. 'Hastings 1895' is one of the most famous tournaments in chess history, as every top player from around the world competed. The Congress has been held every year since 1920. 

Fiction: There are no reports of local fishermen finding golden chess pieces caught up in their nets.

Fact or Fiction - you decide: The actual prizes awarded at the Hastings Chess Congress are cash prizes, but that doesn't mean that an elusive golden chess set hasn't been awarded in the past... 

Whitby Eastside and Abbey Detective Mystery

The Whitby detective mystery backstory

Another fishy mystery is the Whitby detective mystery, which has you investigating the old town of Whitby from the harbour up to the abbey. Your confidential case files detail the victim, Kip Kildare, and task you with searching this seaside town for evidence in order to solve this fishy crime, but did you know...?

Fact: Whitby is famous for its smoked kippers. Fortune's have been smoking kippers in the same smokehouse since 1872. You're likely to smell it before you see it as you search for a clue nearby. If you can't get to Whitby, The Whitby Catch do Kippers by Post!

Fiction: Kip Kildare is our poor fictional victim who met a fishy end. No local fishmongers were harmed in the creation of this story.

Fact or Fiction - you decide: There are several fishmongers in Whitby, so the competition is hot. This crime may be made up, but are there actual fishy goings-on in the town?

Stonehaven Heritage Trail Treasure Hunt

The Stonehaven treasure hunt backstory

The Stonehaven Heritage Trail leads you on a treasure hunt taking in the town's most historical sites as you boldly explore. Your quest notes task you with following in the footsteps of the famous Captain to solve the clues and locate his stash, but did you know...?

Fact: Captain Robery Barclay-Allardice was a real person. What's more, on 1st June 1809, he started his incredible feat of stamina, walking one mile every hour for 42 days with no sleep at all!

Fiction: There's no evidence that he fled with his winnings. 

Fact or Fiction - you decide: Rumour has it that, as well as the 1000 guineas he won in the original wager, hundreds of side bets netted him over £30,000. Worth £3million in today's money, perhaps he did have reason to bury some of his riches...

Hartlepool Historic Headland Spy Mission

The Hartlepool spy mission backstory

The Hartlepool spy mission will have you sneaking around the historic headland area of Hartlepool, learning about all sorts of past invaders, including Vikings, French spies, and German warships. Your top-secret documents outline your mission to discover the coordinates of a new observation post out at sea, but did you know...?

Fact: Elephant Rock was a real rocky outcrop just off the cliffs of Hartlepool! It was a major tourist attraction in the 1800s until it collapsed after a storm in 1891. Click here to see just how elephant-like it was!

Fiction: Hartlepool does not have a top team of code-breakers called HARTLEE, nor does REEL exist.

Fact or Fiction - you decide: There is no evidence that Elephant Rock was used by invaders as a lookout to spy on Hartlepool, but with Hartlepool under so many attacks, and by monkeys, who can say for sure...?

Much Wenlock Olympic Village Treasure Hunt

The Much Wenlock treasure hunt backstory

As you explore the medieval town of Much Wenlock and a bit of its surrounding countryside, you'll soon see how it feels more like a village than a town. Your quest notes put you in team Gladiators, tasked with beating team Hornets in this clue-solving quest for the gold medal, but did you know...?

Fact: The Wenlock Olympic Games, first held in 1850, really were the inspiration for the modern Olympic Games. You'll learn all sorts about the town's sporting history as you follow the Trail.

Fiction: There are no records of a treasure hunt being one of the events of the Wenlock Games, or any other Olympic Games for that matter. Maybe one day...

Fact or Fiction - you decide: There were some 'fun' events included each year in the Wenlock Olympics, but did they include a wheelbarrow race and an old woman's race...?

Liverpool - Home of the Beatles Detective Mystery

The Liverpool detective mystery backstory

This detective mystery takes you back a few decades as you explore the Liverpool that John, Paul, George and Ringo once new and see what mark they've made on the city. Your case files focus your investigation on the goings-on at a recording studio and task you with seeking out the evidence to crack the case, but did you know...?

Fact: The Beatles were, of course, a real band, and Liverpool was where it all started for them. 

Fiction: There is no record of a Chief Inspector Maxwell 'Silver' Hammer or a Sargeant Pepper within the Merseyside Police.

Fact or Fiction - you decide: There are lots of spots along the route with claimed Beatles links, such as cafes they may have drunk in, but are they all for real...?

Enjoy Truro Treasure Hunt

The Truro treasure hunt backstory

The Enjoy Truro Trail really will have you enjoying Truro with its atmospheric streets and eclectic mix of markets, galleries and restaurants. Your quest notes set the scene for your treasure hunt for the lost loot of explorer Richard Lander, but did you know...?

Fact: Richard Lemon Lander was a real explorer. Born in Truro, he and his brother were the first Europeans to follow the course of the River Niger all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. His monument stands on Lemon Street in Truro, which you'll be examining on the Trail.

Fiction: There are no records of any hoards of treasure being obtained on any of Lander's expeditions.

Fact or Fiction - you decide: We don't know whether he had any last words or not. If he did, perhaps they were linked to some kind of secret...

Wolverhampton - the Key to Success Spy Mission

The Wolverhampton spy mission backstory

Your Wolverhampton spy mission, should you choose to accept it, will have you sneaking around this city of Saxon origins. Your top-secret mission briefing sets the scene for a race to gain access to Queen Victoria's private diaries, but did you know...?

Fact: Queen Victoria really did attend the unveiling of Prince Albert's statue in Queen Square in 1866, having previously withdrawn from public engagements since his death.

Fiction: There is no mention of a padlock being made or presented at this time.

Fact or Fiction - you decide: Queen Victoria's Journals were actually published online in 2012. 141 volumes of diaries can now be accessed, but is that all of them...?

Ready for more awesome fun facts? 

Finding fun facts and clues on a treasure hunt Treasure Trail

Every single one of our 1,200+ Treasure Trails gives you a dose of both fact and fiction as you explore. The fiction is the quest, mission or investigation that you are led on as you follow the route and solve those sneaky clues. The facts are the little snippets of local information included in every Trail, alongside the real plaques, monuments, signs and sculptures you'll be examining to find the answers you seek. 

Click on the button to choose your next Trail adventure...