Embarking on an adventure through the Shire: hiking the Tolkien Trail in Lancashire

Ever thought about going on your own personal adventure to Mordor? And while the sweeping lakes and mountains of New Zealand might be a little too far away for some, you might not need to leave the UK to get that Middle Earth experience. That’s right, you can head on a walk in the very place that is said to have inspired Tolklien’s epic stories and here’s everything you need to know about it.

Lancashire Autumn scenery

- © Kevin Eaves / Shutterstock

Tucked away in Lancashire’s Ribble Valley is the village of Hurst Green, a beloved hub of peace. J.R.R. Tolkien and his family regularly stayed in a guest house on the grounds of Stonyhurst College, a prestigious school that was visited by many literary figures over the decades. This is where Tolkien spent the better part of 16 years composing his epic trilogy: “The Lord of The Rings”, which would finally be published in 1954. 

You can visit Stonyhurst in a limited capacity, as it is still a school today. The museum and historic buildings are open at specific dates, so be sure to check their website ahead of your visit to find out more information.

Stonyhurst College

- © John B Hewitt / Shutterstock

Stonyhurst alone is enough to transport you to a different time, but we suggest taking things a step further and embarking on the Tolkien Trail, the bestway to see the area’s incredible nature and get an understanding of what inspired the great author to create his most famous work. The 9km loop of the area also makes a perfect family friendly day out! 

Your adventure begins in the village of Hurst Green, where you’ll head along Warren Fold. You’ll keep walking and start to see the historic Stonyhurst, its impressive observatories, St Mary’s Hall and Hall Barn Farm.

Nature around Stonyhurst

- © David Mann Photography / Shutterstock

The path then takes you through Woodfields, where you’ll cross the street onto rougher terrain, and into Hacking Woods. Heading towards the River Hodder, the scenery begins to morph into something that can only be described as reminiscent of The Shire, take your time to notice all the small things that make this place so inspiring. Slowly follow the curve of the river and you’ll reach Cromwell’s Bridge. Also known as Devil’s Bridge, the bridge is rather obviously named after Oliver Cromwell, who, in 1648, is said to have led his army across it to the battle of Preston. Take a moment to admire the historic landmark before making your way to the footpath to the right up the hill. 

Cromwell’s Bridge

- © travellight / Shutterstock

As you make your way along the path, you’ll come across some more historic landmarks, such as Winckley Hall and Hacking Hall which date back to at least the 13th century. Along the River Ribble, you’ll see Jumbles Farm and further up, a stone cross which dates back to the early Christian period was moved on the hillside in 1833. The final major historical site on the path is a stone aqueduct built in the 1880s.

Whalley, Lancashire

- © Mark D Bailey / Shutterstock

Follow the path uphill which will bring you back to Hurst Green, our starting point.

Practical Information

You can find a detailed map of the Tolkien Trail and further information here. Visit Lancashire also has some more information about the general area. 

Please make sure you are equipped properly and that you apply safe hiking practices throughout your visit.

by Editorial Team
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