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An Insider’s Guide to The Tolkien Trail

People come from all over the world to walk the famous Tolkien Trail. For fantasy fans, it’s fantastic; you can follow in the footsteps of J.R.R. Tolkien himself and see how he was inspired by the beautiful landscape of Lancashire.

Get the full experience with our insider’s guide to the trail including its history, points of interest and some hidden gems that only us locals know about.

The Tolkien Trail


Who was J.R.R. Tolkien?

J.R.R. Tolkien was a beloved English writer during the 20th century, most famous for his classic fantasy fiction works, The Lord of the Rings
and The Hobbit. To this day, his works are enjoyed by people all over the globe and have also been brought to life in hugely successful film adaptations.

Tolkien was renowned for his love of nature and it is thought that it was this particular area of the Lancashire countryside that inspired his writing.


Exploring the route

The Shireburn Arms stands in the beautiful Ribble Valley village of Hurst Green – the very place where J.R.R. Tolkien is thought to have discovered his inspiration for Hobbiton. This spot marks the starting point for the famous Tolkien Trail.

It is a circular 9km walking route along the mostly flat terrain, so it’s great for walkers of all abilities and all ages.

On the trail, you will enter into a world of pastoral scenery and scattered woodlands; a truly glorious part of the English countryside.

You will pass Stonyhurst College, the esteemed boarding school and the place where Tolkien himself stayed regularly. He spent much of his time here working on The Lord of the Rings, as well as even teaching a few lessons at the college.

Did you know? Fellow English writer, Sir Author Conan Doyle, author of The Sherlock Holmes novels, also spent a lot of time at this college.


Riverside views

After passing the college, the walking route then circles back along the riverside. You will see the River Hodder and River Ribble merge together and follow them as you meander along the grassy riverside paths.

Approximately halfway round the trail, you will cross Cromwell’s Bridge. This was built by Sir Richard Shireburn in 1562 and legend has it that Oliver Cromwell used it during his march from Skipton to intercept the Royalists at the Battle of Preston back in 1648.

Then look out for the magnificent aqueduct near the end of the trail. It dates back to the 1880s and was initially used for carrying water. It remains an impressive piece of engineering to this day.


The fun goes full circle

The path will eventually bring you back to where you started, at the heart of the village of Hurst Green and right outside the Shireburn Arms. If you are near the area, then make sure to have a wander around and allow yourself to be immersed in this wonderful part of the countryside. After all, as Tolkien himself once said, “Not all those who wander are lost”. Please visit the Forest of Bowland website to view the Tolkien Trail map and to read more about the various points of interest along the walk.


But, our best tip?

Pop into the Shireburn Arms for some hearty Lancashire pub food after a long days walk. Pick up a copy of the walking route and book a table for a well-deserved lunch or dinner after your walk.

Enjoy fabulous fresh food including sandwiches, country pub classics and traditional dishes revived with a modern twist. The fires are always lit and you are guaranteed a warm welcome.

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