landscape with a barn

Walking in Tolkien’s Footsteps

The Tolkien Trail is in an incredibly beautiful region of England. We spent 2 nights of our trip in the village of Hurst Green for a wedding. It turns out, this region of the country was likely Tolkien’s inspiration for the Shire. A stroll on the Tolkien Trail is totally worth your visit!

This post is the third in a series about our England adventure:

J. R. R. Tolkien spent time at Stonyhurst College in Hurst Green during World War II and was fond of walking through the woods and fields in the area. Situated in the Ribble Valley along the Forest of Bowland, the terrain of the area is incredibly picturesque and pastoral.

After a week exploring the hustle and bustle of London, 2 nights in the country were a complete change of pace and scenery. Having the serenity of Hurst Green so immediately juxtaposed to the excitement of London made me appreciate both atmospheres even more.

The Tolkien Trail

The Tolkien Trail is a 5.5 mi circular excursion starting and ending at the Shireburn Arms. Along the trail are a few points of interest involving Tolkien or local history. There is a map online, but the lovely folks at the Shireburn Arms printed us one to use. As with everywhere else in England, its completely normal to run across a building from the 1200s.

The entrance to the trail seemed like we were trespassing on someone’s land as you walk through a field. In the US, you could be arrested for this, but in England it was completely normal. I was assured by the gentleman who printed my map. He insisted that no one would chase us off with a shot gun. The beginning of the trail isn’t marked well, but after a few sheep pastures (bring appropriate shoes!) there is a more defined trail. Much of it is paved. Following the map was a treasure hunt for landmarks.

We walked the trail the morning of the wedding we attended. The scenery is diverse. We saw the lush greens that inspired the tranquil oasis that is the Shire. Brooks and streams babbled along as we walked. We saw what I’m assuming has to be Farmer Maggot’s crops.

Part of the trail runs through a forest along a stream, which was delightfully cool after a stroll through a pasture in the sun. Mr. PC informed me that there was a troll living under the bridge over the stream.

The atmosphere here provides an additional understanding of Tolkien’s depiction of the Shire. It felt so foreign, yet somehow so familiar. This is exactly what I always imaged the Shire to be. Because we had to get ready for the wedding, we only did half of the trail and took Whalley Road at Cromwell’s Bridge back to Bayley Arms. I would love to go back and do the entire thing!

Local Accommodations

We stayed at The Bayley Arms for our 2 nights, as it was down the street from Shireburn Arms where the wedding we attended was held. This room had the biggest bathroom of any on our trip! Breakfast was tasty, as were the drinks (a Pimm’s cup pitcher!) from the pub in the evening. The Shireburn Arms had an awesome meat pie for the rehearsal dinner, and the view from the back terrace was so incredible I didn’t want to go inside. Our time here was some of the most memorable of our trip!

What are some of your favorite rural views from your travels?

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