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Wandering along the Tolkien Trail

Becca Nelson
By Becca Nelson

Did you know that J. R. R. Tolkien spent a great time in the beautiful countryside of the Ribble Valley when he was writing The Lord of the Rings? Tolkien’s connection with Stonyhurst College and the surrounding area is celebrated in the Tolkien Trail, a 5 1/2 mile walk from Hurst Green.

We assembled at the Shireburn Arms for lunch before setting out from Hurst Green Village.

Walkers assemble | Graham McConnell

The early stages of the walk explore fields populated at this time by sheep and lambs, walking alongside Fox Hall Wood and towards Stonyhurst College, through a number of kissing gates.

Kissing Gates | Becca Nelson

Stonyhurst College was established in 1794, when the house (the construction of which was started by Richard Shireburn in 1590, and which took 250 years to complete) was gifted to the Jesuit English College at Liege, after they fled the French Revolutionary Army.

Playing fields, with views toward Clitheroe Castle | Becca Nelson

Walking along quiet lanes for some time, we enjoyed views of Pendle Hill, part of the Forest of Bowland AONB.

Views of Pendle Hill | Becca Nelson

The hedgerows and margins were at their best, showing off many shades of green and bedecked with cow parsley blossom.

Tolkien Trail | Becca Nelson

Continuing on to Over Hacking Wood, replete with the appetising aroma of wild garlic, we descended many steps into the valley to cross a small stream before climbing the hill again as we walked toward the River Hodder.

Steps in Over Hacking Woods | Becca Nelson

Following the path of the river through rolling farmland, we saw herons fishing from the rocks…

River Hodder | Becca Nelson

… before proceeding on to Cromwell’s Bridge – a packhorse bridge dating back to 1562.

Cromwell’s Bridge | Becca Nelson

The bridge is reputed to have been used by Oliver Cromwell when he was marching his army from Skipton to the Battle of Preston in 1648.

Cromwell’s Bridge | Becca Nelson

As time was pressing, we abbreviated the normal walk route by continuing along Whalley Road toward Hurst Green and taking the public footpath towards Hall Barn Farm.

Footpath towards Hall Barn Farm | Becca Nelson

We spent some time admiring the many cows who were returning to the field following milking before continuing back towards Stonyhurst College and from there through the village of Hurst Green and back to our cars.

Cows returning to their field after milking | Becca Nelson

If you would like to try the Tolkien Trail, download the route leaflet via the link below.

Download Tolkien Trail leaflet


Tolkien Trail Becca Nelson