Today sees another instalment of our Walk of the Month series, and for December we’re going to head to the Ribble Valley in Lancashire and follow in the footsteps of one of the country’s literary greats, J.R.R. Tolkien. His son attended Stonyhurst College, one of the main sights to see on the walk, and Tolkien used to visit him often. In fact he wrote sections of the Lord of the Rings whilst staying at the school and drew plenty inspiration for Middle Earth from the surrounding countryside, with places like Hurst Green, Jumbles Farm and Cromwell’s Bridge all coming together in his head to form parts of the Shire.
You can expect to see plenty of stunning scenery whilst making your way around the Tolkien Trail, from the lush woodlands to the commanding presence of Pendle Hill in the distance and of course the lazy meanderings of the Rivers Hodder and Ribble that frame the route.
The Tolkien Trail follows a circular route with plenty of flat terrain and easy pathways so that it should be easy enough for all, although at just under six miles long it will take around 3 hours to complete.
Starting off in the village of Hurst Green, head over towards Stonyhurst College, the domed turrets on the roof of the school will guide you along.
Once you pass the College Observatory you’ll want to head right down the path towards Hall Barn Farm. Then take a left just before the gate of the farm and follow the line of the buildings. Here you’ll find a couple of outstanding views, to the left you’ll be able to see the College in all it’s glory and in the opposite direction there’s the profile of Pendle Hill and also Clitheroe Castle.
Now follow the path all the way until you reach Woodfields, once you’re there cross the road and head down the lane between the rows of houses. Soon after this lane veers to the left you’ll want to take the right hand turning and follow the edge of the field alongside Over Hacking Wood.
Then head down to the River Hodder and follow the pathway all the way along to Cromwell’s Bridge. From here take a right and follow the road for a short while. Once you reach the first junction head over the stile to the left and cross the field.
From here you’ll want to head on to Winckley Hall Farm where you’ll rejoin the Hodder as it converges with the River Ribble. Then continue following the river for quite a distance passing Hacking Hall, Jumbles Farm and the aqueduct.
Not long after the aqueduct youll come to a small wood and at this point you should leave the riverside path. Cross the small wooden bridge and head up the stepped pathway, climb the stile and keep walking with the fence on your left.
When this fence takes a sharp left keep walking straight on, after crossing a couple of bridges and another stile cross the stream on your right. Now all you need to do is follow the field boundary and you’ll find yourself back in the village of Hurst Green.
Download the comprehensive route and map for this walk here.
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