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The Tolkien Trail – Exploring the Ribble Valley

30th April 2021

The Tolkien Trail - Exploring the Ribble Valley

After a year of restrictions, isolation and lockdowns it’s been wonderful to see so many people returning to the local area and experiencing the beauty of the countryside surrounding the Stonyhurst Estate.

The gorgeous landscapes of the Ribble Valley have inspired many visitors, including J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, some of the world’s most loved and bestselling books. Tolkien was a regular visitor to the area – while his son John trained for the priesthood during the Second World War, and later when his son Michael was teaching at Stonyhurst.

Tolkien’s books are known to have been heavily influenced by his own life and experiences, so his familiarity with the Stonyhurst Estate and its surroundings are likely to have inspired some of the landscapes in his stories. Tolkien was writing the second volume of The Lord of the Rings trilogy when he first spent time at Stonyhurst in the 1940s.

The Tolkien Trail is a walk which was prepared by the Christian Heritage Centre at Stonyhurst, in conjunction with Ribble Valley Borough Council. It’s a stunning way to explore the local area. The trail exposes walkers to some of the area which Tolkien would have been familiar with and may have used as inspiration in some of his stories. Some local places (such as Shire Lane in Hurst Green, and River Shirebourn) are even similar to the names of places in the books.

Cromwell Bridge - River Hodder
Cromwell's Bridge over the River Hodder
Walking route for the Tolkien Trail
After you have completed the five and a half mile walk, why not stay the night with us at Theodore House, a Grade II listed building previously known as the Old Mill dating to the 1840s?

The building was rebuilt and restored with funds raised from trusts and private donors by the Christian Heritage Centre. We offer B&B accommodation, with 25 single and twin rooms (all with ensuites) in a clean, comfortable and modern environment.

With plenty of excellent pubs nearby, Whalley Abbey and Clitheroe to explore, as well as Pendle Hill and other more challenging walks, the Ribble Valley is an excellent and beautiful spot for a few days’ break!

We are offering a 10% discount for all our visitors this June and July, so send us an email now at