Tolkien Trail

The Tolkien Trail is one of the most popular walks in Lancashire. The circular route is 6 miles long. It starts in Hurst Green, a small village in the Ribble Valley.

The walk takes its name from JRR Tolkien. The author stayed in the area while writing The Lord of the Rings.

The walk is fairly flat and not difficult. It can be muddy in places after rain. There are many stiles on the route so its certainly not suitable for those with prams.

The route is fairly straightforward but is not always clearly marked. We strongly recommend downloading the route map/GPX file (link at the end of this page). This can then be uploaded to a walking app such as ViewRanger.

We strongly recommend you watch our 4K video of our walk on the Tolkien Trail. It will provide you with a good understanding of what to expect on the walk and prevent you from getting lost.

4k video of a walk on the Tolkien Trail

Many believe that the area was the inspiration for The Shire in The Lord of the Rings. There are certainly similarities. There’s a Shire Lane in Hurst Green. The Shire’s River Shirebourne could possibly be named after the Shireburns, the family that resided at the Stonyhurst estate.

The walk starts near the Shireburn Arms Hotel. The 17th century inn  is located on Whalley Road (postcode BB7 9QJ) in Hurst Green. There’s plenty of free street parking in the area.

Shireburn Arms Hotel and Whalley Road, Hurst Green, Lancashire
Shireburn Arms Hotel and Whalley Road

From the Shireburn Arms, head for the war memorial and then walk down Warren Fold.

War memorial at Hurst Green, Lancashire
War memorial at Hurst Green

On the left you’ll see some beautifully restored houses.

Whitehall, a house on Warren Fold, Hurst Green
Whitehall, a house on Warren Fold, Hurst Green
The Warren, a house on Warren Fold, Hurst Green
The Warren, a house on Warren Fold, Hurst Green

Go through the kissing gate and into the sheep field.

Kissing gate in a field at Hurst Green, Lancashire
Kissing gate

Cross the sheep field, passing a lone tree, and head towards the far side. Follow the path down the far side, and then pass through the gate into the next field.

Sheep in a field at Hurst Green, Lancashire
Sheep field

Follow the path running alongside the fence. In the distance you can see Pendle Hill. The red brick building is the cricket pavilion of Stonyhurst College.

Path along edge of field
Path along edge of field

Stonyhurst College is a co-educational Catholic boarding and day school. It was established in 1794 at the Stonyhurst estate after relocating from Liege (now in Belgium).

View of Stonyhurst College cricket pavillion
View of Stonyhurst College cricket pavillion

Tolkien often stayed at Stonyhurst College when one of his sons was evacuated here during World War II. Tolkien was writing The Lord of the Rings at the time.  

Go through the gate at the end of the field. There’s a sign warning that this area is used by Stonyhurst College for clay pigeon shooting. Walkers are supposed to ring the bell to warn any shooters of their presence.

Gate and Stonyhurst College sign warning about clay pigeon shooting
Gate and Stonyhurst College sign warning about clay pigeon shooting

Walk across the field towards the turreted buildings in the distance.

Path on the Tolkien Trail
Walk towards the buildings in the distance

Go through the gate at the end of the field.

The main buildings of Stonyhurst College are on the left. Take a slight detour to see Stonyhurst College if you wish.

Main entrance to Stonyhurst College
Main entrance to Stonyhurst College
 St Peter's Church, Stonyhurst College
St Peter’s Church, Stonyhurst College

To follow the Tolkien Trail turn right and follow the road. The building on the left is Stonyhurst Observatory. This is a functioning observatory and weather station managed by Stonyhurst College. It was built in 1866.

Stonyhurst Observatory at Stonyhurst College
Stonyhurst Observatory

Continue along the road until you reach Hall Barns Farm. Turn left before the entrance to the farm and follow the road running alongside the farm buildings.

Walkers approaching Hall Barns Farm, Hurst Green
Walkers approaching Hall Barns Farm

Hall Barn Farm is thought to date back to the 16th century. Many of its buildings are listed.

Road by side of Hall Barns Farm
Road by side of Hall Barns Farm

Go through the gate. On the left you’ll see Gardener’s Cottage.

Gardener's Cottage, Stonyhurst College
Gardener’s Cottage

Continue along the tarmac road. On the left are the sports fields of Stonyhurst College.

Road by side of sports fields
Road by side of sports fields

There’s an excellent view of Pendle Hill on the right.

View of Pendle Hill
View of Pendle Hill

You’ll soon come to a main road (Knowles Brow) and the hamlet of Woodfields. The houses at Woodfields are owned by Stonyhurst College and used for staff accommodation.

Approaching houses at Woodfields, Knowles Brow
Approaching houses at Woodfields

Cross Knowles Brow and take the road between the houses.

Road through Woodfields
Road through Woodfields

There’s a very nice converted barn on the right.

Converted barn
Converted barn

On reaching the woods, leave the road and take the path to the right.

Take the path to the right
Take the path to the right

Follow the path through the field. At the end of the field, duck under the barbed wire fence and go into the woods (Over Hacking Wood).

Path through field, Over Hacking Wood to the left
Path through field, Over Hacking Wood to the left
Path enters Over Hacking Wood
Path enters Over Hacking Wood

Head down the steep path and cross the stream using the wooden bridge.

Wooden bridge in Over Hacking Wood
Wooden bridge in Over Hacking Wood

Follow the path with the stream on your right.

Path through Over Hacking Wood
Path through Over Hacking Wood

Turn right over the stone bridge.

Stone bridge in Over Hacking Wood
Stone bridge in Over Hacking Wood

Follow the path through the woods.

At the top of the hill you’ll see Hodder Place. This building dates from the late 18th century. Until the 1970s it was a preparatory school for Stonyhurst College. It has now been converted into apartments.

Hodder Place, Stonyhurst, Lancashire
View of Hodder Place

Once out of the woods, follow the track. The River Hodder is on the left, but is obscured by trees.

Path by side of River Hodder
Path by side of River Hodder

There’s a weir just before the river heads south.

Continue along the gravel track. Crop fields are on the right. The River Hodder is on the left but still obscured by trees.

River views get better further along the track.

River Hodder
River Hodder

The path eventually reaches Whalley Road (B6243). Take a minute to leave the Tolkien Trail and visit Cromwell’s Bridge.

Cromwell's Bridge, River Hodder
Cromwell’s Bridge, River Hodder

There is a good view of Cromwell’s Bridge from Lower Hodder Bridge.

Lower Hodder Bridge
Lower Hodder Bridge

Cromwell’s Bridge is an old packhorse bridge. It is named after Oliver Cromwell. The Parliamentarian marched his army over it in 1648 to fight the Royalists at the Battle of Preston.

Cromwell’s Bridge is no longer in use but it is possible to walk over it. Walk down the path at the side of Lower Hodder Bridge.

Walking over Cromwell's Bridge
Walking over Cromwell’s Bridge

Lower Hodder Bridge is a three-arched stone bridge. It was built in 1819 to replace Cromwell’s Bridge.

Walk up Whalley Road. This is a busy road and the pavement is narrow in places.

Whalley Road
Whalley Road

On the left you’ll see a beautiful converted farmhouse (Springwood).

Springwood, Whalley Road
Springwood, Whalley Road

Continue up the road until the junction with Knowles Brow and the bus shelter. Then go through the gate and go across the field.

Path across field near Knowles Brow
Path across field near Knowles Brow

Go through the gate and follow the path by the side of the hedgerow.

In the next field, go towards the gate to the left of the farm buildings.

Follow the path to the left of the farm buildings
Follow the path to the left of the farm buildings

Pass through the gate and follow the road down the hill.

Road to Winckley Hall Farm
Road to Winckley Hall Farm

You’ll soon reach Winckley Hall Farm. Go through the farm and then turn right.

Winckley Hall Farm
Winckley Hall Farm

Continue along the track. The River Hodder joins the River Ribble here. The confluence is obscured by trees.

River Hodder joins River Ribble near here
River Hodder joins River Ribble near here

The track then follows the route of the River Ribble.

River Ribble
River Ribble

There are good views of the river in places.

Tolkien Trail and the River Ribble
Path runs alongside River Ribble

The River Calder then joins the River Ribble. Hacking Hall is close to confluence. It was built at the beginning of the 17th century.

Hacking Hall, Lancashire
Hacking Hall

The Hacking Ferry used to operate here. The ferry service was started in the 17th century by the Shireburns of Stonyhurst to carry tenants to services at a church on the other side of the river.

The ferry grew in popularity and operated throughout the week until the late 1930s. The service ceased completely in 1955.

In the 1980s, one of the ferry boats was discovered in a barn at Winckley Hall Farm. It was refurbished and displayed at Clitheroe Castle Museum.

It is thought that Tolkien used the Hacking Ferry as inspiration for the Bucklebury Ferry in The Lord of the Rings.

The trail continues along the bank of the River Ribble.

Eventually you’ll come to a kissing gate. Go through it and turn left towards the small building. This is New Jumbles Flow Measurement Station. It is used to monitor the river level and warn about potential flooding.

Kissing gate on Tolkien Trail walk
Kissing gate
New Jumbles Flow Measurement Station
New Jumbles Flow Measurement Station

You’ll then pass a great barn conversion (Jumbles Barn).

Jumbles Barn
Jumbles Barn

When the road veers off from the river, leave it and take the path that follows the river.

Path following River Ribble
Leave the road and take the path that follows the river

The path follows the river, but the view is obscured by trees.

The river comes into view. The aqueduct can be seen in the distance.

Aqueduct, River Ribble, Lancashire
Aqueduct

The aqueduct carries water pipes over the River Ribble.

Go over the stile to the right of the aqueduct.

Go through the metal gate into Raid Deep Wood.

Path to Raid Deep Wood
Path to Raid Deep Wood

Cross the stream using the wooden bridge.

Wooden bridge, Raid Deep Wood
Wooden bridge, Raid Deep Wood

The path through the woods is steep in places.

Path through Raid Deep Wood

Cross the stile.

Stile in Raid Deep Wood
Stile in Raid Deep Wood

Follow the path between the trees.

Path on Tolkien Trail, near Hurst Green
Follow the path between the trees

Go right and head towards the farm buildings.

Farm buildings in Hurst Green, Lancashire
Turn right at head towards the farm buildings

At the end of the field, go through the gate.

You are now in the car park of the Shireburn Arms Hotel in Hurst Green.

Shireburn Arms Hotel, Hurst Green

Route Map

Map showing location of Tolkien Trail

Walk Information

Difficulty: Easy
Length: 6.5 miles

GPS Route Map - GPX File

The GPX file is copyrighted. You are welcome to use it on your personal GPS devices but are not permitted to upload it to other websites.

Download GPX File - For GPS devices and smartphone route planning/mapping apps


Add Comment or Additional Information

error: Content is protected !!