Alongside the Ribble and Hodder from Hurst Green: In the footsteps of Tolkien

Jumbles Rocks on the River Ribble
casting a fly, River Ribble

Walk Overview:

JRR Tolkien wrote most of his novel ‘The Lord of the Rings’ from his base at Stonyhurst.

Could Hobbiton be the village of Hurst Green? Was the River Shirebourne named after the Shireburn family who built the Stonyhurst Estate? Many comparisons have been speculated ‘cause Tolkien must have been greatly influenced by this landscape, without doubt some of the local names found their way into his novel.

One of Tolkiens favourite walks was to the Hacking ferry crossing on the Ribble, by the old Hacking ferry is the early Jacobean Hacking Hall, built in 1607, incidentally, the ferry boathouse is now in Clitheroe Castle Museum.

The towered and turreted Stonyhurst College is almost mystical, both in its grandeur and location, set among the green rolling hills, woodland and forest in the heart of the Ribble Valley. Along this walk, you will enjoy wonderful views of this most inspirational landscape.

But Hurst Green and its surrounding area is much more than an inspiration for ‘Middle Earth’, the landscape and politics for more than a century was dominated by the dynasties of successive Shireburn Lords of Stonyhurst, through ambitious building projects and uncompromising loyalty to Roman Catholicism that only ceased when the male bloodline failed and the female heir died. The estate divided changing it forever. In 1794, Stonyhurst was placed in the hands of the Jesuit English College at Liege when it became a boarding school for catholic boys, it is one of the foremost public schools in the country.

Wander through this unspoilt landscape, you may experience a unique combination of iconic architecture set amongst a rural backdrop that links medieval England with the present day. Our walk follows the banks of the Ribble to the Hacking ferry.

As we cross pastures to join the River Hodder, the view of Stonyhurst College is symbolic, it stirs feelings as it peers out of the rolling hills, this must have inspired Tolkien. Here is one of my favourite views of Stonyhurst College, particularly on a misty morning.

Our walk passes the ancient bridge across the Hodder, known as Cromwells Bridge before returning to Hurst Green through the Stonyhurst Estate.

Fly-by Video:

Watch the Fly-by video of the walk

Walk Details:
Start: Hurst Green: BB7 9QJ, SD68526 37939
Distance 11km (6.5 miles)
Ascent: 90m
Grade: Moderate
NB: grading is based upon normal conditions & can be subjective
Countryside Code for the public:
be safe - plan ahead & follow any signs
leave gates & property as you find them
protect plants & animals
take your litter home
keep dogs under close control
consider other people
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Recommended map is OS Explorer map sheet 287.

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