An unexpected view of the Shire?

Completed my first freelance commission yesterday and it turned out to be rather marvellous. There’s a walk on the northern rim of the Ribble Valley where, after an hour of steady climbing, you dive into a dense conifer plantation and emerge on the crest of the ridge with a drystone wall slightly obscuring the view. Climb over the wall, and you’re suddenly overwhelmed by this amazing vista…


It’s rumoured that this panorama inspired JRR Tolkien’s vision of The Shire in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and on a calm, slightly hazy autumn day, it feels entirely plausible. Admittedly, there are many landscapes up and down the country that lay claim to the mantle of Tolkien’s muse, but there is some substance to this particular legend.

Tolkien stayed at nearby Stonyhurst College while his son was a pupil there, and in between doing a spot of informal tutoring, the author spent much of his time wandering the hills and writing drafts for his novels.


The return route from the stunning view from the top of the ridge passes the imposing frontage of the college – I’ll post the entire route when I have a few hours to write it up, but for now it’s back to report writing. It pays the bills…

Author: Mark Sutcliffe

Freelance content consultant and editor specialising in the outdoors, environment, sustainability, walking and cycling.

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