DSC02663I have never been a fan of Tolkien’s works. I dutifully read The Hobbit way back then but never progressed to The Rings Trilogy. My imagination doesn’t go along with his. Yet here on my doorstep we have a landscape which possibly influenced his writings – the Ribble Valley. He visited Hurst Green and Stonyhurst College where his son was boarding. Hence, a tourist devised Tolkien Trail, wooded valleys and secret riverbanks, has taken shape and become very popular.

I was here today for a short walk mainly to check that past storms haven’t affected an old oak tree by the River Ribble on part of that ‘Tolkien Trail’.

It’s a short day, late up after Xmas day festivities and rain scheduled by noon. I park by that bus stop shelter if you know it above Lower Hodder Bridge. The path to Winkley Hall used to be a boggy affair, but no more. It has been upgraded somehow with stone chippings across the field, an advantage of the popularity of Tolkien.

Through the farm, suitably decorated with Xmas trees, and I’m at the junction of the Hodder and the Ribble in Middle Earth. Here stands a favourite tree of mine, yet another one you may say. The Winkley Oak with its majestic lower bole. How old? Maybe100, 200 or more years. What history has it seen in these parts? It is in good shape I’m glad to see.

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Blessings given I carried on my way to the next river junction where the River Calder joins in the fun. There used to be a ferry here and the old boat house is nearby. The river rushed on past Jumbles. A few dog walkers appeared coming from Hurst Green. Another tree took my attention with its skeletal winter outline against the grey sky.



I left the trail and followed a lane to Fox Fields, a curious conglomeration of industrial units, and then I was in all things Hobbity. The Winkley Estate has done up some of its cottages and built a large ‘Wedding Venue’ complete with those ubiquitous pods in the woods. Everywhere are Tolkien references.DSC02686DSC02659


I was soon back at the car, mission accomplished. We need more trees in our lives.

I will need longer outings than today’s three miles to walk off the Xmas excesses.


Capture Tolkien.

20 thoughts on “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TREES.

  1. Michael Graeme

    Good to see the Winkley Oak is all right. I remember coming across it for the first time and it stopped me in my tracks. It’s a stunning tree. Often been intrigued by those tumulii in the meadows, which I don’t suppose are accessible without trespassing.

  2. Eunice

    I’ve never read any of Tolkien’s works, I instinctively know his stuff isn’t my type of thing, and I’m afraid the cynic in me has to wonder just how much that area influenced his work. I like the shot of the skeletal tree against the grey sky and the two trees in the last shot 🙂

    1. bowlandclimber Post author

      A morning snatched from nothing.
      The local tourist board is responsible for much of the Tolkien associations and local businesses have jumped on the bandwagon.

  3. Clare

    My friend at Winkley Hall Farm reckons the tree could be 500 years old. Experts from Kew estimated at least 300. Great to imagine what it must have witnessed!

  4. shazza

    I am glad that the Old Oak is doing well. It looks good. Haven’t done the Tolkien Trail for a few years, sounds like it’s had a bit of an upgrade.

    1. bowlandclimber Post author

      Was that the ash in the church ground at St. Pancreas?
      Ashes only live a hundred years or so, whereas oaks and yews can live thousands,
      The recent relaxing of planning consents has been the death warrant to thousands of trees from small housing developments to HS2.


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