Nicole J Simms/ September 15, 2017/ Blog/ 0 comments

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On the 26th August 2017, we (the Oldbury Writing Group) went on the Birmingham Tolkien Trail (Moseley Bog, Sarehole Mill, and Shire Country Park) to celebrate our third birthday.

Being a Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings fan, I couldn’t wait to go on this trip and see how these places inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to create his enchanting world.

Before heading off to start our magical adventure, I decided to give myself an elf name (we were on a Tolkien trail after all). I found an online Tolkien Elf name generator and chose the name Rusgeth, which means female fox (I love foxes). I wasn’t the only one to choose a name. Angela also decided to play along (she’s fun like that) and chose the name Laveneth, which means female animal. Angela is a huge animal lover, so I thought the name was quite fitting. As well as choosing a name, I also decided to try to recreate one of the elf hairstyles that are in the films. After a thorough search, I found a YouTube video that showed you how to recreate Tauriel’s hairstyle from the Hobbit movies – Tauriel is an extra character created for the films, but she isn’t in the books, but hey, she’s an elf, and her hairstyle was amazing.

Oldbury Writing Group Trip – Birmingham Tolkien Trail Part 1 - Tauriel's hairstyle

[Tauriel’s hairstyle]

We (Dave, Angela, and I) caught the metro into Birmingham City Centre. And while in Birmingham we saw one of the Big Sleuth Bears – I think it’s called Bhangra Bear.

Moseley Bog

We started our Tolkien adventure in Moseley Bog. When we arrived, we waited for our fourth comrade, Julian. The entrance to Mosely Bog had gates that you could imagine were gates to an elf kingdom. Of course, we had to take our first OWG selfie at this spot. Selfie down, we then began our adventure into the Moseley Bog not knowing if we would make it out alive or sane. We found a map before we walked further into the Bog. And Julian brought a compass and his survival skills – if the zombie apocalypse ever happens, I want him in my survival group.

Grand trees which looked like they belonged in Middle Earth surrounded us as we walked. A multitude of birds tweeted together as if they were a bird choir. I took out my notepad and filled in my observation chart. Sadly, I couldn’t write quick enough to get all the detail down. We mostly stuck to the wooden path, but on occasion, I would see something and wander off the path, possibly leading my group to their doom, but thankfully we always found the path again.

Angela found herself another magical staff where she carved the OWG name into the ground. The deeper we strolled into the Bog, the more the foul toilet stench filled our nostrils, but that didn’t stop us from continuing our journey. We saw parts of the Bog that reminded us of the Shire, such as a green archway of trees and leaves. We also found a log which had a multi-coloured dragonfly carved into it, or it could have been a real magical dragonfly that was hiding from us. Of course, we had to take a photo of it, but no selfie.

Finally, we found Moseley Bog’s pond. Now, I was expecting sparkling clear water (or at least something that looked like water) where birds and other wildlife would frolic in, but instead, we saw a pea green coloured pond – Angela informed me that the pond was simply covered with green algae. Even so, it still looked gross, and wouldn’t be taking a swim in it. I could also imagine a swamp monster climbing out of the pond.

The Hungry Hobbit

Thanks to Julian’s directions, we made it out of the Bog alive. Our next task was finding a place to eat. I had found a café called the Hungry Hobbit, which I believe Julian had previously eaten in, so we decided to eat there. I ordered chips and beans and a mocha, which was quite nice. I was disappointed that the café wasn’t dressed up to look like an eatery in the Shire, but I was informed that it had previously done this, but due to copyright issues, they had to remove all the decoration. It’s a shame, though; it would have allowed us to fully believe that we had been transported into Tolkien’s world.

After our food, we embarked on the next part of our Tolkien adventure. But before we set off, Julian put on his adventure hat, which made the rest of the group have hat envy.

Sarehole Mil

This was my second visit to Sarehole Mill, but the place was still as magical as the first time I visited. After a short walk from the Hungry Hobbit, we entered Sarehol Mill’s cute gift shop. Angie and I couldn’t wait to see what delights were on offer. I, not being able to control myself, bought a pink torch with the words ‘Sarehole Mill’ written on, and a pink Sarehole Mill pen.

Oldbury Writing Group Trip – Birmingham Tolkien Trail Part 1 - What I bought from Sarehole Mill

[What I bought from Sarehole Mill]

Once we prised ourselves from the gift shop, we started our tour of the mill. Our first stop was the miniature version of the two towers, where we took plenty of photos. We then sat by a nearby tree and took another selfie (Yes, that was my idea lol). Photos taken, we headed further into Sarehole Mill. We didn’t go inside the Mill because you have to pay to enter (and I’ve already gone inside before), but we did explore the grounds, the garden, and tea room.

I was excited to see the pool again, and I couldn’t wait to use my binoculars so I could do some bird watching. However, I was surprised to see that the pool was also green like the pond in Moseley Bog. I did, however, see a coot, a grey heron, and female mallard ducks which all seemed to be enjoying themselves in the sick-coloured pool.

After a moment of watching the birds live their lives, we then went on to explore the garden, which has been designed to look like it could be a hobbit’s garden. I was able to take a photo of a robin sitting in the tree. Any child (or big kid) could easily spend hours in here allowing their imagination to run wild. I can see how this place could have inspired Tolkien’s Shire.

Shire Country Park

Our final part of the Tolkien Trail was a five kilometre Shire Country Park walk that I found online. If you’re trying to get fit, then I would recommend this walk to you. We, however, walked at a leisurely pace. We started the walk at John Morris Jones Walkway. Magnificent trees that would look menacing at night surrounded us. On route, we saw what looked like a seating area or someone’s back garden and discussed how lovely it would be to have the view of the woods and the river in your garden. It’s easy to forget that you are in Birmingham and that roads are not too far away because while exploring, we couldn’t hear any traffic. All we could hear was the bird choir singing their exquisite song and the wind rustling through the trees.

We were dragged out of our little fantasy world when we had to cross a road to reach the other side of the walk, but once on the other side. On route, we saw a wooden sign, which directed us to our next part of the walk, which was the Trittiford Mill Pool. There was a bridge that we had to cross, and Angie, Julian, and Dave, kindly agreed to pose on the bridge (see video).

While walking, we came upon a clearing where an inviting bench encouraged us to take a seat. This is where Julian encouraged us to do silly poses. We were each given two poses that we had to do for the photo. The first pose was me being tempted by a nice pair of shoes, and the second pose was me having to choose between a pair of shoes and chocolate.

After doing the pose, we continued on our journey. While back in the wood surroundings, we spotted a wooden throne, which is called The Throne of Creation and is created by Graham Jones. Of course, I insisted that we all pose on the chair and pretend to be royalty. I joked and said we were like the two kings and two queens out of the Narnia stories.

Our last stop was the Trittiford Mill Pool. Thankfully, this pool wasn’t full of green algae. It was, however, surrounded by a multitude of geese. After taking some photos, we decided to make our way back, but we vowed to return.

The next day I felt like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, but I don’t regret going on the Tolkien Trail. I had a brilliant day – it was truly an inspirational trip. I can see why these places inspired Tolkien. The weather was lovely – we couldn’t have asked for a better day. It was a peaceful and relaxing trip. We still have the second half of the Birmingham Tolkien Trail to do, so I’m looking forward to that. I do love our group trips. No matter where we go, we always have a fantastic day. I can’t wait for our next trip.

Have you ever been on the Birmingham Tolkien Trail or any Tolkien Trail? If you have, then I would love to hear your experiences, so feel free to comment below.

Keep writing, folks!

My latest, The Horror Tree, post can be found at the link below.

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