“Not all who wander are lost…”- J.R Tolkien
From textbooks, to the tales of Bilbo Baggins.
Mid-exam term, Sam and I decided to take a break from the books (well I did, Sam had yet to open his, so decided he could probably put it off for another day) and escape the student bubble for a while. The student bubble is how I define student life, you can go weeks without really escaping it. Living between halls, campus, the student bar and Selly Oak, and only really hanging out with fellow students, not that it’s a bad thing but sometimes it’s nice to venture out and explore further afield.
Which in this instance included taking a bus, the first public transport I have taken in my year here that hasn’t been the “University to new street” train, that leaves every ten minutes from campus. Challenge 1 of our day was locating the bus stop and getting on the right bus…we just about managed it.
With the help of google maps, and a rather longer walk than anticipated we made it to Sarehole Mill in Moseley a suburb of South Birmingham , and home of the Tolkien trail.
I’m going to stop right here to state, and let the record show that I am categorically not a Lord of the Rings fan. Much to Sam’s dismay, and despite his best efforts to convert me (I fell asleep during both movies one and two and we are yet to attempt movie three) it’s really not my thing.
However exploring new places is, and so I put my own feelings of distain to aside as we arrived at Sarehole Mill, known (so I’m told) in the hobbit as the Great Mill. This water wheel has been converted into a small tourist attraction, with a tea room and shop. We picked the right day for it as there was a fete going on. Sam tried some local cider as we listened to live music, and there were street food vans and stalls and loads of families and people milling around. Round the back the mill there is a small trail littered with little facts that Sam appeared to find fascinating pinned to trees and hidden in the undergrowth.
We then walked past 264 Wake green road, Tolkien’s childhood home on our way to Moseley Bog, the inspiration behind some of the locations in tolkiens books.
I loved the bog, a raised wooden walkway has been created to allow you to walk around, along with bridges and some stair cases, there are small streams running throughout, with the occasional patches of bluebells and other less recognizable flowers, the whole effect was rather enchanting.
What I really enjoyed about it was that we felt like we could uncover these spots for ourselves, the whole thing even though you can print off a “tolkien trail” from several sites online, and considering it’s all over trip advisor and Birmingham “to do” sites it was all very un-touristy.
“You could hardly call the Tolkien Trail over-exploited. Despite the seismic success of the Oscar-winning, big-screen trilogy, references to Tolkien are limited to respectful mentions on the nature reserve noticeboard. And despite Moseley Bog being ripe for little, hairy-footed replicas of Merry, Pippin and Sam, the solitary man-made attraction is a full-length crocodile, carved out of a tree trunk.Instead, the natural forces of damp and mould have been allowed to create their own unique tableaux, featuring armies of wounded and fallen trees, fighting (and in many cases failing) to stay upright in the sodden ground. Meanwhile, hordes of hungry creepers seek out any opportunity to drag once-powerful branches down into the mud.”
We then managed to get a little lost finding our way back, but found a gorgeous lake in a public park where we sat on a bench for a while, trying to estimate how far we reckoned we had walked so far that day, and thankful we had both chosen comfortable walking shoes (having such a thought made us feel very adult.)
We then decided to try some of the street food back at Sarehole mill, and were not disappointed! Sam got chatting to Lloyd the owner of the van, who said he had wanted to quit his job for years and had finally done it about a year ago to run this food truck, after trying some of the testers we completely saw why! We said we hoped to see him at Digbeth dining club sometime (see previous blog post).
It was a great day out, we arrived home pretty exhausted and feet aching from all the walking. Also student friendly as all we spent money on was our bus fare, a couple of ice creams and the street food. Would definitely recommend checking Moseley out.