New Futures for Birmingham`s Historic Buildings

Tolkien-Themed Walk – 1st March 2015

Posted February 19th, 2015 by Anne-Marie Hayes with No Comments
View of Sarehole Mill from the Millpond.  ©Birmingham Museums

View of Sarehole Mill from the Millpond. ©Birmingham Museums

The event below promises to be popular and a great way to take in some of Brum’s finest architecture and historic sites. Gino Bellavia tells us a little bit more about the upcoming event and how you can get involved. 


Organised by the Ramblers Association

Although this is a Rambler’s organised walk, any non members can walk with this group for free for 3 walks before joining the Ramblers charity.

Walk description


Start time: 10.30 am finishing approx 4pm


Distance: approx 8 miles for people coming to start point by public transport.

Approx 9.5 for car users. (due to walk from town centre back to car park)


Rating: Easy walk with some muddy bits but mostly hard surfaces

Full outdoor survival gear is not needed but normal precautions for a comfortable walk are still required.

Bring your lunch with you.


Start Point: Edgbaston reservoir, free car park entered from reservoir road

post code B16 9EE.


Directions: By train: train to Five Ways and then walk to reservoir (approx 1 mile)

By bus: Any bus along Hagley road (A456) from city centre (Colmore Row) and get off at Ivy Bush pub/Monument road, walk down monument road and then turn left at reservoir road and walk to the end.


John Ronald Reul Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein now in South Africa, 3rd Jan 1892. His parents were from Birmingham but his father, Arthur had taken his family to South Africa for business.

In 1895 J.R.R.Tolkien, his bother Hilary and his mother Mabel came to Birmingham to see his grandparents and stayed with them in Kings Heath, but his father died, so the rest of the family stayed in Birmingham, with only the travel trunk they brought with them.

This walk will visit various J.R.R.Tolkien related landmarks, walking along canal routes, parkland and suburban footpaths.

Starting at the reservoir we visit where Tolkien lived and potential inspirations for some of the Lord of the Rings features.


The real Sam Gamgee ©

Highlights include the grade-II listed Waterworks tower and Perrotts folly, allegedly inspiring the two towers but which ones is anyone’s guess. We visit where Tolkien lived nearby and also his relation to the real Sam Gamgee.

We pass the Ivy Bush where old Ham Gamgee held court and visit the Oratory Church where the Tolkien travel trunk is still kept.

We then go along the canal to the University of Birmingham where Tolkien was a patient in the military during the 1st World War and get very close to the Eye of Sauron.

Then we cross the road to King Edwards School where he studied. Although the school in his time was in New Street, a remnant of that school (designed by Charles Barry) is on site in the form of the old chapel.

After the school, we walk over to the Rea Valley and along roads to Moseley bog nature reserve, and end up at Sarehole Mill, in what was in Tolkien’s time, Sarehole Village, his inspiration for the Shire.

Tolkien lived in Birmingham from 1895 to 1911 in about 9 homes. Whilst not providing all the inspirations for his books, Tolkien’s stay in Birmingham certainly left a mark.

From Sarehole Mill, we walk to Hall Green Station (approx 0.5km) and get local train back into town centre.

Those arriving by train or bus can therefore go home from here. Those parked at the reservoir will have another 2 mile walk along canal back to the reservoir.

Gino Bellavia

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