A Portal to Middle Earth


I thought I had to go to New Zealand to see Middle Earth. I was wrong.

Birmingham was my home base while in England. It was only after I arranged to stay here that I discovered that at one time, it was Tolkien’s home base too.

As a small child, around the turn of the 20th century, John Ronald Reul Tolkien lived with his mother and brother in an apartment on Wake Green Road, just across the street from what he called “a kind of lost paradise”.

One paradise he refers to is Sarehole Mill.

IMG_1560 (2)

Sarehole Mill

Little John (no reference to Robin Hood here intended, *wink wink*) and his brother would sneak into the woods and pond around the mill and play games until the miller chased them out. I imagine them tailing it like Peter Rabbit after he ate Mr. MacGregor’s vegetables, the miller waving his fists and shouting “You rascals! Stay off my property!”

Tolkien’s memories of these idyllic times were inspiration for his imagination of the Shire. Today, the mill is a museum dedicated to his legacy.

My friend Nikki was kind enough to take me on a tour of the mill and its surrounding areas.

The Mill Pool

The Mill Pool


You can see how Tolkien might have been inspired by these surroundings.



A handmade carving of a crocodile lurking in the woods around the pond.

An even more beautiful lost paradise of Tolkien is the mysterious forest of Moseley Bog. Tolkien said that these woods were his muse for the Old Forest surrounding the Shire. It’s just a green pasture’s walk away from the Mill…

IMG_1565 (2)

A look back at the Mill’s chimney rising above the trees as we crossed the pasture.


Mosely Bog or “The Old Forest”?


A lovely little stream lined with an organic fence


There were more handmade carvings in the Bog. This one is a dragonfly!


“Swamp, yes yes. Come master. We will take you on safe paths, through the mist.”


Perhaps my favorite picture of the day.


My friend tells me these wooden planks were laid along the pathway by convicts. You can see the imprints of wiring along the wood, colored and dampened by moss. I felt as though I were walking on top of dragon scales.

IMG_1575 (2)

This tree looks like a fiery phoenix nest.


A gnarly, wizened old tree, perfect for climbing…


And for sitting…


A glance back at the meadow in the waning afternoon light as we head back to the streets of Birmingham.

These sites were among the best of those spontaneous and serendipitous gems that sometimes accompany exploring the world. I certainly never expected to find such beauty tucked away in what is the the second largest city in England. What a magical experience.

One thought on “A Portal to Middle Earth

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s