The tale stretches back into the mists of time. Where it came from nobody knows. Was it carried across the lands by a race of nomadic story-tellers? Or was it borne from the roots of ancient trees. Wherever it came from, a lot of people believe the tale that the high peaks, rugged corries, tumbling waterfalls and deep green valleys of Torridon provided J. R. R. Tolkien with the inspiration for Middle Earth and the dramatic topography of Lord of the Rings.
Now, we quite like this idea. Certainly the mountainous Torridon landscape has many similarities with fictional Middle Earth but we have yet to find solid evidence that Tolkien strode this part of the world before he dreamed up his tale.
If you don’t have an all-seeing palantir like Saruman but, more prosaically, rely on Google instead, you will find plenty of examples of people writing about Torridon being Tolkien’s inspiration. The latest comes from the Mail Online travel section:
QUESTION: Ever since I read that Torridon in the Scottish Highlands was the inspiration for Middle Earth in Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings, I’ve wanted to visit and enjoy some of the area’s excellent walks. When is a good time to go? Libby Martin, Oxford
ANSWER: Next month, Torridon is holding a new three-day walking festival. Running from October 1 to 3, it has a packed programme that, say festival organisers, aims to entice both adventure-seekers and low-level trekkers to experience some of the best walking in Scotland. The Torridon area is famous for its magnificent rocky peaks and vast lochs, and the sandstone mountains that give the area its reputation are huge, brooding monoliths whose pinnacle crests are a fitting challenge for any expedition.
There are lochside rambles and leisurely woodland walks, while serious walkers will enjoy taking on the epic Liathac or a day scaling Beinn Dearg. There’s also the chance to experience some of the magic of Scotland’s wildest places, with an overnight expedition to a remote bothy, and to spend a day with a professional landscape photographer. For further information visit The Torridon Walking Festival.
Now, we would be delighted if any Tolkien scholars can confirm the Torridon-Middle Earth link. But even if the connection is nothing more than a myth carried across the world by a giant magical web, you can still come to the Torridon Walking Festival next month and enjoy our wondrous and ancient landscape. Just give us a ring!