I remember when I first read Lord of the Rings. I was in 7th grade, and even though I’d heard about the books before then, for some reason I didn’t get to Middle Earth until I was in Middle School. Dry prose and dense narrative did nothing to dissuade me — within pages I was hooked on that world of Elves and Men, of Rings and Powers. Little did I know that one day there would be movies to give new life to the stories in those pages, or that I would tread the paths walked by the heroes contained in them. Little did I know that I would visit the Land of the Rohirrim and climb the flanks of Edoras…
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can.” – J. R. R. Tolkien
The location used for Edoras in the films is known as Mt. Sunday, and it’s located 48 km up a rough, gravel road from the town of Mount Somers. I’d made the rattling drive the day prior, spending the night at Mt. Potts Lodge, and was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the short hike.
The trail started off through a soggy mire, requiring some light-footed scrambling. A prim couple with spotless boots and immaculately styled hair watched as I clattered and lurched across a makeshift ford, eventually choosing to stay behind and enjoy the views from a safe distance. I left them there, blinking owlishly across the plain, and made my way closer.
A series of ranges ring the valley, nearly all of the peaks dwarfing the diminutive Mt. Sunday — alone on its gravel plain. The air was cold, and the wind — unblocked by trees, or outcrops of terrain — chilled things further. Dark grey clouds scudded across the sky to the north and southwest, and I knew I wouldn’t have long before the rain began.
I climbed the mount, the trail a narrow stripe right up the spine of it. I could almost see the modest wooden dwellings and shops hugging the ridge, could almost hear the sound of children calling out as they chased each other around the stables. But when I opened my eyes, the only sign of settlement to be seen was a blinking bovine staring placidly at me as I crested the summit.
I sat there and ate my lunch, breathing deep the crisp air of Rohan, and let my thoughts ride the breeze. The Road had led me there, but it stretched still further on ahead of me. I would follow it once more later that afternoon, but I wanted to stay in the company of legends for a little while longer…
How about you? Have you visited any of the Lord of the Rings filming locations? Which one, and what did you think? Share your experiences in the comments below!