Note: Though COVID-19 has stalled a lot of travel plans, we hope our stories can offer inspiration for your future adventures—and a bit of hope.
If you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings, you may have had some trouble getting to Middle-Earth—or even just New Zealand, where more than 150 locations around the country were filmed in Peter Jackson’s LOTR trilogy. Luckily, Spain’s new hiking trail is a bit more accessible: Dubbed El Camino del Anillo—or “The Way of the Ring”—the 76-mile trail crosses dramatic landscapes, picturesque villages, and crumbling ramparts reminiscent of places described in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books.
Starting about an hour north of Madrid, the trail crosses the Sierra de Guadarrama range and is meant to be completed across seven days and seven nights. Attractions along the way include Buitrago del Lozoya Castle (said to resemble the fictional village of Bree), the area of El Berrueco (Hobbiton meadow), and the medieval town of Patones (the grasslands of Rohan).
El Camino del Anillo was developed by the Laudato Si Foundation, which is under the Archbishop of Madrid. Planning the route took five years of research and hiking, reports Madrid newspaper La Razón, and is a way to raise awareness of the region, whose population is shrinking.
Should travelers choose to hike the trail as part of an organized group with El Camino del Anillo, they will be capped at 20 members and stay at parochial houses made available to hikers. (Like Spain’s most famous pilgrimage route, El Camino de Santiago, El Camino del Anillo is tied to religion, but its organizers note that they offer “pilgrimages for all kinds of groups, believers and non-believers. We want to share with you the sense of wonder at the nature and values of Tolkien’s work.”) Travelers can also hike El Camino del Anillo on their own, but are advised to contact email@example.com for more information on accommodations along the way.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, El Camino del Anillo organizers have outlined a set of rules that the groups will follow: Masks will be provided for stays, and accommodations will only be one-third full. Any shelters will also be disinfected daily.
Though the European Union has currently barred travelers from the United States, its list of “allowed” countries will be updated every two weeks. In the meantime, you can always “transport” yourself by reading—or re-reading—Tolkien’s classics themselves.
Buy Now: J.R.R. Tolkien 4-Book Boxed Set: The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings: The Hobbit, the Fellowship of the Ring, the Two Towers, the Return of the King, $32 (was $36), bookshop.org
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