You don't have to be a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien to know about 'Middle-earth', the fictional universe setting of many of his fantasy writings. But did you know that the places that inspired Tolkien are practically on your doorstep? You can discover how his experiences on the battlefields of the Somme were reflected in his novels by driving along the Remembrance Trail. This historic and literary adventure is just an hour and a half from the Calais terminal – giving you even more reason to visit for the day!
The Remembrance Trail takes you through memorial sites that commemorate the Battle of the Somme. Stretching from the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region to Beaucourt-sur-l'Ancre, this 151km historical journey will carry you through the momentous events of The Great War.
Tolkien wrote about the heroic actions of his fellow soldiers during battle, turning his 'hideous' experiences into inspiration for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The trail is a real journey through time - here are a few of my favourite places that I recommend you visit en-route:
1. Thiepval Memorial to the Missing
Located near Beaumont-Hamel, this major war memorial is dedicated to over 72,000 missing soldiers who died in the Battle of the Somme and had no known grave. It's one of the largest British battle memorials in the world; the walls are inscribed with the names of thousands of British and South African fallen soldiers - a truly moving and thought-provoking experience.
2. Newfoundland Park Memorial
This memorial park is unique in that it's one of only a handful of sites where the ground has remained largely untouched since WWI ended. There are 74-acres of preserved battlefield park, commemorating those who lost their lives during The Great War. You can visit for free and receive a guided tour of the grounds where Tolkien's literary creations were formed.
Newfoundland Memorial Park
3. Lochnager Crater
This is an amazing sight regardless of whether you are a history buff or not. The 300ft wide and 70ft deep man-made crater is a unique memorial site. Incredibly, it was created by an explosive-packed mine that was detonated on the first day of the Battle of the Somme – this is a 'must-see.'
There are so many other fascinating historical sites that you can stop off at along the way; Albert, Froissy, La Boisselle…all of which can be easily reached by car. The advantage of a self-drive tour is that you get to decide where and when to stop – making your trip unique and memorable.
Circuit of remembrance