When I read in my guide book, under “Hogsback”, that this forest is said to have inspired Tolkien in the creation of Middle Earth, I didn’t need to know anything more. I highlighted the place in my guide book, and a few months later, following the road that goes ever on and on, I arrived in Hogsback.
This village is just a cluster of restaurants and tourist stuff around the main road. There, everything has names like “Happy Hogs”, “Lothlorien”, “The Edge”, all kind of names that would feel right in the Shire.
That alone would have been enough to brighten my day, but the place has in fact a lot of activities to offer. And in everything you do there, you’ve got the eerie feeling that you could glimpse a fairy or a hobbit around any corner …
The Fairy Realm
The fairy realm is a garden full of statues representing fairies and other fantastical beasts, beautiful and magical!
This very famous bathtub is situated inside the “Away with the fairies backpackers”, you can of course visit even if you don’t stay there. But if you do, you can actually take a warm bath!
Madonna and Child Waterfall
The hike to the Madonna and Child waterfall starts at Away with the fairies, and goes deep into the forest. On the way, you can see the Big Tree and another waterfall. It’s a rather wild and dark part of the forest, perfect for fairies!
The Edge is a labyrinth experience with a beautiful view on the mountains (but that’s true of pretty much anywhere in Hogsback)!
The Eco Shrine is an amazing outdoor space where art and earth come together. It’s absolutely magical, but often closed, so go there as soon as you see it’s open!
One place to eat: the Butterfly Bistro. The staff is adorable, the prices are small and they have a lot of vegetarian and vegan options. Also, there’s butterflies everywhere (fake ones of course, but beautiful all the same)!
There’s also many activities (canoeing, abseiling, hiking and more) and stuff to do here if you stay longer. Hobbiton also offers leadership courses and volunteering opportunities. Hogsback is definitely one of those quirky hippie places that I love, that are a bit off the map and concerned with the environnement and not only in getting more tourists!
Where to stay? I stayed at Terra Khaya, which is the ultimate eco-backpackers. The real dream: puppies and kittens everywhere, outdoor showers, off the grid energy, delicious homemade meals, free craft center, … I really recommend it! What’s more, you get a free night and meal if you manage to reach the place using only public transport (of course I made it, come on!).
To reach Hogsback, take the bus to East London, then another bus to Alice. The bus will leave you where mini taxis (those shuttles that wait until they’re full) can pick you up and bring you to Hogsback. Easy peasy!