Back in June 2021, I received an invitation to visit Rivendell – Lord of the Rings, a Homestead region design by Seraph Nirvana and Nida Nirvana (Nidatine). At the time the invite came in, I did drop in for a visit but things being what they were I had to wait for another day to make a longer visit. Thus, with apologies to Seraph and Nida, I’m only just getting to this write-up.
The first couple of things to note about the region is that whilst based on Rivendell / Imladris (depending on your preference), this is not a fantasy role-play environment. Rather, it is a quiet place open to visitors for meeting, exploring and taking photographs. The second point to note is that the setting is not in any way intended to be a reflection of Imladris as seen in the likes of Peter Jackson’s epic movies; rather this is an entirely personal interpretation that seeks to present the elven haven – albeit with a small twist.
There is no formal landing point set for the region, so I’ve arbitrarily offered one here that delvers visitors deep in the valley and – surprisingly – onto the deck of a ship. Surprisingly because, as all LOTR fans know, Rivendell lies far, far inland. But rather than being an anachronism, the presence of the ship, looking to the West as it does, offers that little twist to the setting as it links Rivendell with another elven centre on Middle Earth: the Grey Havens, the port from which the elves (and those chosen to travel with them) departed via Círdan’s ships for the Blessed Realm.
A further reason for selecting the ship as a landing point, is that it allows the fullest appreciation of the setting, as it offers the two ways by which visitors can approach the setting and gain a full appreciation for how it sits within a cleft-like valley that appears to have been sliced into the lands that sit above it – just as Tolkien intended.
The first of these, reached via steps and a high tower with the greeting Feel Welcome, Friend at its base, presents an elevated view of Rivendell, a graceful stone bridge spanning the valley to reach it.
However, I’d actually recommend the second route. It is not as initially obvious, but lies between the ship and the steep shoulder of land that rises next to it (and against which the tower mentioned above rises). Here on the sand, a wooden walkway winds through the valley floor, hugging the water’s edge to reach a path that rises with the slopes to the east. Marked by lanterns and under the shade of trees, it twists its way up to another bridge, this one roofed to help protect travellers from the spray of the falls behind it. Across this bridge, the path pitches up again, passing the outliers of Rivendell before arriving at the haven proper.
It is this route that perhaps offers a fuller appreciation of how Seraph and Nida have built their Rivendell into the slopes and cliffs of their valley, from the great arched walkway that stands almost as a protective buttress for the setting as it follows the curves of the high falls above which it has been built, to come to the elven house that sit both above and back from those falls, which might perhaps be the dwelling of Elrond himself.
Gathered around and below this house are numerous points of interest – the curving walkway itself, as it links a plaza with ruined walls and dominated by a great fountain with a tower that connects it with the grand bridge below; a walled garden enclosing a house that may have been built to make visitors feel at home, and winding paths that lead to spaces further afield, including the domed gazebo passed on the way up from the valley floor.
One of these additional spaces sits above the main path. It is reached via the path up from the valley floor, continuing as it does past the house, twisting back on itself to reach an almost hidden arboretum that houses another fountain. However, this isn’t the highest structure within the valley. That honour belongs to a high, square tower that stands aloft and alone on a shelf of rock, a high and apparently unreachable sentinel.
All of this makes for a design that is marvellously engaging in presentation, and quite breath-taking in its beauty. Some elven purists might be critical of the “non-elven” elements found throughout – the little house, the appearance of a grand piano within the elven house, some of the statues scattered throughout the setting. etc. But the fact is, none of these touches detract from the Rivendell in any way. Rather, they tend to enhance it, offering touches of familiarity, a sense of romance and – with the swings and seats – places to rest and simply drink in the entire environment, making it a destination that should not be missed.
- Rivendell – Lord of the Rings (Evermore, rated Moderate)