The maps look like something ripped out of the pages of a Tolkien book: pyramidal mountains like sharp teeth, forests of glyph-like trees, hand-inked names. But instead of Mordor, British artist Dan Bell is charting national parks.
So far, Bell has brought the Lord of the Rings author’s style to a handful of English parks, and hopes to move on to Wales, Scotland, and the United States’ reserves next; he’s already mapped Yellowstone National Park.
“I’ve always been a fan of Tolkien’s works, and I think his map of Middle-Earth is so iconic and the style so recognisable,” says Bell
It was science, not art, that originally sparked Bell’s interest in the outdoors; he recently finished his master’s degree in ecology, evolution, and conservation at Imperial College London, and has spent time in the Andes, the Amazon, Madagascar, and other destinations seeking out “some weird and wonderful creatures.” He originally planned to go on to a PhD program, he says, but he put those plans on hold to pursue cartography full time.
But in between drawing some of his favorite hikes, he still makes time to get out for them: his favorite hike, Pavey Ark in the Lake District, is in the middle of one of his latest maps.
Find more of Dan Bell’s work on his website, Middle Earth’s Maps.