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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Paths in Middle-Earth

just_a_guy
The Shire

Dec 18 2017, 6:14am

Post #1 of 4 (1490 views)
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Paths in Middle-Earth Can't Post

I was wondering who made all those paths in MIddle-Earth. If some wanderers of the land made paths then there is good chance that wanderers ran into some difficulty and path may lead you astray.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Dec 18 2017, 3:32pm

Post #2 of 4 (1447 views)
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"Roads Go Ever Ever On" [In reply to] Can't Post

Often we are looking at long-established paths here; many of them have become well-developed roads. In their heydays, such roads would have been kept in good repair; way stations and guard posts would likely have been common features on the Dwarf-road through Mirkwood and both the East-West Road and North-South Road through Eriador.

Even many of the major roads were problematic by the last part of the Third Age. Neither Gandalf nor Thorin Oakenshield were aware that the Old Forest Road had been swallowed up by the marshes at the east end. Tharbad had fallen into ruin and there was no longer a bridge spanning the Greyflood, which was dangerous to ford. especially when the river ran high. If there was a caravan route between Gondor and Dorwinion then it doesn't show up on our maps of Middle-earth. Travelers from the North on the Harad Road were probably subject to attacks from bandits or outright arrest by the Haradrim.

Rangers such as Aragorn and his kin would have been knowledgeable about many lesser paths in Eriador including which ones were relatively safe and which ones were best avoided. Doubtless the Elves of Mirkwood had similar knowledge of paths in the northern part of the Forest. Lossoth hunters and the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains might have been aware of secret passages through the Ered Luin.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


noWizardme
Valinor


Dec 19 2017, 2:32pm

Post #3 of 4 (1347 views)
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...and in addition... [In reply to] Can't Post

The characters certainly do follow many paths that were once proper roads, often ones that have since fallen into disrepair but are still visible.

I think there are other categories. 'Something makes paths' in the Old Forest: we never really find out what (Tom, animals, the trees shifting around to confuse travellers?) I read that more as a literary effect ('there's something there!') than anything else.

In other places, there seem to be very few travellers about (for example, most of the Fellowship's journey from Rivendell to Moria). I expect it takes a fair bit of human traffic for feet to erode a visible path. It will depend on the ground, of course, but maybe there are too few travellers to wear visible paths. Animal tracks might exist, but aren't always good to follow. I've heard of people following those only to realise that people can't take a route that goats can.

Perhaps sometimes the 'paths' are not to be imagined as visible tracks: If I wander around a field, say, I have taken a path in one sense (i.e. my route as it might appear if traced on a map), but I haven't necessarily followed a visible path made by others.

Recently I read Tristan Gooley's Natural Navigator (https://www.naturalnavigator.com/ ) It gave me a sort of Stider's-eye view of how you might find your way without visible tracks.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Dec 19 2017, 3:08pm

Post #4 of 4 (1343 views)
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Paths to and from Moria. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
In other places, there seem to be very few travellers about (for example, most of the Fellowship's journey from Rivendell to Moria). I expect it takes a fair bit of human traffic for feet to erode a visible path. It will depend on the ground, of course, but maybe there are too few travellers to wear visible paths. Animal tracks might exist, but aren't always good to follow. I've heard of people following those only to realise that people can't take a route that goats can


Indeed, on the west side of Khazad-dum I have to imagine that there was once a road that crossed Eregion to intersect with the North-South Road through Eriador. The Dwarves might have even laid the original foundation for the Sarn Ford Road and at least portions of the Great East-West Road. East of the Misty Mountains, I'm not sure that the Dwarf-road through Mirkwood existed before the founding of Erebor, but there must have been some route to the East where Dwarves of other Houses dwelt.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock

 
 

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