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Discussing: Travel Times and Distances

Travel Times and Distances

Seems as if this would be a good general-purpose place to post questions involving travel. Have done quite a bit of research in "Atlas of ME" for Sam and Rose's trip to Gondor, but now need more, much more, and would appreciate any insights others have to offer. WIll still be doing research of my own, of course, but like to have a second opinion just in case I mess up my numbers (not at all unlikely, I must admit. Numbers and I are not on a first-name basis).

Here's the scenario:

How long would it take for a swift messenger to go from Bree to Rohan, then to Minas Tirith?

Assuming there is famine in the Shire and Breeland due to prolonged drought, but harvests in the South have been bumper crops (happens all the time, one region suffers whilst another blossoms), would it be realistic to ship wagon loads and shiploads of grain to the North?

How many wagonloads/shiploads would be realistic to send? Was postulating that the Rohirrim might not grow a lot of grain (OTOH, would they?), but import from the breadbasket in Gondor. However, the King, learning about the threatened famine on one of his periodic visits to Lake Evandim, could conceivably ask Rohan to send grain via wagon northwards, promising to replenish Rohan's supply; and then send shiploads of grain down the Anduin, along the coast, and up the Baranduin... conceivably...

How long would it take such wagonloads to reach the Shire and Bree from Rohan? And how long would it take the ships to reach Buckland?

And is this idea so totally outrageous that it should be buried by the light of the new moon under the shadow of trees, and the ground sprinkled with salt. (Please don't say it is so, the drama of the idea is growing on me...)

Thanks in advance for any answers to these myriad questions...
Lindelea

 

 

Re: Travel Times and Distances

How long would it take for a swift messenger to go from Bree to Rohan, then to Minas Tirith?

Well the Pony Express used to cover the nearly two thousand miles between Sacremento California and St. Josephs Missouri in eight or nine days, and we're talking wild, roadless country here. Assuming that Aragorn has repaired the Greenway post riders might take even less time in ME.

The shipping and cargo questions are harder. Personally I find it helpful to research RL equivalents when trying to figure out such things, (which is how I came to find the Pony Express figures).

I do seem to recall reading somewhere than laden oxcarts make about four miles per hour so you/Aragorn would probably be better advised to ship the grain by sea, (for cargo capacity look up same for medieval shipping). I would advise you/him however to send the ships directly from Pelagir to The Grey Havens as there's no telling what kind of navigational problems seagoing ships might meet on the Baranduin and the route overland through the Shire would be much shorter.

 

 

Re: Travel Times and Distances

Was postulating that the Rohirrim might not grow a lot of grain (OTOH, would they?),

In LotR Theoden refers to the rich farmlands of the Westfold which the armies of Saruman destroy in their march to Helm's Deep, but that doen't have to indicate that they grew a lot of grain there. You're idea of import/export is quite viable, except perhaps at the worst times during the War of the Rings (you didn't say when this is supposed to be, so I'm just postulating here) Scratch that - I just noted the reference to the King's visits to Lake Evendim (call me stupid! )

And is this idea so totally outrageous that it should be buried by the light of the new moon under the shadow of trees, and the ground sprinkled with salt. (Please don't say it is so, the drama of the idea is growing on me...)

Well, let's water it and see what grows! I'll go check the Atlas of M-e to see if there are any clues to the time/distance on your specific routes. That's the best resource I know of right now too.

~Nessime
*curious to see just what sprouts!*


 

 

Re: Travel Times and Distances

Ah, yes, I was thinking about the pony express, but they had fresh horses every 10 to 20 miles, and a fresh rider every (what? couple hundred? I forget what we read last year when we were studying it) and somehow my imagination has not built all the intermediate stations along the Road from Bree to Gondor... 100 outposts, minimum. Hmmm, somebody had better whisper it in the King's ear and have him get cracking!

Your suggestion about the Havens makes sense, and of course there would be docking facilities there for full sized ships.

With the Brandywine being so broad at Buckleberry Ferry (pardon me if i'm spelling things wrong, i am in haste this morning and have no time to double-check. aargh) I was figuring it might be navigable all the way, as rivers tend to continue broadening as they move downstream, don't they? Rapids would be more likely further upriver? I dunno. The Columbia had some nasty rapids that the pioneers encountered, even tho it seems pretty wide to me... so maybe the sea route is the safest.

OTOH, I just love the drama of great ships with white sails arriving in Buckland, anchoring in front of Brandy Hall, and people scratching their heads, trying to figure out how they're gonna unload the grain. (grin) ...and all the boats in Buckland are pressed into service... kind of like the miracle at Dunkirk. O my, i really do need to get more sleep. This almost sounds sensible...

Maybe the King is a belt-and-suspenders man and sends grain to the Havens and up the Brandywine. Or maybe the winter storms are starting and the sea route is too hazardous, so they hug the coast until they can turn into the relatively calmer waters of the Baranduin. Will have to look that up as well. I remember the Pilgrims left late and ran into winter storms, historically speaking.

Still trying to work this out in my head, sure appreciate the input. Feel such a sense of urgency... hungry hobbits and Breelanders need help!

Thanks,
Lindelea

 

 

Re: Travel Times and Distances

Well of course if you want to make the Baranduin navigable (sic?) all the way to Buckleberry that is your right - this is fanfic after all! - and it certainly is possible. And it does sound like a great scene, I can just see the Hobbits blinking in bewilderment at those great ships

IMO if Aragorn has any sense at all, (and we know he does) he will set up a system of post riders to facilitate communications between his two realms ASAP. Remember unlike the Pony Express they will have a good road under them all the way, (once it's repaired that is) so maybe they can get away with slightly longer stages between post-stations.

 

 

Re: Travel Times and Distances

Y'know, I have been re-thinking the outpost thing and it *does* make sense... after all, Prof Tolkien himself said, 'Then the Greenway will be opened again, and his messengers will come north, and there will be comings and goings, and the evil things will be driven out of the waste-lands. Indeed the waste in time will be waste no longer, and there will be people and fields where once there was wilderness.'

I don't know how much of this will have happened in the 20 years since the War... it probably took some time to repair the damage in Gondor and Rohan, and I'm sure that the Greenway was repaired in that time as well. Perhaps a few bolder souls are starting to move into the wilderness, to establish settlements.

There are messengers, and comings and goings... and I can imagine caravans of traders travelling the Road as well. That would imply that the King has a commitment to keep travellers safe from ruffians, so there must be some kind of patrols. I am thinking an outpost set about every 50 miles, with troops riding regular "rounds" north and south along the road about 25 miles, meeting halfway between outposts, riding back (a long day's journey, but do-able). If this were the case, then a message could be sent fairly swiftly, by relay, between Bree and Gondor, with a fresh horse and rider taking it on every 50 miles. This would imply something like 40 outposts, a doable number, don't you think? And perhaps new outposts would be added each year, I don't know, I have strained my brain thinking up this much and I still haven't looked up tonnage for medieval shipping.

...or it could be 50 outposts set 40 miles apart. Whatever. I'm sure there were lots of soldiers come back from the War who were not quite ready to settle down to farm or trade.

It would also be safer for the King and his party to stay at outposts while travelling from MT to the Lake, wherever there wasn't an inn (and there might not have been a terrible number of inns; I would assume, actually, that inns would spring up near outposts, and under the protection of the guardsmen there. Also a ready clientele, for guardsmen do need a place to spend their pay...

...and it sounds as if I might need to do a bit of re-writing in my chapter where Sam and Rose travel to Gondor. They can still camp out between outposts, of course, since they were not traveling 40 miles a day, but probably also spent nights at outposts along the way.

 

 

Re: Travel Times and Distances

IMO the 'wilds' will have changed almost beyond recognition a whole twenty years after the WR. Gandalf seems to expect them to fill up pretty rapidly, IMO there's already a fairly large but migratory population south of the Road, remember what Tolkien says about many more Hobbits living outside the Shire than is realized, but some being little better than tramps? The same would be true of Men. Not to mention all the Rangers coming out of hiding, Gandalf's comments to Butterbur strongly implies he expects Fornost to be quickly rebuilt and repopulated which suggest there are rather more Northern Dunedain than one might think.

In 'The Return' , which also takes place about twenty years after the WR, Aragorn has established a system of posthouses for his King's Messengers each about a days ride, (say forty or fifty miles) from the next. The companions stay at one of them, The Elfstone, that has become a regular Inn at the center of a small village midway between Brandywine Bridge and Bree.

 

 

Travel times, "The Return", and oops

"The Return"? What is that? Where can I find it, to read it?

the oops is because I looked at a map of the Baranduin this morning and realized there is a ford ('Sarn Ford') before you get to Buckland. Shallow water. How am I to get ships past that? Argh.

I am also going to have to think how the drought has been affecting the lands between Rohan and Bree... I kind of figured that the North country might have got some rain, enough for adequate harvest but not enough to supply all the drought-stricken region. The latitude that includes Bree and the Shire is where the worst of the drought is... whereas Gondor and Rohan have had bumper crops the past few years...

 

 

Re: Travel times,

'The Return' is one of my stories, and it's right here on Henneth Annun, look either under 'Boromir' for character, or 'Fourth age' or my name 'Morwen Tindomerel' as author.

 

 

Up the Baranduin...

So, what do you think, with all the new people settling in the wild country, would they make the Baranduin navigable, to allow for shipment of goods and such? Perhaps they would put a drawbridge where Sarn Ford is now, and dredge the River deep enough for ships? After all, if a medieval castle can have a drawbridge over the moat, surely the people in Middle-earth could figure out how to build a drawbridge... Wouldn't the bridges in Osgiliath have been of that type, before they were thrown down?

O wait, I seem to recall a mention of such a bridge in the Hobbit, in the chapter about Laketown and Smaug, but our Hobbit has gone missing (all three copies) and cannot look it up.

I wonder how long it took to construct such a bridge, with the construction methods available to their level of civilisation. I haven't the faintest idea how to go about finding out... perhaps I'll go to the library and pester the research librarian... I'm sure they're just waiting around for people to come up with questions... not! (hate it when the kids do that "not!" thing but it was so tempting just now)

What do you think? Is this doable? (I know I can do anything I want, but I really want my writing to sound as if it *could* happen.)

I took a glance at The Return, but you didn't tell me about the prequel and sequel, so I have put them on my list for a time when I can read at my leisure... which won't happen this day, as dh is arriving home after a business trip and we really need to whip the house back into submission before he gets in... I just cannot read a story that has a prequel unless I read the prequel first... Fascinating premise, by the way. I am growing to like Boromir more and more, the more fanfics I read about him.

Thanks,
Lindelea

 

 

Re: Up the Baranduin...

The Numenoreans were great engineers, as were their Dunedain descendants, it is very likely they would retain the techniques necessary to dredge a river for ship passage and to build a drawbridge over it. But as for how long it would take I can't tell you.

A water passsage to Aragorn's northern capital on Lake Evendim, (source of the Baranduin) would definitely be an advantage but I doubt the river could be made navigable all the way to the Lake. Buckleberry might become an important port town with the cargoes of the ships being transfered to barges to finish the journey to Annuminas.

I should warn you 'Awakening' is unfinished, and so is 'Coming Back to Life'. Must get back to them.....

 

 

Re: Up the Baranduin...

Buckleberry an important port... hmmm... wonder how that fits in with the King's edict? After all, the River crosses thru the Shire and men are not supposed to...

Can't you see the Shire becoming some sort of "forbidden ground", the ships sail by, the sailors looking curiously at the hobbits and the hobbits looking curiously at the ships, kind of like before the Wall fell between East and West, you could drive down this highway (Autobahn) from West Germany to Berlin, through East Germany, seeing the countryside but unable to stop and meet the people there... To keep the King's edict, I can see a port being set up either before Buckland or after, on neutral ground, on the east bank so that it wouldn't be in the Shire...

This is getting pretty interesting!

 

 

Re: Up the Baranduin...

Well, they would probably stop south of the Shire, as the Baranduin is crossed by a very solid stone bridge on the East-West Road.

I think you are more likely to find them going up the Gwathlo to the south, then disembarking at Tharbad (prehaps having to change from ocean going vessels to river barges at a restored Lond Daer), then overland from Tharbad to Bree, then Fornost, and across to Annuminas.

Ang

 

 

Re: Up the Baranduin...

Ang said, Well, they would probably stop south of the Shire, as the Baranduin is crossed by a very solid stone bridge on the East-West Road.

D'you know where I could find a description of the Bridge? For some reason I saw in my mind's eye a rather high wood-frame bridge on stone footings. Perhaps that impression came from someone's fanfic, where they described the fall from the Bridge as enough to kill a hobbit. Dunno.

Anyhow, the bridge I remember being described might have been high and broad enough for a barge to pass under, but you're right, a ship couldn't go under unless they unstepped the masts... don't know how likely that is. Then again, the ships described in ROTK had oars as well as sails.

I do come back to the idea that there were bridges in Osgiliath (thrown down in the War of course, but surely there must have been ship traffic between Cair Andros and the Sea before the bridges were thrown down). Of course, those might have been drawbridges like the one in Laketown.

Will have to go back and see what the Professor said about the Bridge... did he describe it or leave it to his reader's imagination?

Lindelea

 

 

Re: Up the Baranduin...

Actually the river *bounds* the Shire, Buckland is in fact outside the grant and possibly not bound by the edict.

IMO Aragorn gave the Shire to the Hobbits on the same terms he granted Druadan forest to the Wild Men, none were to enter it except by the leave of the inhabitants. Thus it was the Hobbits themselves who forbade Men to enter, though Aragorn may have reinforced their law by an edict of his own supporting it.

Actually the whole thing is very problematic, it seems most unlikely that Sam, Merry and Pippin would have supported such a law and they would certainly have been in a position to block so isolationist a measure. I can't help wondering if the Hobbit Chronicler might not have gotten things wrong somehow....

 

 

Re: Up the Baranduin...

The bridge is known either as the Brandywine Bridge and as the Bridge of Stonebows (so you can check indexes) :

"For it was in the one-thousand six hundred and first year of the Third Age that the Fallohide brothers, Marcho and Blanco, set out from Bree; and having obtained permission from the high king at Fornost (Argeleb II), they crossed the brown river Baranduin with a great following of Hobbits. They passed over the Bridge of Stonebows, that had been built in the days of power of the North Kingdom, and they took all the land beyond to dwell in, between the river and the Far Downs. All that was demanded of them was that they should keep the Great Bridge in repair, and all other bridges and roads, speed the king's messengers, and acknowledge his lordship."

Prologue, Part 1, Concerning Hobbits, FotR


This indicates to me that the bridge was large and made of stone. Given that it sits on the road that runs from Lindon to Rivendell, and then over the mountains to Thranduil's realm and Erebor, it is a major strategic bridge. I'm not sure that it would have been around for Gil-galad to use when bringing his forces to the Last Alliance, but *some* kind of bridge must have been there from very early on. Or perhaps a ferry, as found further south at Bucklebury.

A barge might be able to go under it, and I can't imagine that Dunedain engineers wouldn't have constructed the bridge to allow such a thing, but a masted ship would not be able to pass. Resisting Gandalf jokes, ahem, it makes sense that supplies for Annuminas would have been brought (at least in part) up the river in barges, though it is unclear where the barges would have been loaded, given the absence of a named port anywher near the mouth of the river.

Another thing to consider is that Sarn Ford may be too shallow for any river boat, even a shallow barge, and that all river traffic would have to be north of that point. Thus:

Goods by ocean ship to Lond Daer.
Goods by barge to Tharbad.
Unloaded.
Ported up the Greenway and then west-northwest to Sarn Ford
Loaded on a barge north of Sarn Ford
Poled up the river to Annuminas


In terms of isolation, the Road belongs to the King, and I can't see Hobbits blocking traffic and trade along it. Can you see a Dwarf turning aside and walking around the Shire rather than walking down the road that his ancestors built while on his way to/from the Blue Mountains? Not me. But Big People would be prevented from settling in the rich, peaceful and well-tended Shire. Trade along the Road and in designated trading towns is one thing and what I would expect the Travelers to approve, but humans generally wandering about, no. The experience of Sharkey and his ruffians would not incline Hobbits to accepting a general Big Person presence.

Hope this helps!

Ang

 

 

Re: Up the Baranduin...

Very helpful, thanks, Ang. However, I am thinking of being a bit high-handed (imaginitive?) and having the King's engineers build a draw bridge at Sarn Ford and dredge the River to allow boat traffic... perhaps he has a vision of barges going upriver from some point (have to look up the name of the ruins by the Ford, if they are named, it would be a logical place for a new city to spring up)

Just cannot get the idea out of my head of the white-sailed ships anchoring off Brandy Hall... since the River is so wide they'd have no trouble turning around again...

I do not get the impression that Men were allowed passage through the Shire, because the King's edict stated that men were not to "enter" the Shire, sounds pretty clear to me. I don't think there was any other restriction, on elves and dwarves, say, travelling through. What business would men have, anyhow, going to the Havens? Or were there other settlements of men on the far side of the Shire? I had the impression that they were to the North and East but will have to double check.

Anyhow, thanks again! This is coming clearer, which is very important, as shipments of food are due to arrive at the Shire some time soon (about the same time as their supplies are running out, what fortuitous timing!)

Lin

 

 

Re: Up the Baranduin...

In my Fanon there is a large Dunedain port under the Tower Hills accessible by the road. Even without it the Grey Havens were also used by ships of the Dunedain and with the renewed contact between the North and South Kingdom its kind of hard to see that traffic not resuming. Now it's possible Aragorn built a new road skirting the norther borders of the Shire direct from the Havens to Annuminas but still allowing no Human traffic on the road through the Shire would be darned inconvenient and really quite unreasonable on the part of the Hobbits. I am inclined to agree with Ang's exception in favor of the King's Highway. The Hobbit chronicler probably got things a bit wrong or was oversimplifying a complex situation.

Aragorn's meeting with his Hobbit friends and subjects at the Bridge rather than entering the Shire might have been out of respect for Hobbit sensitivities or a desire to relieve them of the trouble and expense of entertaining a royal retinue made up of people much larger than themselves.

 

 

Re: Up the Baranduin...

Well, I dunno about that, will have to do a bit more atlas-gazing before rendering an opinion... but I do know that before the Quest there's no mention of Men travelling through the Shire, only fair folk and dwarves (until Lotho took over and the ruffians showed up). So it makes sense to me that there's no reason for Men to travel through the Shire, or at least there hasn't been. There's a road from Bree up to Fornost, and could be a road from Fornost up to the coast, I suppose. I have invented another trail that runs along the east side of the Baranduin from the Road just outside of Buckland, all the way to the King's summer dwelling at Lake Evendim, just because I wanted one!

In any event, I think that the King's had a drawbridge put in (perhaps it was under construction when Sam and Rosie travelled to Gondor and they just happened not to mention it in their letters home... LOL)and the River dredged where Sarn Ford used to be, perhaps with plans to send goods on barges upriver to Fornost and Lake Evendim, I dunno, but I really want those white-sailed ships to arrive in Buckland, you see...

 

 

Distance between The Angle and Rivendell

Would anyone be able to give me even a very rough idea of the distance/travel time between The Angle and Rivendell? Riding hard would two days and two nights be enough or too much?

Thanks,

Avon

 

 

Re: Distance between The Angle and Rivendell

Would anyone be able to give me even a very rough idea of the distance/travel time between The Angle and Rivendell? Riding hard would two days and two nights be enough or too much?
Using the Atlas of Middle-earth and a ruler, approximately 125 miles. You'd have to check with the horse experts, but I've read 50-60 miles for hard sustained rides, but not absolute ruin-the-horse speed.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Distance between The Angle and Rivendell

Brilliant. Thanks a lot - that's even just what I wanted.

Avon

 

 

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