Today our hobbits are being eaten alive! But relax, it’s only by bugs as they trudge through the northern end of Midgewater Marsh.
Thoughts on the Passage – Book I, Chapter 11 (p182-3, 50th Anniv. Ed.)
“Midgewater! There are more Midges than water!” We’re told that “they spent a miserable day in this lonely and unpleasant country.” And while we can all imagine a marsh with bugs drinking your blood – “What do they live on when they can’t get hobbit?” – it’s sometimes hard to picture exactly where our heroes are tramping.
Most editions of Lord of the Rings come with maps. The paperback versions leave much to be desired, which is why I sought out the one volume hardback edition with the big foldout maps. You’ll recognize it below:
This is the general area where our hobbits are traveling, Strider as their guide. Midgewater looks like a spire from a Russian Orthodox church. It’s not incredibly detailed, but it’s the map that Tolkien and his son worked long and hard upon, and for the longest time, it’s the only map that was available.
These days, there’s another choice – Atlas of Middle-earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad. Not only does it cover Lord of the Rings, but it contains maps for the entire legendarium. It’s ridiculously complete and meticulously researched. In fact, it’s Fonstad’s work on mileage that I use for this blog. Here’s a map of the same area:
But if, for Frodo’s path, this is still not enough, you could do worse than tracking down a fairly out of print book titled Journeys of Frodo by Barbara Strachey. This is, by far, the most complete and detailed of the maps. The book contains 50 or so contour maps showing the path of Frodo explicitly. See?
Each map contains the campsites, eating places, and various other stops that Frodo used on his journey to Mordor.
There are, of course, differences between the two maps, but that’s just how it goes. I’m sure you’ll pick your favorites, so I highly suggest you get both. Since Strachey’s Journeys of Frodo is out of print, you’ll have to make do with a used copy, but they’re easy enough to find online.
Since all are copyrighted, I really can’t use them except in reviews (such as this), so having them with you while you read my blog could be incredibly helpful. I peruse them often while I write.
About the Photo
I don’t exactly have a lot of marshy photos as I mostly shoot in the desert (did you know that Washington had one of those? – technically, it’s shrub-steppe). But maybe this could be Midgewater Marsh if the cows took over. (And yes, it really bugged me that the blade of grass was in front of the cow’s face. I was really upset about it after I developed the film and saw the disaster.)
- Miles today: 5
- Miles thus far: 175
- 39 miles to Weathertop
- 285 miles to Rivendell
- 1,604 miles to Mt. Doom
Today’s stopping place: In the middle of Midgewater Marsh! (map)