Welcome back to everyone’s favorite www.isleyunruh.com Monday feature! Middle-earth being the place of enchantment and wonder that it is, each month I will use my love of fictional cartography to transport you to another time and place. So why not take a moment to fill your head full of knowledge that will have no bearing at all on the real world?
This month I discuss the only crossing of the Entwash in all of Rohan.
The Lord of Morgul therefore led his companions over Anduin, unclad and unmounted, and invisible to eyes, and yet a terror to all living things that they passed near. It was, maybe, on the first day of July that they went forth. They passed slowly and in stealth, through Anórien, and over the Entwade, and so into the Wold, and rumour of darkness and a dread of men knew not what went before them. They reached the westshores of Anduin a little north of Sarn Gebir, as they had trysted; and there received horses and raiment that were secretly ferried over the River. This was (it is thought) about the seventeenth of July. Then they passed northward seeking for the Shire, the land of the Halflings.
Of the mighty rivers of Middle-earth, the sheer volume of water carried by the Entwash is often forgotten. It supplied the vast Wetwang with enough water to both make a 2500 square mile area of land into an impassible swamp as well as almost double the size of the already mighty Anduin.
So wide was the Entwash as it flowed out of Fangorn for some 300 miles through Rohan (splitting the realm into the West Emnet and the East Emnet), that there was only one shallows, about midway through The Mark (some 50 miles northeast of Edoras) where the river flowed wide enough to allow a fording (and even that was treacherous at all but the driest times of the year). This natural choke point afforded Rohan an excellent fall back means of defense should any invaders venture that far in to their realm, for the only other option was to venture far to the north where another set of shallows lay about Fangorn forest, or to attempt to brave a crossing of the Nindalf.
In fact, the clearest indication that the Entwade was the only crossing north of the mouths of the Entwash was the fact that the Nazgul had crossed the Entwash via the Entwade on their way north to seek the hobbits. Considering their journey north began on the west side of the Anduin after taking Osgiliath, the fact that they had to travel all the way to the Entwade was a detour of some 250 miles. A detour made on foot, which, even for the tireless Nazgul slowed them down quite considerably.
Just imagine how much precious time was lost as they searched for hobbits in the Anduin Vales before returning south to seek the Shire on the other side of the Misty Mountains! It could have led to a very different the outcome for Frodo and his companions had there been a lower crossing of the Entwash!