After the fall of Sauron, Isildur, the son and heir of Elendil, returned to Gondor. There he assumed the Elendilmir (the Star of Elendil; there were in fact not one but two gems of this name) as King of Arnor, and proclaimed his sovereign lordship over all the Dúnedain in the North and in the South; for he was a man of great pride and vigor. He remained for a year in Gondor, restoring its order and defining its bounds (as is related in the Tale of Cirion and Eorl, drawing on older histories, now mostly lost, for its account of the events that led to the Oath of Eorl and the alliance of Gondor with the Rohirrim); but the greater part of the army of Arnor returned to Eriador by the Númenórean road from the Fords of Isen to Fornost.
In the second year of the Third Age, Isildur planted a seedling of the White Tree in Minas Anor and delivered the South-kingdom to Meneldil.
When he at last felt free to return to his own realm, he was in haste and he wished to go first to Imladris; for he had left his wife and youngest son there, and he had moreover an urgent need for the counsel of Elrond. Isildur’s youngest son was Valandil, third King of Arnor. Isildur therefore determined to make his way north from Osgiliath up the Vales of Anduin to Cirith Forn en Andrath, the high-climbing pass of the North, that led down to Imladris. This pass is named only here by an Elvish name. At Rivendell, long after, Gimli the Dwarf referred to it as the High Pass. It was in this pass that Thorin Oakenshield and his company were captured by Orcs. Isildur knew the land well, for he had journeyed there often before the War of the Alliance, and had marched that way to the war with men of eastern Arnor in the company of Elrond.
It was a long journey, but the only other way, west and then north to the road-meeting in Arnor, and then east to Imladris, was far longer. Three hundred leagues and more than the route which Isildur intended to take, and for the most part without made roads; in those days the only Númenórean roads were the great road linking Gondor and Arnor, through Calenardhon, then north over the Gwathló at Tharbad, and so at last to Fornost; and the East-West Road from the Grey Havens to Imladris. These roads crossed at a point [Bree] west of Amon Sûl (Weathertop), by Númenórean road-measurements three hundred and ninety-two leagues from Osgiliath, and then east to Imladris one hundred and sixteen: five hundred and eight leagues in all. As swift, maybe, for mounted men, but he had no horses fit for riding; and safer, maybe, in former days, but Sauron was vanquished, and the people of Vales had been his allies in victory. He had no fear, save for weather and weariness, but these men whom need sends far abroad in Middle-earth must endure. Continue reading