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I'm confused: after climbing the wall, where is Jon Snow's party going?

They talk about 'when they attack Castle Black', but Castle Black is right against the Wall on south side... yet they are clearly traveling some distance through ever greener country.

If they already made it past the wall without incident, why are they even thinking of going back to Castle Black? And (more importantly), where are they headed first?

They seem to be 'on their way' to Castle Black, but they're obviously moving south.

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    If you want book related answers you can also tag it [a-song-of-ice-and-fire] – Edlothiad Jul 23 '17 at 19:11
  • I'm sorry, I'm not sure what you mean. – Gina Paiano Jul 23 '17 at 19:48
  • As of now your tag suggests answers from the show canon only. If you want answers from the book canon you need to include the tag [a-song-of-ice-and-fire] – Edlothiad Jul 23 '17 at 19:50
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    But it's the show I'm asking about. – Gina Paiano Jul 23 '17 at 20:00
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    Hi Gina, welcome to the site. Don't worry about people editing your question, it's not a criticism, everyone makes minor errors and this site is a bit perfectionistic about such things. We're not a forum, we try to be the definitive detailed answer so that in future if someone thinking the same as you googles the same question they'll find a great answer. Don't be surprised if it takes a day or two to get an answer but when they come they'll usually be really thorough. If you want some quick chat you might prefer the GoT forums, there are lots of them and they're mostly pretty good – user568458 Jul 23 '17 at 20:06
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They are going to Castle Black, but it's slightly round-about because they are part of a two-pronged attack and have to circle around behind.

From the map below you can see that they climbed the wall roughly between Greyguard and Stonedoor. Once over the wall, they'll need to move away from it for two reasons.

  1. To avoid any Night's Watch traveling between The Shadow Tower and Castle Black.
  2. Because they need to live off the land as they wait for the signal to attack.

Indeed, the attack on Castle Black comes a full 13 episodes later, no mean amount of time in-universe. So the wildings travel south to a slightly more habitable climate to wait for the attack.

I think the amount of green they see is more a byproduct of the magic in The Wall than an indication of how far they traveled. The Gift is only 50 leagues (roughly two days walk) from Wall to border, so they couldn't have gone that far, even if they had traveled to the very edge. We know that they appeared in Moletown, so odds are they spent most of the journey within 5-10 leagues of the wall.

enter image description here
From the Beyond the Wall map in Lands of Ice and Fire

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    That's a good point about living off the land, and of course in the show we see that their "living off the land" includes raiding some farms and homesteads, so they need to go far enough south to reach these – user568458 Jul 23 '17 at 21:49
  • Thank you! !! This makes complete sense. I was really confused! Thanks again. – Gina Paiano Jul 23 '17 at 22:07
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    @GinaPaiano - Excellent! If you feel it answers your question satisfactorily, feel free to click that checkmark next to the answer and give it an upvote. – amflare Jul 23 '17 at 22:52

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