Although this question has already asked about the different times for traveling to Rivendell from the Shire, it did not address the duration of the return journey from Rivendell to the Shire that occurred near the end of The Return of the King.

Chapter VII of Book VI specified Gandalf, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin crossed the Ford of Bruinen on "the sixth of October"; and the following chapter indicated the hobbits were in the Shire by "the first of November." Therefore, it presumably took approximately twenty-six days to travel from Rivendell to the Shire. However, this is less time than it took to travel in the opposite direction from the Shire to Rivendell.

Since Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin walked to Rivendell in The Fellowship of the Ring but rode back to the Shire in The Return of the King, one might expect that their return trip would take less time; nevertheless, the time it took for them to return appears somewhat incongruous because in The Hobbit Gandalf, the dwarves, and Bilbo took about thirty-eight days to ride to Rivendell. Moreover, during the return journey, Gandalf told Mr. Butterbur, "We have been taking things easy," so it does not seem as if they were just riding faster when traveling back to the Shire than they were riding in The Hobbit.

Therefore, why did it take less time to travel from Rivendell to the Shire than to travel from the Shire to Rivendell?

  • When you go towards Rievndell, you are going into the wind. When you are traveling away, the wind is at your backs. – Jack B Nimble Dec 23 '17 at 2:51
  • The Shire is west of rivendell, but slightly south. As Treebeard says, going south is like going downhill. – Paul Dec 23 '17 at 3:03
  • Not sure where your 38 days comes from for Bilbo's journey from Hobbiton to Rivendell. There is conflicting evidence in The Hobbit about the departure date (very late April vs. early May) and all we know about the arrival in Rivendell is that it was in June. So the trip may have only taken 30 days. Still, I agree that there seems to be a small discrepancy in the travel times. – Blackwood Dec 23 '17 at 3:43

During the trip from Bree to Rivendell with Aragorn, they were on foot and staying off the Road to elude the Black Riders. On the way back to the Shire they could ride openly on the Road with Gandalf, and therefore were able to travel faster.

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