Bilbo was like a tourist, travelling far through Middle-earth to Rivendell, the Woodland Realm, Esgaroth, Dale, the Erebor and back. But given his wanderlust and his friendship with the elves, why didn't he ever consider visiting the Grey Havens and the Tower Hills which are bordering the Shire and are much closer to Hobbiton than e.g. Rivendell? Furthermore, you can see the Undying Lands from the palantir in the Elostirion. Wasn't Bilbo curious to take a look at Aman? Or didn't Bilbo know that you can see Aman from the Elostirion? Or did the Kings of Arnor, and eventually Cirdán, forbid many to enter the tower?

When arriving at the Grey Havens to sail west, Bilbo said Here is a sight I have never seen before. So Bilbo never visited the Grey Havens before, nor did he look at them and at the sea from the Elostirion, nor has he ever seen such beauty. Given his friendship with the elves I don't think we can say that Bilbo would have had absolutely no idea about what the Grey Havens are like. Why did Bilbo never visit Mithlond before T.A. 3021?

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    No he wasn't. He went on one journey, supported by thirteen dwarves and an occasional wizard. He never went anywhere else until his 111th birthday, when he went to Rivendell again.
    – OrangeDog
    Apr 24 at 12:38
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    Because traveling just to travel/see things was not something people in Middle-Earth generally did. Hobbits even less so, even if Bilbo was an exception to a degree (and even he did not travel for the sake of travel). Apr 24 at 13:18
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    @suchiuomizu Bilbo said "I want to see mountains again" (in Westron, I don't know if that's how it's translated into English). Even if he travels merely because of his friendship with Dwarves and the Men of Dale, he could have visited his friend Dwalin in the Ered Luin. From there (Thorin's Hall) he could have taken another way to the even much closer Mithlond: the dwarven road through Noglond, Gondamon and the Rath Teraig. Whatever, it seems a bit ironic that Bilbo wasn't curious about seeing Aman and Mithlond which eventually was the most beautiful sight to him, and so close to the Shire.
    – Wingfoot
    Apr 24 at 14:08
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    " Here is a sight I have never seen before" is a film quote, so the answer is "because Peter Jackson". I don't think there is any indication in the books as to whether Bilbo visited Mithlond before his final journey. Also note that, even if Bilbo knew about the Palantir in Elostirion, the elves guarding the tower would not allow him to use it because he had no hereditary right (see note 16 to The Palantiri in the Unfinished Tales). Finally, note that the stone can view Tol Eressea, not Aman. Apr 26 at 16:14
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    – Null
    Apr 27 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


This is an interesting question, but I think it is based on some false assumptions.

First, where does Bilbo say "Here is a sight I have never seen before."? I don't see it in LotR. (Frodo sees the sea in Galadriel's Mirror, and the narration says it was something he had never seen before.) As far as I can tell there's no evidence either way in LotR that Bilbo had traveled westwards from the Shire before.

Second, there is no evidence that Bilbo knew that there was a Palantir in the elf-towers west of the Shire. It looks like knowledge that the Palantir still existed was forgotten by all but lore-masters and some in Gondor, and even they had no idea where they were kept. (There were stories about the Seeing-stones of Numenor, but they were legends and bits of doggerel to most.)

Three Elf-towers of immemorial age were still to be seen on the Tower Hills beyond the western marches. They shone far off in the moonlight. The tallest was furthest away, standing alone upon a green mound. The Hobbits of the Westfarthing said that one could see the Sea from the lop of that tower; but no Hobbit had ever been known to climb it. Indeed, few Hobbits had ever seen or sailed upon the Sea, and fewer still had ever returned to report it. Most Hobbits regarded even rivers and small boats with deep misgivings, and not many of them could swim. And as the days of the Shire lengthened they spoke less and less with the Elves, and grew afraid of them, and distrustful of those that had dealings with them; and the Sea became a word of fear among them, and a token of death, and they turned their faces away from the hills in the west.

The Hobbits, at least, had no idea about the Palantirs. Their legends said that one could see the sea from the tops, but no Hobbit ever went to look.

Note that this makes it fairly likely that if Bilbo's wanderings took him outside the Shire, it may well have been westwards.

I want to see mountains again, Gandalf, mountains, and then find somewhere where I can rest.

So we can be sure he didn't travel far to the East. (Doubtless, if he travelled outside the Shire at all, he went to Bree, but no further east.) There was nothing in the North or to the south of the Shire -- both were barren -- while to the West were Dwarf mines (and he was friends with the Dwarves) and Elves still lived (likewise). Finally, the Great East Road (unlike the Greenway) was still in use both east and west of the Shire, and would be a natural director to travel.

We have reason to believe that Bilbo wandered -- or, at least, his Hobbit friends did:

Frodo went tramping all over the Shire with them; but more often he wandered by himself, and to the amazement of sensible folk he was sometimes seen far from home walking in the hills and woods under the starlight. Merry and Pippin suspected that he visited the Elves at times, as Bilbo had done.

(Note that the nearest Elven settlements were to the west in Ered Luin.)

Bottom line: It is plausible that Bilbo went west out of the Shire even as far as the Elven haven, but not definite.

  • Whoa, "nothing north of the Shire"? North of the Shire is Evendim, with Annúminas the capital city of Arnor, and the Nen Uial. North of Evendim is Forochel home of the Lossoth.
    – Wingfoot
    Apr 24 at 15:23
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    @Wingfoot all of which had been abandoned for over 1000 years.
    – OrangeDog
    Apr 24 at 16:49
  • @OrangeDog The Dunedain rangers still kept their watchful eye over the ancient Arnor, and the Lossoth still live in Forochel.
    – Wingfoot
    Apr 24 at 16:51

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