In The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies, after

the Elves, Dwarves and Men are victorious

Gandalf and Bilbo wander back to the Shire across green grass and pretty forests. However, I seem to remember the route there involving huge spiders, cold mountains and scary forests. What is the reason for this? Did Thorin just fancy a challenge, or did Google Maps: Middle Earth just need updating?

I guess my question is; was the route back the same as the route there?

  • 2
    The end scene was them at the very border of the shire. It's not a good indicator of the path they took back. Beyond that, I have no other answers Dec 22, 2014 at 22:12
  • 12
    In the book, the way there took about five months; it would have taken three or four if they hadn't been captured by the Wood-elves. The way back took six or seven months, and they had to go a couple hundred miles out of their way to the north of Mirkwood. On the way out, Thorin was taking the shortest path. Dec 22, 2014 at 22:21
  • 1
    Someone else can add the actual answer; it's time for me to go home :-) Dec 22, 2014 at 22:21
  • 4
    The Eagles, man... the Eagles.
    – Omegacron
    Dec 22, 2014 at 22:28
  • 1
    I haven't seen the movie yet, but the spoiler... couldn't have guessed... (I feel I need to add "I tried to be ironic" since I cannot convey my tone on the web)
    – bolov
    Dec 23, 2014 at 17:16

2 Answers 2


The reason for their route to the Mountain is given in the book, in the chapter Queer Lodgings, while discussing the route through Mirkwood:

"Do we really have to go through?" groaned the hobbit.

"Yes, you do!" said the wizard, "if you want to get to the other side. You must either go through or give up your quest. And I am not going to allow you to back out now, Mr. Baggins. I am ashamed of you for thinking of it. You have got to look after all these dwarves for me," he laughed. "No! no!" said Bilbo. "I didn't mean that. I meant, is there no way round?"

"There is, if you care to go two hundred miles or so out of your way north, and twice that south. But you wouldn't get a safe path even then. There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go. Before you could get round Mirkwood in the North you would be right among the slopes of the Grey Mountains, and they are simply stiff with goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs of the worst description. Before you could get round it in the South, you would get into the land of the Necromancer; and even you, Bilbo, won't need me to tell you tales of that black sorcerer. I don't advise you to go anywhere near the places overlooked by his dark tower! Stick to the forest-track, keep your spirits up, hope for the best, and with a tremendous slice of luck you may come out one day and see the Long Marshes lying below you, and beyond them, high in the East, the Lonely Mountain where dear old Smaug lives, though I hope he is not expecting you."

Nothing dumb about that way; it was deliberately chosen to avoid even worse trouble.

As for the way back, not only had the Dragon been defeated, but so had the Orc army, and the Necromancer had also been driven from his lair. That's got to count for something in terms of making the journey easier. Moreover, Bilbo had company - powerful company. Despite that he did have further adventures (and trouble) on the way back, which are simply unrecorded:

He had many hardships and adventures before he got back. The Wild was still the Wild, and there were many other things in it in those days besides goblins; but he was well guided and well guarded - the wizard was with him, and Beorn for much of the way - and he was never in great danger again.

(The Return Journey)

  • 32
    Do you mean that Peter Jackson could have filmed yet another movie?
    – SJuan76
    Dec 22, 2014 at 22:47
  • 16
    @SJuan76 - sssshhh - don't give him ideas!
    – user8719
    Dec 22, 2014 at 22:50
  • It'll all be in the extended edition. And, of course, in Plato <end Narnia joke> Dec 23, 2014 at 2:00
  • 4
    The Hobbit IV: The Voyage Home. Wait, I'm being told that subtitle is already being used for the fourth movie in a series...
    – corsiKa
    Dec 23, 2014 at 16:19
  • 3
    @SJuan76 - Yes! I will always find a way to pony up a mere $10 to see a film set in Middle Earth with fantastic special effects & great acting.
    – RobertF
    Dec 23, 2014 at 16:53

At the end of the book, this is made clearer. They returned going around Mirkwood to the north. This was not an option on the way to Erebor, because it was so much farther and they had to get there by Durin's Day, and also because the northern mountains were full of goblins. After the battle of the five armies, the northern mountains were much clearer. The book says that the return was not without incident, but that the incidents weren't that interesting in the context of the rest of the adventure.

  • 6
    +1: "Then they halted, for the wizard and Bilbo would not enter the wood, even though the king bade them stay a while in his halls. They intended to go along the edge of the forest, and round its northern end in the waste that lay between it and the beginning of the Grey Mountains. It was a long and cheerless road, but now that the goblins were crushed, it seemed safer to them than the dreadful pathways under the trees. Moreover Beorn was going that way too."
    – user8719
    Dec 22, 2014 at 22:35

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