Rangers of the North
average depth: 2 feet, 6 inches
deepest: Gwirith 4 feet
most shallow: úrui 1 foot’
The Athrad Sarn is a reliable ford on the Baranduin south of the Shire. The King of Arthedain kept garrisons here and maintained the ford, keeping an eye on affairs in Cardolan from this vantage point. In the Late Third Age it is a semi-permanent base of the Rangers of the North, a waystation guarding The Shire from threats from the south. It is through this route Khamûl the Easterling will ride into The Shire in 3018, routing the Rangers.
Where the Baranduin River leaves the sagging edge of the Eriadorian upland for the last time, it spreads its waters across a broad shelf of crumbling limestone. Whenever the rains upriver haven’t been too severe, anyone with grip-soled shoes and some nerve can wade the mighty stream. This is Iach Sarn, colloquially known as “Sarn Ford”. The Redway, the old royal road, crosses the Baranduin at the ford on its way from Tharbad to the Blue Mountains and Lindon.
The river here is wide and brown, its banks lined with willow, poplar, and birch. A few hundred feet north of the ford, a squat granite fortress sits on a low hill overlooking the red-paved road. Green-clad Dúnadan Rangers stalk the banks, though no pennant flies overhead. Around the base of the hill lie a scattering of cottages and a small village, and in the distance small farmsteads and groves of hardwoods show among knobs of grass-covered limestone. On the south bank of the river, just downstream from the main road, the ruins of a larger village — its buildings and crude earth-and-stone walls half-abandoned and crumbling — rest on an obviously artificial mound. Steps lead down an embankment of ancient rubble to riverside docks once lined with unpainted ferry boats and fishing smacks.
The fortress is largely abandoned, and – surprisingly – not fully explored. The Rangers prefer a shanty-town of semi-permanent tents at its base than the dark, cold halls of the Hall itself.