Travelling on the Kingsroad

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The kingsroad is Westeros’ largest and most extensive road system, beginning in the stormlands at Storm’s End and ending at Castle Black in the North. But it’s also notorious for its many perils—bad terrain, abandoned stretches, bands of brigands. Travelling from one holdfast to another can take months, and it’s important to be well-prepared. Some of the worst stretches of the kingsroad are in the North, and some paths are too dangerous for carts and caravans. A healthy mule or a horse to ride would be helpful in such terrain.

If you’re travelling on foot, carry with you only what is essential. Too much luggage can eventually prove to be cumbersome. Travellers in Westeros have found it wisest to travel in groups—it slightly increases protection and decreases boredom.

dsc03325Concerning food and drink, carry dried meat and wine. Water can be contaminated and lead to a lot of trouble; wine is a little safer. Do not attempt to drink from unknown waters. Always check whether a river or a stream is frequented by other animals; or easier, see if your horse will drink from it—this will tell you whether it is safe for you as well.

The stretches between King’s Landing and the Neck are populated by small villages and holdfasts, and a traveller can find several safe and suitable inns along the way to spend a night. If your purse is heavy enough, a fistful of coppers will get you a hot meal; another fistful will get you a straw mattress to sleep on.

honeyed-chicken-beforeMost good inns serve meat of some kind—duck, chicken, even pork for those who can pay for it—whatever the day’s hunt provides for. In the North, a richer traveller might be able to afford a meal of fresh-baked oat bread, cheese, stuffed capons, beef-and-barley stew, and perhaps fresh fruit and pastry. A poorer traveller could get a bowl of turnip-and-onion stew and stale bread. Inns also serve mead, beer and ale. Don’t spend more than you have to—money is important for a journey of any kind, and a few groats can mean much on a cold night, or for a starving stomach.

Pack comfortable and durable clothing—a cloak to keep you warm, and good boots for walking. Some innkeepers will help travellers get supplies of this sort, so carrying heavy extras and spares is not necessary.

Not every traveller can afford to spend their nights under a roof in the comfort of an inn. In the lesser inhabited regions of Westeros there won’t be an inn to sleep in, no matter what you can afford. Preparing oneself for sleeping outdoors, or “under the stars”, is essential. Keep your belongings close, and if you are skilled enough in the use of a knife or dagger, arm yourself with one. A fire will also help you keep warm—acquire instruments to start a fire, like a tinderbox or a fire striker. While collecting boughs for a fire, don’t use green or wet wood. This will only result in a fire with smaller flames and little heat, and a lot of smoke. Use smaller branches and boughs as well—they will burn more easily, and are more practical than large branches.

A map can be hard to get by, so prepare yourself with some knowledge of the night sky. Asking for directions is also advised, but make sure to ask reliable locals. Safe walking, traveller.

Note: Images of food from The Inn at the Crossroads.

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