Tolkien Gateway

Orfalch Echor

The First Gate by Alarie

The Orfalch Echor was the ravine of the Dry River in the Encircling Mountains, the route by which the hidden city of Gondolin was approached. At its lower end was the First Gate, the Gate of Wood. The Orfalch continued through the remainder of the Seven Gates of Gondolin, reaching the Seventh Gate, the Gate of Steel. At the upper end was a high sward that offered a view of Tumladen and the city in its center.[1][2]


The name Orfalch Echor is suggested by Paul Stack to be a combination of Noldorin or ("above"), falch ("cleft"), and echor ("outer circle"), perhaps meaning "High Cleft of the Outer Circle".[3]

Other versions of the legendarium

In The Book of Lost Tales, the Way of Escape was the main entrance to Gondolin, and it wasn't a natural ravine, but it was built by the Gondothlim to be used by those Noldoli who escaped from Melko[4]:163 and as a way of escape in case the city was attacked, as eventually. Because of Meglin's treason, Melko was aware of this pass, so many survivors were killed there by a monster while trying to escape more quickly in spite of Idril's persuasions.[4]:189

This way is also known as Bad Uthwen in Gnomish and Uswevandë in Qenya.[4]:336


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin"
  3. Paul Strack, "S. Orfalch Echor loc.", Eldamo - An Elvish Lexicon (accessed 16 March 2019)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "III. The Fall of Gondolin"