Orfalch Echor

From Tolkien Gateway
The First Gate by Alarie

The Orfalch Echor was the great ravine through the Dry River of the Encircling Mountains by which Gondolin was approached.


The Orfalch Echor was the route that Elemmakil led Tuor and Voronwë through to meet Ecthelion of the Fountain. 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]

During Húrin's wanderings, he came upon the Orfalch Echor, only to find the old Way of Escape buried underneath "a great fall of stones beneath a sheer rock-wall".[3]


The name Orfalch Echor is suggested by Paul Strack to be a combination of Noldorin or ("above"), falch ("cleft"), and echor ("outer circle"), perhaps meaning "High Cleft of the Outer Circle".[4]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit]

In The Book of Lost Tales, the Way of Escape was the main entrance to Gondolin, and it was not a natural ravine, but was instead built by the Gondothlim to be used by those Noldoli who escaped from Melko[5]:163 and as a way of escape in case the city was attacked, as it eventually was. Because of Meglin's treason, Melko was aware of this pass, so many survivors were killed there by a monster while trying to escape quickly in spite of Idril's warnings.[5]:189

This way is also known as Bad Uthwen in Gnomish and Uswevandë in Qenya.[5]:336