Did the Rangers make the paths in the Old Forest?
#1
Or at least some of them.  It seems like the Old Forest would have been a handy place for them to camp during their Watch on the Shire, being on its eastern border.
"Never ask an Elf for advice, for he will say both 'Yes' and 'No'." - Frodo Baggins to Gildor Inglorion
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#2
Why not just overnight wherever the Dwarves and Elves that come and go through the Shire do?

The Old Forest is a bad place to base a Watch: First, it is quite shut away from normal traffic, which is where a watch might be useful. If one wanted to watch the roads or inns, it would be some hours march from camp and hours to camp with every shift change. The relevance of watching the roads is proven by Bill Ferny's Southerner friend, and by

Second, the exits to the Old Forest are the one place in all Hobbit land where anything suspicious or out of the ordinary would promptly trigger an alarm. The defining characteristic of the Rangers' Watch is that it is secret - and basing themselves out of the Old Forest would invite scrutiny, for little gain.
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#3
I think Bombadil made the paths through the Old Forest.

While the Rangers might have gone there from time to time I don't think they would have stayed there. The trees were dangerous and Bombadil kept a watch over the country. Despite the trees' attack on the Buckland I doubt many evil things would have lasted long there.
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#4
(December 3rd, 2019, 09:46 PM)Michael Wrote: I think Bombadil made the paths through the Old Forest.

While the Rangers might have gone there from time to time I don't think they would have stayed there. The trees were dangerous and Bombadil kept a watch over the country. Despite the trees' attack on the Buckland I doubt many evil things would have lasted long there.
Are you saying that (despite the name) 'Old Man Willow' wasn't there very long?  Or that he wasn't evil?  Or just unique (since you did stipulate 'many')?

I didn't mean to suggest that the Rangers 'lived' (as in, with houses and women and children) in the Old Forest, only that they camped there while on patrol on the borders of the Shire.  Like the camping spot at the foot of Weathertop that Aragorn led the hobbits to.
"Never ask an Elf for advice, for he will say both 'Yes' and 'No'." - Frodo Baggins to Gildor Inglorion
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#5
As for Old Man Willow, I'm not sure he was "evil" in the sense that a wight or a Nazgul would be. Both of the latter served Sauron. I think Old Man Willow's darkness was more random.

But I don't see why the Rangers would have camped in the Old Forest. Maybe they would have. At the time of the War of the Ring - when they were watching the Shire more carefully at Gandalf's request - I don't think they had a reason to be there.

In any event, according to "The Hunt for the Ring" (a bit of retconning by Tolkien), many of the Rangers who had been guarding Sarn Ford were killed or driven off by the Nazgul. Aragorn appears to have been watching the Great Road by himself, so I don't think there were any Rangers in the vicinity of the Old Forest at the time. They would have been stationed along the roads, bridges, fords, etc.
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