I write honest fantasy. Honest fantasy is about real people in fantasy worlds who are relatable, who in their alien place can reveal to us truths about our own place. I use magic, fantastical creatures and imagined worlds to explore subjects close to home.
These fantasy worlds are based on our own familiar Earth. There’s horses and cake, swords and palaces. Sometimes I need to do some research into history, physics, engineering or biology in order to anchor my fiction in facts. This blog series is a peak into the varied and fascinating research which enhances my work. Some might call it procrastination, I call it fantasy facts.
A human can cover about 20 miles (32 km) per day if they’re walking. That’s an average speed of 2 miles per hour over ten hours. It would depend on the terrain and the roads, and whether you need to hunt for food along the way. I think 12 miles per day (19km) would be reasonable if you were hiding from the King’s Watch, taking it in turns to sleep, gathering food and avoiding habitation whilst travelling. That is if you needed to maintain that pace over a number of days. If you were in a hurry, a fast walk would carry you further than running. An average of 3 mph over 14 hours would take you 42 miles (68 km) but you’d be pretty tired the next day, even if you were reasonably fit.
If you had a horse, you could travel up to 100 miles (160 km) in a day, if was a fit horse and had plenty of rest afterward. Most horses can gallop at 30 mph (48 kph) but only for about 2 miles (3 km). A horse walking at a steady pace could cover 30 miles (48 km) in a day, consistently over a number of days.
If you had a horse and cart, that would be slower than riding. It would depend on the road conditions, the weather and the load in the cart or carriage. Fast mail coaches which changed teams of horses every ten miles (16 km), could cover over 100 miles (160km) in a day. Whereas, a heavily laden cart on a muddy road in the mountains might travel no more than 4 miles (6.4 km) in a day.
Of course, if you were an elf riding a sleipnir or a dwarf on a chariot pulled by a pack of fenrir, you would have to adjust these calculations somewhat.