Traveling to Winterhold | Elder Knowledge

This section of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim guide provides a walkthrough for traveling to Winterhold, the local Mages Guild, which is a mandatory quest in Elder Knowledge. However, you can visit Winterhold on your own initiative. Once at the Mages Guild headquarters, you will need to speak with several NPCs.

New primary objective: Learn the location of the Elder Scroll

New optional objective: Speak with Esbern

New optional objective: Speak with Arngeir

As per the game’s information, asking around for people who can provide information on the Elder Scrolls is optional. You can skip this step if you’re in a hurry, especially since you won’t receive any rewards for completing it. Instead, you should consider speaking with either Esbern or Arngeir. To speak with Esbern, head to Sky Haven Temple. The old man is usually found beside Alduin’s Wall, near the observation point (as shown in the image above).

To speak with Arngeir, you will need to travel to High Hrothgar. The Greybeard can usually be found in the High Hrothgar Courtyard (as shown in the image above). In both cases, you will be directed to the College of Winterhold.

Open the world map to locate Winterhold, which is situated in the northeast part of Skyrim (as shown in the image above). If you have already visited Winterhold or the College of Winterhold, you can use fast travel. Otherwise, you will need to plan your journey. The easiest way to reach Winterhold is by carriage (which can be found at Whiterun Stable).

If you prefer to travel to Winterhold on your own, you can start at the Ustengrav temple or at Dawnstar, and then head east. In such a case, you should follow the water and, in the final part, walk around one of the larger mountain ranges to reach the city from the south. Remember that Winterhold is not your final destination, as you need to enter the College of Winterhold, which is located to the north of the city. The College can only be accessed via a single bridge (as shown in the image above).

If this is your first visit to the College of Winterhold, you will be stopped by Faralda (as shown in the image above), who will inform you that only authorized individuals can enter. This initiates the College quest First Lessons. If your character specializes in magic, you can take Faralda’s short test to prove your worth. Alternatively, with a developed Speech skill, you can try persuasion.

College of Winterhold quest unlocked: First Lessons

The easiest way to gain access is by informing Faralda that you’re the Dragonborn, although she will demand proof. Press TAB, open the Magic window, and activate any Shout. I recommend Unrelenting Force, and press Z (as shown in the image above), which will only slightly hurt her. If you have already gained access to the College of Winterhold, you won’t need to complete the above steps.

Head to the entrance of the College of Winterhold, whether on your own or with Feralda. You will reach your destination soon enough (as shown in the image above).

Disregard the characters in the area and proceed towards the north-east entrance to the Hall of the Elements. Once inside, turn right and open the smaller door that leads to the Arcanaeum. Ascend the stairs and head in a north-east direction, eventually arriving at a vast library managed by Urag gro-Shub (as shown in the aforementioned image). Engage in conversation with him and inquire about the Elder Scroll. He will enlighten you about the immense knowledge and power concealed within these scrolls, but will disregard you until you disclose that you are the Dragonborn.

Do not be concerned that the discussion has concluded, as Urag gro-Shub will retrieve some books pertaining to the Elder Scrolls. Wait for him to place the books (Effects of the Elder Scrolls and Ruminations on the Elder Scrolls) on the table (as depicted in the aforementioned image). Move towards the table and read each of the books. This will unlock the Daedric quest Discerning the Transmundane. As a sizable portion of this quest corresponds to accessing the Elder Scroll, its walk-through has been added to the Elder Knowledge segment. Therefore, you may proceed to read this section of the guide.

Daedric quest unlocked: Discerning the Transmundane


1. What is Winterhold?

Winterhold is a city located in the northern part of the province of Skyrim. It is known for its prestigious college, the College of Winterhold, which specializes in the study of magic. However, the city itself is in a state of decline due to the disastrous Great Collapse, which destroyed most of the city and caused it to lose its status as the capital of Skyrim.

2. How do I get to Winterhold?

You can reach Winterhold by following the main road that leads north from Whiterun. Alternatively, you can take a carriage from any major city in Skyrim to Windhelm and then travel north from there. Keep in mind that the area surrounding Winterhold is quite treacherous, with steep cliffs and icy terrain, so be prepared for a challenging journey.

3. What is Elder Knowledge?

Elder Knowledge is a quest in Skyrim that involves traveling to the Dwemer ruins of Blackreach in search of an Elder Scroll. The quest is initiated by speaking to the librarian at the College of Winterhold, who will provide you with the information you need to locate the scroll. Along the way, you will encounter numerous challenges, including hostile creatures and complex puzzles that must be solved in order to progress.

4. Can I explore Winterhold without doing the Elder Knowledge quest?

Yes, you can explore Winterhold and its surroundings without completing the Elder Knowledge quest. However, keep in mind that Winterhold is a relatively small city with limited amenities, so there may not be much to see or do outside of the College of Winterhold. Additionally, the city is in a state of decline and is largely abandoned, so there may be little in the way of civilization outside of the college grounds.

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