Regarding Aragorn's statement about "open travel" between Isen and the Brandywine, might I suggest that the operative word is "open"? Saruman could easily have learned of the Rangers' guarding of the Sarn Ford, either through his Palantir or simply from being apprised of the policy at the White Council. Indeed, the "not openly" phrase clearly indicates that any such travel was being conducted in secret. Given the (at least relative) emptiness of the lands in question, the only reason I can think of for anyone to travel that route taking precautions would be if they knew or expected that the route was watched. Even if the Rangers would not block the Sarn Ford from servants of Saruman, it seems very in keeping with both Saruman's strategy and character to keep the full extent of his dealings covert. Even though the Sarn Ford was the main ford in the river, is it possible or even likely that there were other possible crossing-points, that were not as well-known or used as the
Sarn Ford for any number of reasons?
Anyway, that is my two cents' worth, and hopefully it is worth at least that given that I do not have access to any of my Tolkien books right now, and so am going of off memory and what I am reading in the posts.
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