Which means the first journey, when the hero is just a boy, has to have another reason why it's difficult than just the way.
Especially since his mother would be prudent enough to not send him, whatever the risk, until winter and the spring floods were over.
An out bridge? but that would a serious problem for some time, unless it was in settled lands, where it could not create the kind of danger I want.
So, an attack by wolves? Or some other monster?
On reflection, the burning question there is not what kind of monster it is -- a whole bunch of them could be suitable for forcing them from the road and into further danger -- but whether the villainess of the piece actively sent them, or if they just happened to attack, the wild being full of monsters that would just attack. (Magic involved not being cast, but a general effect of the wild.)