New Year's Day has rolled around again, and they're all standing in the courtyard at Camelot. King Arthur, being a generous soul, has given Gawain a fine new stallion to ride. The stallion is all dressed up to the nines in trappings and bits and jangly things which are making it nervous. And Gawain has a fine new suit of armour, and a sword, and a shield painted with a picture of the Virgin Mary inside, and on the outside, in case that doesn't work, a pentacle.
All the maids gather around and go "Oh, Gawain, it's so tragic, its sorry" and mop their eyes and weep and wail and make the horse even more nervous. And somebody brings out Gawain's dog and ties it to the pommel. And Gawain is forced to mount and ride out, trying to behave like a hero. Certainly looking like a hero, but not feeling at all heroic.
And he doesn't know where he's going. He doesn't know where the Green Knight might be, so he rides out into the forest. It's not long before Gawain is lost. Then it seems there is no path to follow, so he's always pushing through branches which whipped back on his face. His horse stumbles and the dog gets lost and goes home.
As the day goes on (being New Year's Day, it's very short) and the light begins to fail, Gawain begins to give up any hope of ever finding any habitation. He realises he's getting a cold, and begins to sniffle, and he begins to worry about his shiny new armour rusting up from the inside.
And just when he is feeling totally and utterly miserable, the path that hardly is a path, just a deer run, widens out into a clearing, and Gawain faces a castle. Its not your usual castle for a forest: its not good defensive outer works. It sort of pretty and charming with turrets, and even that late in that cold January afternoon you can see fluttering at the top: little pinions, bright colours of silk. It looks just like something off a French wine bottle.
To anybody else, this would have made them a little cautious perhaps - made them think that this isn't your ordinary castle, but as I've said before, Gawain wasn't that bright. And all Gawain can think of, seeing the castle, is maybe they'll give him a bed for the night.