Serpentine Trees (The Dark Hedges)
There goes another pothole, or speed bump? Or maybe we just moved off the road a little bit to allow a car to pass, especially considering how massive our coach is. Either way it was a welcomed change from the cows and sheep grazing on acres of lime green grass, and the occasional biker. But after a single sharp turn on the narrow road hid a gem, the Dark Hedges.
Once you exit the bus, there was nothing but a clear road, fields grass on both ends of the road, and a beautiful overhead tunnel created by the intertwined branches. These rows of beech trees along both sides of the road create a mysterious, yet relaxing atmosphere for both pedestrians and drivers. With a gentle breeze the sound of leaves from the beech tree mimics the sound of a soft ocean wave. The trunks of these mature beech trees sometimes create a low creaking sound, which tingles the senses and envelops the area in a mysterious aura. This mysterious, ominous atmosphere was what caught the attention of the directors of Game of Thrones. Although this road was briefly shown in the award winning HBO series Game of Thrones, it has attracted tens of thousands of fans around the world to this location.
The estate is currently privately owned, however these beech trees were planted by the James Stuart and Grace Lynd in the eighteenth century as a way to greet visitors coming to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House. The estate later was passed to their grandson, William Stuart and has remained in the Stuart family for many years.
Over the centuries, the beech trees have well past their mature age, and are dying or are diseased. Ironically, due to the age of the trees, it adds a creaking sound which enhances the mysterious atmosphere. Preservationist are trying their best to protect and preserve these ancient trees, and they have even started planting new beech trees. However, every year they get closer to falling from old age, disease, storms, and even fellow tourists carving their names on the trees.
Giant’s Causeway tour spends a minor 15-20 minutes at the Dark Hedges, but it only took 5 minutes to have the most impactful and memorable impression on this tour. Everyone deserves to get a chance to visit the Dark Hedges before they are all gone. Otherwise, visitors will have to wait another 200 years to see a new generation of beech trees. Help save and preserve these beautiful trees.