Getting up just before the sun rose, we left our hotel under the cover of night so that we could experience the dark hedges before the throngs of people showed up to turn a peaceful stretch of back road into a sh*t show.
We woke up at 4:30am and drove the forty-five minutes to the location as the sun began to rise. When we arrived at the infamous beech trees, there was not another living soul around. I guess the Game of Thrones filming location tours do not begin that early in the morning. Their clients must still be in their warm beds, clutching their wooden swords, dreaming of dragons.
Having the place to ourselves, we began exploring, taking as many shots as we could along the way. The natural tunnel created by the limbs of the beech trees was truly something spectacular. The silence of the moment was also something that stuck with me. It was so peaceful, so serene, I can only imagine how different our experience would have been if we arrived a few hours later.
The road is closed to traffic, although there are a few exceptions as we found out. A car came through towing a trailer with excavating equipment on it. Emergency and agricultural vehicles still have access to the road in certain circumstances. Obviously, this would fall under the agriculture or “it’s so early in the morning, nobody will know” category.
As we wandered along the road, we eventually realized that we weren’t alone. No, it wasn’t the local spirit, the Grey Lady, trying to give us a scare. It was simply a group of four tourist photographers, set up on the other end of the row of trees, shooting back towards where we came from. We apologized for being in their shot, but they were understanding and suggested we join them as they set up their shot. Once I had my tripod set, one of the ladies decided to walk down the road to allow the rest of us to compose a fun shot.
I would imagine that our experience at the dark hedges is not typical of the majority of visitors to the area. I will treasure the time we had alone there, thinking we were the only ones around, listening to the bird calls as the mist slowly began to burn away. We are fortunate to have these special moments on our travels together and cannot wait for our next big adventure.