The Dark Hedges are a Northern Irish tourist attraction, two lines of stately beech trees planted by the Stuart family in 1775 to line the entrance to their Gracehill House mansion. But they may be better known to Game of Thrones as the Kingsroad, as seen when Arya and Gendry are fleeing King’s Landing at the end of the season 2 premiere, “The North Remembers.”
Unfortunately, the long-standing sight it on the decline. Just this past weekend, 60-mile-per-hour winds ripped one of the trees from the ground, and to hear expert Paddy Cregg of the Woodland Trust, the others’ days are numbered. “They are coming to the end of their life, normally beech trees survive around 250 years, they are probably now 240 years old,” Cregg told the BBC. “Trees will normally have three phases in their lives. The first third they grow, the second third they grace the landscape whilst the final third they go into decline. These beech trees are now in the third phase.”
These trees have lived in a hostile environment with vehicles and coaches impacting on their root system. We are hoping that with the restrictions placed on access by traffic that we have bought a little more time for this natural phenomena.
Originally, there were around 150 trees along the Dark Hedges. Now there are about half that number. Estimates regarding how long the trees have left vary, but if you want to see them, sooner is better than later.
Happily, Game of Thrones fans will soon have more reason than ever to visit Northern Ireland. In addition to the Dark Hedges, they’ll be able to walk through a massive King’s Landing set the crew built for season 8 and has decided to leave standing as a tourist attraction.
And there’s always the possibility that new beech trees could be planted to replace the old, but it would take a century before they look how they’re supposed to. Until then, there’s always Game of Thrones.
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