Lou had been determined to see Hobbiton in the dry and so we had come north quickly to ensure our day there would be before the scheduled wet weather forecast. We got it right and arrived in sunshine, the last there was for several days.
Although Lord of the Rings was filmed nearly 20 years ago, with limited funding and perhaps a degree of short sightedness, the original Hobbiton was largely deconstructed with just a couple of hobbit hole doors being left on the farm land used as the set. When the family that owned the land was approached to allow the filming of The Hobbit, they agreed but with the proviso that this time, the set would be preserved and turned into a tourist attraction as a joint venture with the film company. With the success of both trilogies, it is no surprise that the site has become wildly popular and averages between 2000 – 3000 visitors a day. Open 364 days in the year, at $90 a head basic entry fee, the turnover is impressive. That’s before you add in the gift shop, restaurant and alike. Want your wedding there? No problem – pay the price and you too can have a private ceremony by the Party Tree! Yup – a real money spinner. But beautifully done.
The whole set up is impressive in its attention to detail. The buses that take you from the visitor reception to the site must have the best audio and video kit I have ever seen on a bus and there is no stinting on the money to keep the place top notch. With a team of dedicated gardeners, the whole place looks terrific. Given a free hand, each hobbit hole’s garden is individually decorated and the gardens are real. The gardeners were even having an internal competition on who could grow the best pumpkin!
I think that the photos say it all. It is a lovely visit to do. Admittedly, it is an immersion into a film set world and you are held by the hand as you walk around, kept to a tight schedule for your particular visit surrounded by other tourists.
But for anyone with an imagination, you really are in The Shire.
A great day out.