Off the town of Ballymoney, along along Bregagh Road, is a beautiful avenue of beech trees that has become famous in the world thanks to TV Series Game of Thrones. You can see it in the first episode of Season 2, when Aria Stark escapes from King’s Landing disguised as a boy. What in the TV series goes by the name of King’s Road is known in the real world as The Dark Hedges.
These trees were planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century, intended to form a compelling landscape feature to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House. Two centuries later, the trees remain a magnificent sight and have become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland.
This morning Jeff and I decided to drive up north to go see it. The weather was chilly, yet beautiful. It took us more than the foreseen 1 hour and 10 minutes to get there because of the road works along the A44, but we still were lucky to arrive before the first tourist coach. The view is enchanting, even if the place is very busy, even in a working day. We parked the car at the beginning of the tree lines and walked all the way to the end to admire the peculiar effect of the branches. The colours are incredible and the view changes dramatically according to the direction you’re looking from. The surroundings are also delightful.
Just before people started to jump off the bus, we got into our car and left, passing underneath the trees. This was an interesting stop, even if not our final destination for the day: if you want to visit the Dark Hedges, make sure you plan something else to visit in the area. As far as it’s a beautiful spot, it might not be worth alone an almost two hours trip from Belfast. Indeed, it’s a short drive from Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and the Giant’s Causeway.
We headed to Ballycastle Forest, instead. You’d better insert this place on your wish list… If you want to know why, make sure you read our next blog post!