Strange how a simple row of trees in the middle of nowhere can become an internationally renowned tourist attraction. The sinisterly-called ‘Dark Hedges’ in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, have become a magnet for photographers and Game of Thrones fans.
I’m sure the Stuart family who planted the trees in the 18th century never dreamed photographers would be lining up for a shot of an empty road overreached by sinewy trees.
They planted this avenue of beech trees simply as a decorative feature to impress visitors approaching their Georgian mansion Gracehill House.
Two centuries later and the fuss over a bunch of trees has been stoked by filming of fantasy series Game of Thrones here in Northern Ireland. The Dark Hedges appear in the premiere of season two. Arya Stark flees from her enemies down this spooky avenue, dressed as a boy and riding in a cart.
Wandering up Bregagh Road a lorry driver (yes this is just a normal road) stopped to say hello. Leaning out of his window he asked “Have you seen the old man?”
“I thought it was the Grey Lady we had to look out for,” I replied, referring to the solitary ghost said to haunt the area.
He grinned and wanted to know where we are from and whether we were enjoying our time in Northern Ireland. Travelling here it often felt like everyone is very keen for you to go away happy with your experience. There is no doubt tourism is important to Northern Ireland.
If you are looking for the Dark Hedges plug Bregagh Road, Ballymoney T53 8TP into your GPS and look out for the brown signs and the Gracehill Golf Club. Enjoy!
By Natasha von Geldern