I visited the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland once, and I’d never visit again.
And that’s just me being completely honest (I’ll explain why below). However, I know plenty of people (usually Game of Thrones fans) that visited and loved it!
It’s here that you’ll find an avenue lined with 150 beech trees that has delighted photographers, painters and directors for many a year.
In the guide below, you’ll find everything from the Dark Hedges Game of Thrones link to where to park nearby.
Some quick-need-to-knows before you visit the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland
Although a visit to the Dark Hedges is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
You’ll find the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland, just off the Causeway Coastal Route, on Bregagh Road in Ballymoney. They’re 15 minutes from the Old Bushmills Distillery and 20 minutes from the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge.
If you’re driving, there are coach/car parking and toilet facilities at the Hedges Hotel (see it on a map) which is around a two-minute walk away.
3. Don’t drive on the road
There’s nothing blocking the road at the Hedges, however, it’s advised that you avoid driving down it. The road attracts large crowds, so park at the hotel and take the very short walk over to it.
4. Instagram vs reality
Many of the photos you see online are taken with long-zoom camera lenses to make the avenue look more cinematic than it is. When we visited here last, the trees were bare, the road was packed with people and it looked nothing like the photos you see online.
How the Dark Hedges location came about
In 1775, a man named James Stuart constructed an elaborate Georgian estate around two and a half miles north of the village of Stranocum.
He decided to christen the mansion Gracehill House, after his wife Grace Lynd. Although the estate was an impressive spectacle in itself, the family felt that it was missing something.
They decided that, in order to make the drive up to the mansion more formidable, they needed to do something about the avenue that led to the estate
They decided that 150 beech trees would be planted along the avenue. Over the years these trees grew to enclave the Bregagh Road, creating what is now one of the most popular places to visit in Antrimdark hedges.
The Grey Lady of the Dark Hedges
I’ve no shame in admitting that you’d have as much luck getting me up that road after dark as you would a double-decker bus.
Ghost or no ghost! The fact that the road is supposedly haunted by a Grey Lady makes it even less likely.
According to local legend, after nightfall the Grey Lady glides along the Bregagh Road, drifting between the ancient beech trees and vanishing from sight once she passes the last tree on the avenue.
Some locals believe she’s the ghost of a maid from the nearby house who died under mysterious circumstances many centuries ago.
The Dark Hedges Game of Thrones Link
Yes, there’s a big aul Dark Hedges Game of Thrones link! If you’re a fan of the insanely successful HBO series, then you’ll probably recognise the Dark Hedges as ‘The Kings Road’.
The avenue features in Season 2, Episode 1: ‘On the King’ s Road’. The Dark Hedges were featured during a scene where Arya Stark escaped from King’s Landing.
She joined the Night’s Watch in a cart and travelled north on the King’s Road while disguised as a boy.
Now, as you can see from the photo above, CGI was used to change the appearance of the road, so keep that in mind to avoid disappointment.
Places to visit near the Dark Hedges Estate
One of the beauties of this place is that it’s a short spin away from some of the best things to do in Northern Ireland.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from the Dark Hedges Estate (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. The Old Bushmills Distillery (15-minute drive)
The Old Bushmills Distillery is a short spin from the Hedges and the tour here is well worth doing. It takes you through the history of what is the oldest licensed whiskey distillery on earth. Here’s a guide to the tour.
2. Dunluce Castle (20-minute drive)
The ruins of Dunluce Castle are on the coast not far from the Dark Hedges Estate. You can take a tour here or you can admire them from afar (info on viewing points in this guide). Other nearby castles include Dunseverick Castle and Kinbane Castle (both 20-minutes away).
3. More Antrim Coast attractions (10 minutes+)
So, there’s plenty more Antrim Coast attractions a handy spin away. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Whiterocks Beach (30-minute drive)
- Giant’s Causeway (20-minute drive)
- Carrick-a-rede rope bridge (20-minute drive)
- Whitepark Bay (15-minute drive)
- Ballintoy Harbour (20-minute drive)
FAQs about the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what was the Dark Hedges Game of Thrones scene to who planted the trees.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Are the Dark Hedges worth visiting?
In my opinion, no (info above as to why), but if you’re a Game of Thrones fan then they might have more appeal to you.
Where do you get parking for the Dark Hedges?
If you’re driving, you can park at a free visitor car park at the Hedges Hotel. It’s a handy 2 to 4-minute walk from the hotel to the hedges.
What was the Dark Hedges Game of Thrones scene?
The Dark Hedges Game of Thrones scene was in Season 2, Episode 1: On the King’ s Road in the scene where Arya Stark has escaped from King’s Landing.