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The Dark Hedges: Parking, History + Why I Avoid

The Dark Hedges: Parking, History + Why I Avoid

I visited the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland once, and I’ll never visit again.

And that’s just me being completely honest. However, I know plenty of people (usually Game of Thrones fans) that have visited and loved it!

It’s here that you’ll find an avenue lined with 150 beech trees that has delighted photographers, painters and film 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

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.

1. Location

You’ll find the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland, just off the Causeway Coastal Route, on Bregagh Road in Ballymoney. If you’re not driving, there are tours from Belfast and from Dublin (affiliate links).

2. Parking

There is ample Dark Hedges parking at the Hedges Hotel (here on Google Maps). If you look at the image above, you’ll see that there’s a trail from the car park to the road across from the Dark Hedges – use caution crossing it, please!


3. Don’t drive on the road

There’s nothing blocking the road at the Hedges, however, traffic is banned from driving along it, regardless of the time of day. This is due to a conservation order in place to protect the trees.

4. Instagram vs reality

Many of the photos of the Dark Hedges that you see online are taken with long-zoom camera lenses that make the avenue look more cinematic than it is. When I visited here last, the trees were bare, the road was packed with people and it looked nothing like the photos you see online.

The Dark Hedges Game of Thrones Link

game of thrones dark hedges

Yes, there’s a big aul Dark Hedges Game of Thrones link! If you’re a fan of the very 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.

The Dark Hedges are one of several GoT filming locations in Ireland, along with Ballintoy Harbour, Castle Ward, Dunluce Castle, the Cushendun Caves and Murlough Bay.


The story of the Dark Hedges

The Dark Hedges

Photos via Shutterstock

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.

The planting

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 Antrim.


The Grey Lady of the Dark Hedges

There are many legends in this part of Ireland. The story goes that the Bregagh Road is haunted by a Grey Lady.

It’s said that, 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 passed away under mysterious circumstances many centuries ago.


Places to visit nearby

Causeway Coastal Route Drive

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:


Frequently asked questions

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?

They are worth visiting if you are a Game of Thrones fan, yes. However, many people visit and leave disappointed due to the stark comparison between how they are shown online versus how they look in real life.

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.

Can you drive along the Dark Hedges?

No. Driving along the Bregagh Road is no longer possible due to a traffic ban that is in place. The road is for pedestrian use only.

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.


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David Maylish

Wednesday 15th of February 2023

Thanks, Keith. My wife are planning on covering many of the stops you mention this March/April. We'll be traveling off-season, so I don't expect to see too many crowds. We are wondering about the weather at the end of March and beginning of April - hope it's not too cold or too rainy! Good information to share with my wife. David


Tuesday 3rd of September 2019

Thought that myself keith, went see them to see what all the hype was about, defo not like in the pictures,gray lady!, blue lady! , blue nun!, grew up listening to all the tails about up around there and ballycastle, now i did see a banshee or 2 ? lol, wasn’t a laughing matter at the time if you know what it means to see one, maybe just coincidence but seeing to and why is the strange thing,tell you some other time about it?. P. S. ive never watched GOT either?

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