Look, I’m going to level with you here – I’ve never watched Game of Thrones. I’ve never even considered watching it.
I’ve never had to shove my hands over my ears at the fridge in the office because someone from payroll was shouting about what happened in last nights episode and I wouldn’t know Jon Snow if he lived in my attic.
There’s no real reason behind it. I just haven’t watched it.
This thought occurred to me last summer as I strolled along the road now known as the Dark Hedges, craning my neck to admire the ancient Beech trees above that envelope the avenue so beautifully.
After wanderlusting over photos online, I decided the see what all the fuss was about and made the journey up from Dublin, making sure to take in the Causeway Coastal Route (give it a bash if you haven’t already – guide here) along the way.
If you’re planning a trip to Ireland – please take a spin along this route. It’s a fantastic few hours jammed with breath-taking scenery.
Game of Thrones aside, having a ramble beneath these intertwining Beeches was a memorable experience. Slightly anti-climatic, but it’s not hard to see what all the fuss is about.
If you’re planning a visit, or if you’re curious about how this spellbinding tunnel of trees came about, then here’s everything you’ll need to know!
The Dark Hedges – Start With the Seed
Around 1775 a man named James Stuart constructed a stunning 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 (talk about brownie points).
Although the estate was an impressive spectacle in itself, the family decided that in order to make the drive up to the mansion more formidable, they needed to do something about the avenue leading up to Gracehill House.
They decided that 150 beech trees would be planted along the avenue. Over the years these grew to enclave the Bregagh Road, creating what we now know as the Dark Hedges.
A photographers dream.
The Grey Lady
I’ve no shame in admitting it but – haunted or not – you’d have as much luck getting me up that road after dark as you would an double-decker bus..
The fact that it’s supposedly haunted by the 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, vanishing from sight once she passes the last tree.
Some locals believe she’s the ghost of a maid from the nearby house who died in mysterious circumstances centuries ago.
There’s even been some recent sightings.
Game of Thrones Link
If you’re a fan of the insanely successful HBO series Game of Thrones, then you’ll probably recognise the Dark Hedges as The Kings Road, which is where this beautiful stretch of road gained its global fame.
The avenue features in Season 2, episode 1: On the King’ s Road, where Arya Stark has escaped from King’s Landing. She joins the Night’s Watch, in a cart, and travels north on the King’s Road.
If you’re a fan of the series, the below map created by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board should help you in finding the different Game of Thrones filiming locations to add to your travel itinerary.
You’ll find the Dark Hedges along Bregagh Rd, Ballymoney, Antrim. If you’re driving, there are coach/car parking and toilet facilities at the Hedges Hotel which is only around a two minute walk away.
I personally found the place by complete fluke but you can just as easily park at the beginning of the stretch. Just keep an eye out for people milling about around you.
If you can’t get here for yourself but still fancy experiencing it in some way then hit play below to see what it’s like in person.