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The Dark Hedges: History, Game of Thrones Link + Why I Wouldn’t Visit Again

The Dark Hedges: History, Game of Thrones Link + Why I Wouldn’t Visit Again

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

dark hedges ireland

Photo by Emanuele Bresciani (Shutterstock)

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. They’re 15 minutes from the Old Bushmills Distillery and 20 minutes from the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge.

2. Parking

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

the dark hedges northern ireland

Photos via Shutterstock

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

game of thrones dark hedges

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.

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 Ba.

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)

bushmills distillery tour

Photo via Bushmills

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)

dunluce castle antrim

Photos via Shutterstock

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+)

giants causeway tour

Photo by Gert Olsson (Shutterstock)

So, there’s plenty more Antrim Coast attractions a handy spin away. Here are a few of our favourites:

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.

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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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