Fodor's Expert Review Dark Hedges

Glens of Antrim Trail Fodor's Choice

A narrow single-track road lined by twisted beech trees whose numbers are steadily being diminished by gales and climate change, the Dark Hedges is a bit anticlimactic even for fanatical Game of Thrones--location tourists hoping for a classic selfie. The avenue of trees was originally planted in the early 1770s by the Stuart family, wealthy local landowners. Tours have been suspended since 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions; for further information visit  www.darkhedgesestate.com.  

Since its role as Kingsroad in Game of Thrones, the Dark Hedges has become the most visited of the Irish sights linked to the TV series, attracting tens of thousands of visitors annually. With its foreboding atmosphere, the road—more an unprepossessing single-track lane with a few twisted beech trees—has become a backdrop for Instagram antics. It has also been filmed for scenes in Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), which has added to... READ MORE

A narrow single-track road lined by twisted beech trees whose numbers are steadily being diminished by gales and climate change, the Dark Hedges is a bit anticlimactic even for fanatical Game of Thrones--location tourists hoping for a classic selfie. The avenue of trees was originally planted in the early 1770s by the Stuart family, wealthy local landowners. Tours have been suspended since 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions; for further information visit  www.darkhedgesestate.com.  

Since its role as Kingsroad in Game of Thrones, the Dark Hedges has become the most visited of the Irish sights linked to the TV series, attracting tens of thousands of visitors annually. With its foreboding atmosphere, the road—more an unprepossessing single-track lane with a few twisted beech trees—has become a backdrop for Instagram antics. It has also been filmed for scenes in Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), which has added to its movie-buff status. In the early 1770s when the Stuart family built their house called Gracehill, they lined the avenue with two rows of 150 beeches to impress visitors. The road now comes with a preservation order in a place that is so crowded with "location tourists" that it is closed to all but local traffic; few would have guessed some years ago that their narrow country lane would be so popular with film and TV directors that it would become a victim of overtourism. Parking on either the Bregagh Road (the Dark Hedges road itself), which is off Ballinlea Road, is prohibited. The surrounding fields are privately owned and not open to the public; visitors are asked to respect the trees and not to deface or mark the bark. The road is prone to flooding in the winter so the best time to visit is in spring when, if you catch the right day, the area is alive with birdsong and the melodic warbles of finches, tits, robins, and blackcaps.

Get there early in the morning or leave your visit until later in the day when it is quieter.

There is parking (£2 per car) at the Dark Hedges Experience visitor center, open 10 am--3 pm, Monday--Friday and 10 am--4 pm on the weekends; parking is free if you are a customer of the hotel. You can find information in the center on the history of the site, alongside merchandise from the Game of Thrones series such as T-shirts, hoodies, candles, and fridge magnets. Tours are held, but times vary and it is best to check with the center or with the Causeway Coast and Glens tourist office in the main street of the village of Armoy, a 10-minute drive. The center and car park is a 5- to 10-minute walk from the Dark Hedges road.

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Quick Facts

Bregagh Rd.
Ballymena, Co. Antrim  BT53 8PX, Northern Ireland

www.darkhedgesestate.com

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: Free

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