Northern Ireland’s famous Dark Hedges road is to be traffic free from 30 October onwards, following a government order aimed at preserving the natural attraction.
Having been featured as the location for The King’s Road in the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones, the location has steadily grown in popularity over the past few years, becoming one of the most photographed spots in Northern Ireland. According to the new act put in place by the Department of infrastructure, motorists could be faced with fines of up to £1000 if found driving on the road from November on. The order includes buses and coaches, who will no longer be able to use the designated stretch of the Bregagh Road in County Antrim. However, certain exemptions will be made for emergency and agricultural vehicles operating under special circumstances.
The beech trees were planted in the eighteenth century by the Stuart family, and were designed as an impressive welcome to visitors making their way to their Georgian property called Gracehill House. Two centuries later and the trees have grown to form a twisted, beautiful archway that lurks over the long road. The past few years have seen some of the trees being damaged due to storms and harsh weather, while conservationists have become increasingly concerned with traffic on the road affecting the roots. Last spring saw images being shared on social media that depicted traffic jams.
Free parking will still be available however at the nearby Hedges Estate Hotel on the Ballinlea Road, enabling visitors to leave their cars and make their way to the iconic spot on foot.