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Gumbo's Pic of the Day, Feb. 27, 2014: The Dark Hedges, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Dark Hedges 1


Years ago, when I was in elementary school, I remember one of my teachers showing my class a photo of some really interesting and eerie looking trees.  Being quite young at the time, I thought the picture was really cool, but unfortunately I didn't remember where my teacher had taken that picture.  Last year my brother and I traveled through Northern Ireland.  One morning as we were about to leave our bed and breakfast, we looked at a things to do map for County Antrim.  There on the map was a picture just like the one I had seen decades earlier in my elementary school was that of the Dark Hedges.


The Dark Hedges is a unique stretch of the Bregagh Road near Armoy, County Antrim, Northern Ireland (it is only about 20 minutes from the Giant's Causeway). Over the past 300 years or so, the Beech trees guarding either side of the lane have reached up and across to each other, becoming heavily intertwined to create a natural arched tunnel where shadow and light plays through entwined branches.


This beautiful avenue of beech trees was planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century. It was intended as a compelling landscape feature to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House, which is now a golf club. Two centuries later, the trees remain a magnificent sight and have become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland.


Signage to the Dark Hedges is quite poor, but local residents are more than happy to offer up directions and strike up a conversation. 


Images (3)
  • Couple strolling through the Dark Hedges, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
  • The Dark Hedges, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
  • The Dark Hedges end at entrance to Gracehill Golf Club.

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