Better known as the Kingsroad on the popular HBO series Game of Thrones, the Dark Hedges, a tunnel formed of gnarled old beech trees, are shiveringly picturesque. The owner of nearby Gracehill House planted more than 150 of them in the late 18th century to create a pretty avenue, though today only 90 or so beeches remain. The Dark Hedges have their own ghost, an unidentified “gray lady” who vanishes as she passes the last tree on the avenue.
Driving from Belfast to the Dark Hedges en route to the Causeway Coast is fairly straightforward: from the A44, once you reach “the Drones” near Armoy, turn left and follow signs for the Gracehill Golf Club. The lane is always accessible because it’s actually a public road (Bregagh Road), so you may find yourself driving down it before you even realize you’re there.
For more on the history of the Dark Hedges and Gracehill House before you go, visit the Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust website. Gracehill’s nearest neighbor is The Hedges Hotel (139b Ballinlea Rd., Stranocum, Ballymoney, tel. 028/2075-2222), which is an option for lunch or tea. You might just want to make a quick pit stop en route to the coast, though, since the place has a bit of a strange vibe.
Hardcore fans of the TV show will definitely want to reserve seats on a daylong Game of Thrones Tour (21 Botanic Ave., Suite 180, Belfast, 028/9568-0023), which are usually led by former extras. You have a choice of three itineraries, two Belfast-based (Iron Islands and Stormlands, departing at 8am daily, or Winterfell, departing 9am daily; both tours £40 pp) and one Dublin-based (Winterfell locations, departing 8am daily, €55). Cosplay is encouraged!
Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Ireland.