The Dark Hedges
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 home, Gracehill House. Two centuries later, the trees remain a magnificent sight and have become known as the Dark Hedges.
The Dark Hedges is one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland and a popular attraction for tourists from across the world. It has been painted by hundreds of visiting artists and is a favourite location for wedding photographs.
Of the Dark Hedges, world-renowned photographer Jim Zuckerman writes,
"One of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever seen is this country lane in Northern Ireland. It's called Dark Hedges, and I include it in my photo tour to Ireland. All of the people in my groups get amazing pictures here. The serpentine trees form a tunnel that is spectacular at any time of the day, but I find it particularly intriguing and mysterious just before dark".
The road is reputedly haunted by a spectral ‘Grey Lady’ who appears at dusk among the trees. She silently glides along the roadside and disappears as she passes the last beech tree.
These trees are now protected by a Tree Preservation Order issued by the Northern Ireland Planning Service. The Dark Hedges Preservation Trust was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £43,000 in 2011 to ensure the uniqueness of these trees is preserved and perpetuated for many decades to come.