Tag Archives: The Dark Hedges

On This Day – The Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland

While the current travel restrictions are in place I have no new stories to post so what I thought that I would do is to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 10th June 2015 I was in Ballymoney in Northern Ireland visiting a filming location for the TV film Game of Thrones…

The Dark Hedges Northern Ireland

The dark hedges is an avenue of beech trees that were planted in the 1750s in the grounds of Gracehill House a Georgian mansion built by the Stuart family, descendants of a cousin of King James who had been granted the land but who had died in a shipwreck. They wanted to create a compelling landscape to impress visitors who approached the entrance to the mansion.  The Manor House is still there but a private residence and the Stuart legacy is this fascinating avenue of spooky interlinking tree boughs.

I say spooky because of course, such an ancient stretch of road is bound to have horror stories linked to it and visitors are warned to watch out for the ‘Grey Lady’. Local legend has it that she haunts the thin ribbon of road that winds beneath the ancient gnarled beech trees. She is said to glide silently along the roadside, and vanish as she reaches the last tree.  I couldn’t help thinking that I wished some of the tourists might disappear so that I might get a decent picture, but I suppose this stubborn couple do help provide a sense of perspective.

Dark Hedges 03

It was a fascinating place and maybe we were lucky to see it because Beech trees reach maturity at no more than two hundred years and those making up the Dark Hedges are well past that.  The Dark Hedges came under threat a few years ago when highway authorities proposed to fell many trees for safety reasons but the avenue was taken over by the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust – and is now the subject of a Heritage Lottery Fund project to protect the popular landmark but I suspect that there is only so long that they can remain on an environmental life support machine.

We might have stayed longer but to perfectly coincide with our visit a neighbouring farmer decided that this was the perfect agricultural moment to apply an evil silage cocktail to the land and the smell was truly awful and penetrated the interior of the car even through the closed windows.  I was concerned that we could get charged for this later under the car rental small print conditions of contract.

Game of Thrones Dark Hedges

Twenty Good Reasons to Visit Ireland

Northern Ireland Blue FlagCobh Waterfront IrelandConor Pass Dingle IrelandGiant's Causeway Northern IrelandHackets pub Schull West Cork

“Take every praiseworthy characteristic of the Irish pub – democratic; spontaneous; generous; sociable; wild; nostalgic; cossetting – and you have to amplify all those characteristics to explain the charm of this little bar, with its stone floor, with its artworks, with its punky staff, with its excellent drinks and its soulful cooking. Hackett’s has the warmth of a hearth – you are drawn to it as you are drawn to a crackling fire, all energy and comfort.” – John and Sally McKennas’ Irish Guides

The Dark Hedges Northern IrelandBlarney-Castle1Yellow Window KinsaleThe Burren County Clare Ireland

“The Burren is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him.”

Ireland Beach

“At the very edge of Europe, as far west as you can go in Ireland…. once described by National Geographic as the most beautiful place on earth… a place where the mountains roll into the ocean.”

Ireland Inch BeachMizzen Head Ireland 1Clonakilty Green Door

“Dubliner seems to me to have some meaning and I doubt whether the same can be said for such words as Londoner or Parisian” – James Joyce

Ireland Father Ted Tour Craggy Island Parochial House

‘Are you right there Father Ted?’

Ireland Mizzen HeadTitanic Museum Belfast

“Certainly there was no sailor who ever sailed salt water but who smiled – and still smiles – at the idea of the unsinkable ship” –  Charles Lightoller (Surviving Officer) in ‘Titanic and Other Ships’

Ballyvaughan Ireland

“Irish road signs are idiosyncratic in the extreme… a masterpiece of disinformation.  A sign is designed to lure you towards a place that you’ll never see mentioned again, unless it is marked in two separate directions on the same post.”  – Pete McCarthy

No Grave digging signTraditional Irish MusicIreland Guiness

Game Of Thrones – Film Locations

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I have never been a fan of ‘Game Of Thrones’, I didn’t get past episode 1, series 1 but more and more I get the feeling that I know a great deal about it because there are so many places that I have been that have by coincidence been used as filming locations for the programme.

I took all of these photographs completely oblivious to this fact and without a glimmer of interest in the series.  The picture above is the Alcazar de Sevilla  which for GOT became the Water Palaces of Dorne.

There are a lot of Roman bridges in Spain, they could have used those in Merida or Salamanca but they chose this one in Córdoba in Andalusia…

Roman Bridge at Cordoba

This is Þingvellir National Park one of several locations used for filming in the photogenic country of Iceland…

Iceland Landscape

A lot of the filming for the early series was done on location on the tiny Mediterranean country of Malta, this is the Azure Window on the island of Gozo,  it also appeared in films such as Clash of the Titans and The Count of Monte Cristo, as well as the television mini-series The Odyssey.

Azure Window Gozo Malta

Also on Malta they used the medieval walled city of Mdina

Mdina Malta

After exhausting the filming location opportunities on Malta the filming moved a few miles east to the Balkan country of Croatia.  This is the Krka National Park  or for GOT The Landscapes of The West

Dubrovnik featured prominently as The Red Keep and the site of the Battle of Blackwater…

And the Roman Palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian was a certainty to be used…

Next time I go travelling I will pay more attention to more possible GOT film location sitings.

Has anyone else come across these or other GOT locations?  Send me your pictures and I will see if I can make a post!

The Dark Hedges Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland, Game Of Thrones

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I confess to never having watched ‘Game of Thrones’  but I feel as though I know it because everywhere you go these days claims to have a filming location from the programme!

The Dark Hedges Northern IrelandGiant's Causeway Northern IrelandDunluce Castle Northern ireland

Northern Ireland, Castles and Hedges

Dunluce Castle Northern ireland

At seven o’clock in the morning the Giant’s Causeway was magnificent and as the sun struggled to break through the crazy paved cracked clouds we wandered  across the magnificently moody rocks without any interruption, until that is a quartet of men appeared who were obviously trying to walk off a big boozy night and even now had not fully regained complete volume control.

After Richard and I had returned to the  Smuggler’s Inn from the causeway we had an excellent breakfast (full English or full Irish I am not sure, I was going to ask but promptly forgot) and then we checked out and headed west.

Our intended destination was Dunluce castle but somewhere in Bushmills I missed a signpost and it was soon clear that we were going in the wrong direction and we had to turn back.  It was well worth it though because once on the right road we approached the castle along a twisting route that dropped dramatically down to the cliffs and showed it off to its best advantage.

Even though it was early it was already quite busy and the car park was full and there were a couple of tour buses out of Belfast disgorging their passengers.  On account of this it was rather overcrowded so with natural skinflint tendencies kicking in we declined the opportunity to take the internal tour of the ruins and satisfied ourselves instead with a wander around the exterior.

Actually I am not sure that the £5 entrance fee was really worth it because without doubt the best views were from the surrounding cliffs and that is what I always tell myself when I have been too mean to pay the admission fee.

The Dark Hedges Northern Ireland

Our next destination was a last minute adjustment to the planned itinerary and was made in response to something that we had seen in the local guidebooks – the dark hedges of Ballymoney, famous all of a sudden for being featured in the TV film ‘Game of Thrones’.

Game of Thrones Dark Hedges

From looking at the road map I was sure that this would be a place that was certain to be difficult to find but I was practically speechless when the normally not entirely reliable SatNav found it without any difficulty at all.

The dark hedges is an avenue of beech trees that were planted in the 1750s in the grounds of Gracehill House a Georgian mansion built by the Stuart family, descendants of a cousin of King James who had been granted the land but who had died in a shipwreck. They wanted to create a compelling landscape to impress visitors who approached the entrance to the mansion.  The Manor House is still there but a private residence and the Stuart legacy is this fascinating avenue of spooky interlinking tree boughs.

I say spooky because of course, such an ancient stretch of road is bound to have horror stories linked to it and visitors are warned to watch out for the ‘Grey Lady’. Local legend has it that she haunts the thin ribbon of road that winds beneath the ancient gnarled beech trees. She is said to glide silently along the roadside, and vanish as she reaches the last tree.  I couldn’t help thinking that I wished some of the tourists might disappear so that I might get a decent picture!

It was a fascinating place and maybe we were lucky to see it because Beech trees reach maturity at no more than two hundred years and those making up the Dark Hedges are well past that.  The Dark Hedges came under threat a few years ago when highway authorities proposed to fell many trees for safety reasons but the avenue was taken over by the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust – and is now the subject of a Heritage Lottery Fund project to protect the popular landmark but I suspect that there is only so long that they can remain on an environmental life support machine.

We might have stayed longer but to perfectly coincide with our visit a neighbouring farmer decided that this was the perfect agricultural moment to apply an evil silage cocktail to the land and the smell was truly awful and penetrated the interior of the car even through the closed windows.  I was concerned that we could get charged for this later under the car rental small print conditions of contract!

We left the Dark hedges and returned to the coast road that we picked up a mile or two beyond the Coleraine by-pass but in truth the coast road never really threatened to become anything like as dramatic or interesting as the Antrim coast the previous day and with nothing of any great interest to detain us we carried on directly to our next overnight stop in the city of Londonderry/Derry.

Dark Hedges 03

Weekly Photo Challenge: Vivid

The Dark Hedges Northern Ireland

The Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland

The Dark Hedges in County Antrim is said to be haunted by a spectre known locally as ‘The Grey Lady’ and this eerie location has been used as a setting in the ‘Game of Thrones’.

Game of Thrones Dark Hedges