The Dark Hedges of Northern Ireland (and how to get there)

by Satu Vänskä-Westgarth on November 18, 2013 · 14 comments

Dark Hedges of Ireland I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

All I was hoping for was thick fog and bit of drizzle, but we got neither.

The navigator was of no use as we drove on the small country lanes in Northern Ireland’s County Antrim looking for the signs for the golf course. I was keeping an eye on the printed A4 we had got from the tourist information, photocopied many times over, and at the same time doing the math of how many kilometres we had progressed on this given stretch of a road.

“It must be there!” was my remark as in the distance I saw the tall tree tops stretching high above anything in the near surroundings. And still, we almost missed the turn to this small lane, visited by many, but still delightfully non-touristy in the way we were left feeling as we had discovered this special place.

I never thought I would be chasing after a piece of road. Very small road in fact, which I initially failed to even pinpoint on the map. And that I would then return again next morning. And again that evening. And again the following morning. And that I would plan to go back on my next visit.

The first time I saw the dark hedges was on Instagram, not surprisingly, as that’s where I am in the dark hours of the night when the little man is hungry and I try to keep my eyes open. While we cuddle on the bed, my mind is usually miles away, already checking out locations in New Zealand, traveling all over Ireland, exploring my now home country of Norway or my native Finland, and where ever else the pictures take me.

Giant’s Causeway was the reason we were up in Northern Ireland, and everything else was pretty much thanks to Elaine on Instagram, who pointed us to different attractions and scenic locations up north. Like the Dark Hedges.

Planted in the 1750’s, these ancient beech trees that were there to impress visitors to the Stuart family estate, have since interlocked forming a unique, almost eerie archway. The Dark Hedges are probably at their most ghostly and atmospheric on early mornings or late evenings in misty, foggy conditions, but we got neither. We did try to catch those special conditions every morning and every evening of our stay, but all we got was the kind of soft light without sun. I have to go back.

Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

How to get to the Dark Hedges

The best point of information is the Ballymoney tourist information, you can find their entry on Dark hedges here.

For those too busy to click, below is a short version of driving directions from the Ballymoney tourist information (Ballymoney – approx. 80 km / 50 miles north from Belfast. Don’t confuse with Ballymena….).

  • Drive to top of Townhead Street, at junction, turn right. After, turn left at the roundabout.
  • Drive straight on at the next roundabout, straight to end of road (petrol station on your left).
  • Turn right at the next roundabout onto A26, Frosses Road, southbound towards Ballymena /Belfast.
  • Take 3rd exit on left – B147 Kirk Road (Signposted Stranocum/Gracehill Golf Club/Ballintoy).
  • Keep on B147 (through village of Stranocum) for approx 11km / 7 to 8 Miles.
  • Bregagh Road is on right before reaching Gracehill Golf Club.

Where to stay at the Dark Hedges

As we were traveling in the non-peak season in October, we had no reservations made for accommodation. We got some suggestions from the Ballymoney tourist information and decided on the Knockavallen Lodge, a lovely self-catering accommodation close to the Hedges for easy access every morning and night. You can check them out on Trip Advisor or contact directly:

Email: knockavallenlodge@hotmail.co.uk
Tel. +44 28 2074 1230 / +44 7761 356 5566

At the time of writing this their own website isn’t working, but you can see if it’s up at www.knockavallenlodge.co.uk

Related posts:

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan (@VibrantIreland) November 18, 2013 at 7:00 AM

On my to-do list! Maybe I’ll see you there :-)
Have a look! Susan (@VibrantIreland) recently posted..Autumn Sunrises in IrelandMy Profile

Reply

Satu Vänskä-Westgarth November 18, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Even though I’ve been there, for some reason it has stayed on my to-do-list. I wouldn’t be surprised if we met there! :)
Have a look! Satu Vänskä-Westgarth recently posted..The Dark Hedges of Northern Ireland (and how to get there)My Profile

Reply

Elaine Farrell November 18, 2013 at 11:26 AM

Hi Satu, that’s a wonderful piece and much needed guidance on how to find the Dark Hedges. When I first went there, like you, we couldn’t find it at all. We resorted to asking a local who very kindly drove us there. We would never have found that day as it had started to get dark. By way of a little story, we met another photographer there and got chatting to him. I told him the first time I found out about the Dark Hedges was through a photo competition on a very popular BBC programme called’ Country File’ which televises prime time on Sundays; a photo of a tractor driving down that stretch of road, it was magical. Anyway it turned out to be the very guy who took the photo! What are the chances? I can’t remember his name just now, but I’ll see if I can find it for you. Thank you for the mention, again! Best for now, Elaine x

Reply

Satu Vänskä-Westgarth November 18, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Thanks for the lovely long comment Elaine!! And hey, I kind of could not leave you without a mention as the reason why I knew about the Dark Hedges was you! :) Although I think I had seen images from there before, but somehow I hadn’t registered that this place was in Ireland. And that’s an amazing coincidence, if you do remember his name please let me know, I’d love to check out that image of his!
Have a look! Satu Vänskä-Westgarth recently posted..The Dark Hedges of Northern Ireland (and how to get there)My Profile

Reply

Mrs. Chasing the Donkey November 18, 2013 at 10:04 PM

It’s npt often people say that they were hoping for fog and rain. Giggle. In any case these shots are once again amazing. I can barely read what you write as I am always so mesmerised by your photography.
Have a look! Mrs. Chasing the Donkey recently posted..Buzet truffle festivalMy Profile

Reply

Satu Vänskä-Westgarth November 19, 2013 at 11:06 AM

True, although I remember also wishing for rain after summer spent in San Diego, it was bluebird and sunny every single day, and clearly I’m more comfortable with “unpredictable” weather. :) And thanks for the lovely comment on photography, I have to say that this one was an easy one, the place is so amazing that you just have to push the button!
Have a look! Satu Vänskä-Westgarth recently posted..The Dark Hedges of Northern Ireland (and how to get there)My Profile

Reply

Joe @ Cosmic Smudge November 19, 2013 at 6:01 AM

Wow, those trees are just ridiculously awesome. It’s like something straight out of the Brothers Grimm. I’d love to spend some time there with my camera.
Have a look! Joe @ Cosmic Smudge recently posted..An autumn canopy at the National MallMy Profile

Reply

Satu Vänskä-Westgarth November 19, 2013 at 11:07 AM

And I’d love to go back with camera for some experiments!
Have a look! Satu Vänskä-Westgarth recently posted..The Dark Hedges of Northern Ireland (and how to get there)My Profile

Reply

Kea November 20, 2013 at 11:33 PM

Those trees are amazing! Someday I will go back and explore Ireland some more…
Have a look! Kea recently posted..Instagram Travel Thursday: Rescue Dogs in Phoenix, AZMy Profile

Reply

Satu Vänskä-Westgarth November 21, 2013 at 9:19 AM

It is an amazing spot! I got to Ireland couple of times every year and still I haven’t seen it all :)
Have a look! Satu Vänskä-Westgarth recently posted..3 Handy Mobile Gadgets to Make Outdoor and Adventure Photography Pop on InstagramMy Profile

Reply

Farrah November 21, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Oh wow!!!
I saw a photo just like your first photo yesterday in an article from Eye and Pen- it was about the top Game of Thrones destinations, and that is one of them! Those trees are awesome and I want one of those photos too :)
Have a look! Farrah recently posted..Instagram Travel Thursday: The Island of Gozo in MaltaMy Profile

Reply

Satu Vänskä-Westgarth November 21, 2013 at 11:46 AM

We actually saw the Game of Thrones film crew while in Northern Ireland, they were filming at other location up there. I have to admit though, I’ve never seen Game of Thrones… :)
Have a look! Satu Vänskä-Westgarth recently posted..3 Handy Mobile Gadgets to Make Outdoor and Adventure Photography Pop on InstagramMy Profile

Reply

Ciaran Blumenfeld December 11, 2013 at 8:32 AM

Oh wow. Now I want to go there. That’s so magical looking.
Have a look! Ciaran Blumenfeld recently posted..Holiday Instagram Staycation: Instagram Travel ThursdayMy Profile

Reply

Satu Vänskä-Westgarth December 11, 2013 at 10:52 PM

It is amazing spot, and there’s a LOT to do nearby also. I highly recommend!!

Reply

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge