Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Northern Ireland's famous Dark Hedges out of bounds as dead trees axed

The Bregagh Road, where the Dark Hedges grow too close
The Bregagh Road, where the Dark Hedges grow too close

The road where Northern Ireland's famous Dark Hedges grow is to close for 10 days so that a number of dead or diseased trees can be felled.

A tree surgeon has been appointed to carry out much needed work to preserve the archway of intertwining ancient beech trees and ensure the safety of the public, according to the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust.

Meanwhile, brown tourist signs are to be erected to direct people to the increasingly popular north Antrim attraction in Stranocum, which has been drawing the crowds ever since doubling as the King's Road in HBO's Game Of Thrones series.

Until now, the tens of thousands of visitors that come to the Dark Hedges each year have struggled to locate the road and local residents have been inundated with callers seeking directions.

Last night, a trust spokeswoman told the Belfast Telegraph: "The Bregagh Road, home of the famous Dark Hedges, will be closed during early September for some tree maintenance including the felling of some of the trees which are regrettably beyond preservation.

"Following two extensive tree surveys and a thorough procurement process, we have appointed a suitably qualified tree surgeon to carry out the recommended maintenance works on the trees to ensure the preservation of the ancient beech trees and the safety of the public. These works, which are part of a wider project to improve the visitor experience, have been funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

"We have also been liaising with NI Tourist Board, Ballymoney Borough Council, Moyle District Council, The Hedges Hotel and DRD Road Service to install brown tourism signs to facilitate the number of visitors to the area and we have been informed that these signs will be installed late September/early October.

Beech trees reach maturity at 150 to 200 years and those making up the Dark Hedges are past maturity at 200 to 250-years-old, the spokeswoman said.

Under the Tree Preservation Order, the Trust must survey the trees regularly and carry out recommended works.

"About three of them are dead or diseased so they have to be felled," the spokeswoman added.

"The only other works will be the removal of dead branches that overhang the public road. This will be to safeguard the public."

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