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Move to close Dark Hedges road to vehicles

By Ann W Schmidt

Published 13/08/2016

The Dark Hedges could soon be closed to protect the trees
The Dark Hedges could soon be closed to protect the trees

The famous Dark Hedges, made famous by the television series Game Of Thrones, could be closed to vehicles.

It has been proposed by the Department of Infrastructure to close the road that runs through one of Northern Ireland's major tourist attractions.

"The road closure is more to do with the protection of the trees," said Ballymoney DUP councillor Alan McLean.

Mr McLean said that tourist buses were damaging the trees along the narrow road, particularly in recent months.

"If we don't do something, they're not going to be there in 20 years," he said. "I don't think we really have any other choice."

More than 150 beech trees were put in place in the 18th century, lining the entrance to Gracehill House. The Stuart family owned the Georgian mansion and planted the trees.

Today, the Dark Hedges are one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland, especially after the site was filmed as the King's Road in Game Of Thrones.

There are only about 90 trees remaining, but Mr McLean said that reducing the amount of traffic on the road will help sustain them.

"We all want to see the trees preserved and protected," he said. "Something has to be done."

Fellow DUP councillor Ian Stevenson said the Dark Hedges needed to be kept as an attraction for future generations. "It's better to preserve the trees and to allow public access to view the trees without harming them," he said. "It just needs a logical approach."

In January the road was temporarily closed because a storm ripped up two of the 200-year-old trees and seriously damaged a third. Because of their age, the trees, one of the stops on the Game Of Thrones tours are vulnerable to windy weather.

Belfast Telegraph

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