One of Northern Ireland’s most popular landmarks, The Dark Hedges, has been shortlisted in a prestigious UK-wide competition.
‘Landmark of the Year’ in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards schedule has seen the local attraction matched with four others including the birthplace of William Shakespeare at Stratford-upon-Avon.
The remarkable popularity of the Hedges is reflected in the large numbers of visitors to the Bregagh Road site during the past few years despite the unnecessary difficulties posed for tourists by the absence of directional signs.
Many believe there has been a ridiculously long delay in the process and that the matter should have been resolved long ago.
Notwithstanding that, the Hedges now rank as a must-see attraction brought about because it is one of the locations for the filming of the Game of Thrones series.
The fact that it now stands alongside many of the major tourist landmarks in the United Kingdom reflects a huge rise in the popularity the Hedges now enjoys.
The shortlisting has prompted the Mayor, Alderman Bill Kennedy, to call for support in voting for the Hedges.
Speaking to the Times, Alderman Kennedy said: “This is a real fillip for tourism in Northern Ireland and North Antrim in particular. I would encourage people to vote. The link is http://www.countryfile.com/article/landmark-year-201415.”
The trees are 300-year old serpentine beech and form an arc cover.
The Mayor continued: “The Game of Thrones, HBO’s hugely popular and award-winning epic fantasy services, has added to their popularity.
“Visitors can recreate their own Game of Thrones adventure in the fading light at what has become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland.”
Photographers will welcome the news that fencing has been removed from part of the route making pictures more attractive. Particularly evocative at dusk or dawn, the road is reputedly haunted by a spectral “Grey Lady, who glides silently along the roadside, disappearing as she passes the last tree.
More Causeway Coast & Glens Tourism Partnership have created Game of Thrones itineraries. Check these out on www.causewaycoastandglens.com”